CF Foundation's Own American Idol: Director of the National Institutes of Health Gives Keynote Address and Sings at CF Foundation’s International CF Conference

October 16, 2009

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health, welcomed an international group of cystic fibrosis scientists and caregivers by giving the keynote addresses at the CF Foundation’s 23rd annual North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference (NACFC). Collins, a distinguished geneticist who led the international effort to map the human genome, co-discovered the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis in 1989.

This year commemorates the 20th anniversary since the team of Francis Collins, Lap Chee Tsui and Jack Riordan discovered the CF gene. To the wrapt audience, Collins spoke about the progress that’s been made since the gene discovery and how it gave us a critical head start in the development of new CF drugs.

Following his keynote address, Collins moved gracefully from a scientific to a musical message, wowing the audience with original music and song. Playing an electric guitar with a signature double helix emblazoned on the neck, Collins sang a song he wrote about CF, "Dare to Dream."

The NIH director, who has shared the stage with Joe Perry of Aerosmith and knows how to stay cool on camera with the likes of Steven Colbert, easily roused the more than 3,400 scientists, medical professionals and guests in the audience to join him in song.

The chorus of voices rocked the convention center, making clear the dedication of all attending NACFC to dare to dream of the day when, as Collins sang, "'til the story of CF is history."