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The greatest revolution since Leonardo

NIH Director Francis Collins with United States Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, after Collins' swearing-in ceremony (Credit: National Institutes of Health)Medical science is undergoing "the greatest revolution since Leonardo," according to one of the world's leading scientists. Dr. Francis Collins heads the National Institutes of Health and formerly guided the international Human Genome Project. He has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Science. USA Today is carrying a fascinating interview with him regarding the historic transformation we are witnessing today.

"Personalized medicine" is the common name for this advance. This approach uses genetic information to predict disease and treat it more effectively. Dr. Collins' latest book, The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine, is an authoritative guide to this breakthrough. I read it recently and was astounded by what I found.

Researchers have identified genes which play a role in thousands of medical conditions. Our genetics can already tell doctors if we are susceptible to certain cancers, enabling us to take preventive steps. They can help doctors prescribe chemotherapies or other medicines which are especially effective for us. Gene therapy can make medical treatments far more effective. And there is much more to come. It may be possible in the next five years to analyze the entire genetic makeup of a person for $1,000

The Language of Life documents the wonder of our bodies. Did you know that there are six billion base pairs of DNA in 400 trillion cells in your body? Here's your devotional thought for the morning: There are one quadrillion (1,000 trillion) foreign microbial cells living on your body. Your brain contains 50 billion to 100 billion neurons, which pass signals to each other through about 100 trillion connections. This fact fascinates me: The DNA sequence of any two individuals is 99.6 percent identical. We are truly sisters and brothers, children of one Father.

David was right to pray: "You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well" (Psalm 139:13-14). The more we learn about creation, the more we learn about our Creator.

If he could design each of the 400 trillion cells in your body, is he capable of designing your day? If he could engineer 100 trillion connections in your brain, is he able to engineer and direct your life? If "there is special providence in the fall of a sparrow" (Shakespeare), is there providence in the fact that you opened today's essay? If your life were more surrendered to your King than it is, what would you submit now?

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