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Thirtieth Anniversary of Cystic Fibrosis Gene Discovery

Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins

In 1989, the gene that causes cystic fibrosis (CF), was discovered by a collaborative research effort involving my own lab at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and colleagues at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the discovery, which has yielded life-sustaining targeted therapies for many kids born with this rare disease. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation asked me recently to talk about “the long, tough road” traveled to find the gene hunt and the ongoing research commitment to help people with CF. Courtesy of Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.


  • David J. Law, PhD, MS says:

    Gratefully recall my UM colleagues who conducted this research; also grateful to be a small part of another collaborative effort to clone BRCA1. Go Blue. Go NIH. Go Science.

  • Earl Freeamn says:

    Great way to celebrate anniversary! And he sings great also!

  • balkonraul says:

    Great thanks for the information and for sharing with us. Hope you continue to work and share.

  • Lacak Resi says:

    Big thank you for this information, hoping that there is a cure for rare diseases. Regards

  • Heather Cariou says:

    Just saw this! Dr. Collins, my parents are Douglas and Donna Summerhayes, founders of Cystic Fibrosis Canada. A good deal of the funds CF Canada raised in its first 29 years went toward underwriting your work with Dr. Lap-chee Tsui at Sick Kid’s in Toronto, where the first Canadian CF Clinic had been established. My parents are still living – Dad is 91 and Mom is 88 – and they still speak of you and Dr. Tsui with awe and affection. I’m a writer who earned a late-life Master’s degree in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University. My CF brother Jeff received a bilateral lung transplant in September of 2018 at the age of 56! We all think the world of you and that you and Dr. Tsui should have been nominated for a Nobel for your groundbreaking work. Sending my highest regards and deepest respect, and also a great deal of gratitude for your appearances on MSNBC and elsewhere through the past year of pandemic. Bless you for the humanity you embody, and the science you practice that moves medicine forward.

    • Moderator says:

      Many thanks for your kind words, Heather. I am glad to hear your brother is doing well – and now with the new generation of triple drug therapy, the future looks really bright. We need to keep going, though, until the story of CF is history. All the best, Francis Collins

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