Collins Wins Sanofi/Institut Pasteur Award

By Mark Dwortzan

Professor James J. Collins (BME, MSE, SE)
Professor James J. Collins (BME, MSE, SE)

Professor James J. Collins (BME, MSE, SE) was named one of four winners of the 2012 Sanofi – Institut Pasteur Awards, which recognize scientists for life sciences research demonstrating progress in addressing tropical and neglected diseases, innovative vaccines, new approaches to drug resistance, or therapeutic approaches to aging and regenerative medicine. All four winners will receive their awards at a ceremony in Paris on November 13.

One of more than 100 scientists nominated for the prestigious $120,000 euro (about $145,000) award, Collins was recognized for “seminal discoveries of unsuspected mechanisms of action of antibiotics and the way they generate resistant strains of bacteria.” According to the seven-judge panel, which included two Nobel Prize winners, “his work has important implications for avoiding resistance and paves the way to eradicate difficult-to-treat persistent bacteria.”

In the past three years alone, Collins has advanced a new method that combines selected sugars with a class of antibiotics to obliterate bacteria that cause chronic infections; discovered a new mechanism for antibiotic resistance and identified a new pathway by which superbugs become resistant to multiple antibiotics. 

“This award is a marvelous recognition of the work our lab has been doing in antibiotic research, and we are very grateful to the Sanofi - Institut Pasteur Award jury for this fantastic honor,” said Collins. “We plan to use the associated funds to pursue some new high-risk projects related to antibiotics and the emergence of resistance.”

The other three award winners were Harvard Medical School Professor John Mekalanos for research on the causes of cholera that’s advanced new vaccines and treatment options for the disease; Mount Sinai Hospital Professor Peter Palese for fundamental work on influenza genetics that’s facilitated the development of commercial flu vaccines; and Rockefeller University Professor Jeffrey Ravetch for discovering the mechanisms by which antibodies perform diverse functions, research that has led to the improvement and generation of molecular therapeutics.

Sanofi, a global diversified healthcare leader and the Institut Pasteur, an internationally renowned biomedical research center, launched the Sanofi - Institut Pasteur Awards in February to encourage scientific excellence in the service of health.

See video of Sanofi-Insitut Pasteur Awards interview with Professor Collins.

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