Collins Named One of Two Inaugural Warren Professors


James J. Collins
James J. Collins

President Robert A. Brown has appointed Professor James J. Collins (BME) as one of two inaugural William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professors at Boston University. George Annas, the Edward R. Utley Professor of Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights, and chair of the School of Public Health department of health law, bioethics and human rights, was also appointed. 

 “The exceptional contributions of George Annas and Jim Collins certainly fit the high standards envisioned when we created the Warren Professorships,” said Brown. 

 The recipients of the professorships, named after the University’s first president, were announced Saturday in an e-mail Brown sent to faculty. The professorships were established last year on the recommendation of an ad hoc committee of the Faculty Council as a way of recognizing the University’s most distinguished faculty. In a letter to the faculty last year, Brown said the award is intended to be the highest honor bestowed upon senior faculty members who will continue to be involved in research, scholarship, and teaching, as well as the University’s civic life. After a call for nominations last fall, a faculty advisory committee reviewed several candidates and delivered recommendations to Brown, who made the final selections. 

 Collins is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, a position he holds concurrently with his BU appointment. He also is cofounder and codirector of the University’s Center for BioDynamics. A Rhodes scholar, he holds a Ph.D. in medical engineering from Oxford and has been a member of the College of Engineering biomedical engineering faculty since 1990. He has been recognized as the ENG Biomedical Engineering Teacher of the Year and the Professor of the Year. In 2000, he won the Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching. He is a 2003 recipient of a MacArthur Fellows Program award. 

 “I am delighted and very appreciative to be selected as one of the first Warren Professors,” said Collins. “I would like to thank Bob Brown and the selection committee for this marvelous honor. My academic career has benefited tremendously from Boston University’s support and celebration of high-risk interdisciplinary work. I look forward to continuing such work and teaching BU students for many years to come.” 

 Last week, Collins also was named as the recipient of Drexel University’s inaugural Anthony J. Drexel Exceptional Achievement Award, which comes with a $100,000 prize and recognizes “a member of a U.S. institution whose work transforms both research and the society it serves.” 

 Collins has pioneered the application of nonlinear dynamics to biological systems and the developing field of synthetic biology. His research has led to the development of novel bioengineering devices and techniques, while making innovative contributions at multiple biological scales. He has 130 archival publications and has 10 issued patents and 15 pending patents. He has been named a fellow of the Institute of Physics, a fellow of the American Physical Society, and a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He won the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, the Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award, and the Scientific American 50 Award, given to 50 outstanding leaders in research, industry, and politics. 

 This article is excerpted from a piece written by Art Jahnke that appeared on BU Today.