Francis Collins, the director of the US National Institutes of Health, has been awarded the 2020 Templeton Prize. The £1.1 million (US$1.3 million) prize, created by John Templeton in 1972, lauds research and other endeavors that highlight what "science brings to the deepest questions of the universe and humankind's purpose and place within it."
In a statement, Heather Templeton Dill says Collins has "advocated for the integration of faith and reason, demonstrating how religious faith can inform and inspire a rigorous quest for knowledge of the natural world through the sciences."
Collins, a geneticist and physician, has led the NIH since 2009 and, prior to that, served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, where he led the Human Genome Project. While in medical school, Collins embraced Christianity and in 2006 wrote a book, The Language of God, that recounts his spiritual journey and reconciles science and religion. He has since written additional books and, with his wife Diane Baker, founded the BioLogos Foundation which also promotes the compatibility of science and religion.
The Templeton Foundation notes Collins was selected late last year, but that the announcement was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Previous prize winners include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Francisco Ayala, Freeman Dyson, and Mother Teresa.