James J. Collins
James J. Collins, Ph.D.
Founding Core Faculty Member
Platform Lead, Anticipatory Medical
and Cellular Devices
Henri Termeer Professor of
Medical Engineering & Science
Professor, Department of Biological Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Jim is developing innovative ways to reprogram organisms, particularly bacteria, to perform desired tasks, such as attacking tumors and guiding development of stem cells. These programmed bacteria could lead to cheaper drugs, greener fuels, and more effective treatments for antibiotic-resistant infections and diseases. The work is part of the new field of synthetic biology, which Jim founded by combining science and engineering to construct biological circuits that can program organisms, much like we program computers now. He is also a pioneer in systems biology, stochastic resonance, biological dynamics, and neurostimulation, with the goal of improving the function of physiological and biological systems. His research has led to a new class of medical devices, such as vibrating insoles that provide sensory enhancement stimulation to the feet of the user. His team at the Wyss is developing these insoles for a variety of purposes, such as improving balance among elderly users.
At Boston University, Jim is a William F. Warren Distinguished Professor, a University Professor, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Professor of Medicine, and Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Center of Synthetic Biology. In 2008, he became the first Boston University faculty member to become a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. His many awards include a MacArthur "Genius Award," a National Institutes of Health Director's Pioneer Award, as well as numerous teaching awards. He has been named to the Technology Review list of top 100 young innovators and the Scientific American list of top 50 outstanding leaders in science and technology. Jim is also an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, and the National Academy of Inventors. He chairs the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of Sample6 Technologies and EnBiotix, and serves on the SAB of Joule Unlimited, Selventa, Seres Healthcare, LifeWave Ltd, Ensof, and Synereca Pharmaceuticals.