Physician and geneticist Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health since 2009, has been awarded one of the world’s leading religion prizes for demonstrating how religious faith can motivate scientific research.

Collins, who led the acclaimed Human Genome Project to completion in 2003, was announced Wednesday as winner of the 2020 Templeton Prize. The honor from the John Templeton Foundation and two affiliated philanthropies comes with an award of 1.1 million British pounds ( $1.345 million).

The foundation said Collins, 70, was selected as the winner late last year, but the announcement was delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

He will formally receive the Templeton Prize in a virtual ceremony later this year.

In recent months, Collins and his NIH colleagues have shifted major parts of their work to accelerating treatments and a vaccine for the Coronavirus.

Throughout the pandemic, the foundation said, Collins has urged faith communities to trust science while debunking various internet conspiracies.

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