James J. Collins is the Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering & Science in the Institute for Medical Engineering & Science (IMES) and Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was appointed as an advisor to Abdul Latif Jameel Health in 2021.
His research group works in synthetic biology and systems biology, with a particular focus on using network biology approaches to study antibiotic action, bacterial defense mechanisms, and the emergence of resistance.
Professor Collins’ patented technologies have been licensed by over 25 biotech, pharma and medical devices companies, and he has helped to launch a number of companies, including Sample6 Technologies, Synlogic, Sherlock Biosciences, Senti Biosciences and Cellarity.
He has received numerous awards and honors, including a Rhodes Scholarship, a MacArthur “Genius” Award, the Dickson Prize in Medicine, a Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award, as well as several teaching awards. Professor Collins is an elected member of all three US national academies – the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine.
Professor Collins is developing innovative ways to reprogram organisms, including bacteria, to perform targeted tasks, such as detecting and treating infections. This may lead to cheaper drugs, rapid diagnostic tests, and more effective treatments for antibiotic-resistant infections and a range of complex diseases. This work is part of the new field of synthetic biology, which Professor Collins founded by combining science and engineering to construct biological circuits that can program organisms, much like we program computers now.