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Collins Wins Exceptional Achievement Award

Biomedical Engineer Named Recipient of Drexel University's $100,000 Anthony J. Drexel Exceptional Achievement Award

PHILADELPHIA – Biomedical engineering pioneer James J. Collins, known for his work in improving the brain functions of stroke victims, has been named the recipient of Drexel University’s inaugural Anthony J. Drexel Exceptional Achievement Award, Drexel University Interim President C.R. "Chuck" Pennoni announced today.

Collins, University Professor, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Center for BioDynamics in the College of Engineering at Boston University, will accept the $100,000 award at the Translational Medicine Alliance Forum on May 14, 2009, in Philadelphia. The Anthony J. Achievement Award was created to recognize collaborative, multidisciplinary research focused on real-world solutions that change society. Collins’ research led to the development of a new class of medical devices that addressed complications resulting from diabetic neuropathy, restored brain function following stroke and improved balance in the elderly.

“We have established the Anthony J. Drexel Exceptional Achievement Award to build new connections to the national research community and celebrate the transformative work going on in American labs. Drexel is committed to translational or "use-inspired" research,” said Pennoni. Collins’ research combines elements of physics, mathematics and bioengineering to study and improve the function of physiological and biological systems. Besides a distinguished record as a researcher, Collins has also demonstrated an entrepreneurial drive and desire to apply his research to improve medical science. “Collins exemplifies the translational researcher, developing new fields of study in biomedicine geared not only toward intellectual pursuits but also toward developing solutions,” said Pennoni.

A recipient of the National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award, Collins has been named to the Technology Review TR100 and the Scientific American 50. He is an elected fellow of the American Physical Society, the Institute of Physics and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. Collins is also the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship and MacArthur "Genius" Award and was recently selected as an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a first for a Boston University faculty member.

Collins co-founded Afferent Corporation to commercialize his patented neurostimulation technology. His work in systems biology on the reverse-engineering of gene networks to identify drug targets, biological mediators and disease biomarkers led him to cofound Cellicon Biotechnologies. And he recently invented and reduced to practice a network biology platform for identifying targets for combination therapies involving RNA interference molecules. This platform has been licensed by NetEffect Pharmaceuticals, a company he co-founded with Flagship Ventures. Collins is known as an exemplary faculty member, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses continuously and serving as research supervisor and mentor to students and postdoctoral fellows.

He has received numerous teaching awards including the 2000 Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching, which is the highest teaching honor awarded by Boston University and was named Professor of the Year in the College of Engineering in 1999 and 2008.

The Anthony J. Drexel Exceptional Achievement Award is presented to recognize a member of a U.S. institution whose work transforms both research and the society it serves. The innovative translational research of this individual advances the frontiers of the field, with outcomes that address unmet problems in health care or otherwise touch the lives of people. This inaugural year, the award is devoted to biomedical engineering or the life sciences. The $100,000 prize was donated to Drexel by an anonymous alumnus. The award is named for Drexel University founder Anthony J. Drexel. This inaugural year, the award was devoted to biomedical engineering or the life sciences. The selection was based on criteria that included impact of an individual’s research and discovery on new medical treatments to address societal needs, effectiveness in translating basic research and development of new technology to clinical trials and/or treatment approaches.

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