2008 University Lecture
Biology by Design
Presented by James J. Collins
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at 7:00 pm
Tsai Performance Center
685 Commonwealth Avenue
James J. Collins is University Professor, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Co-Director of the Center for BioDynamics at Boston University, as well as an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). He is one of the founders of the emerging field of synthetic biology, and a pioneering researcher in systems biology, stochastic resonance, biological dynamics and neurostimulation.
Dr. Collins received a bachelor’s degree in Physics (summa cum laude; class valedictorian) from the College of the Holy Cross in 1987 and a doctorate in Medical Engineering from the University of Oxford in 1990. From 1987 to 1990, he was a Rhodes Scholar. Since 1990, he has been a faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University.
Dr. Collins has received a number of scientific awards and honors, including the American Society of Biomechanics Young Scientist Award, the Thomas Stephen Group Prize from the Engineering in Medicine Group of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Early Career Achievement Award, and being selected for Technology Review’s inaugural TR100 – 100 young innovators who will shape the future of technology. Dr. Collins is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Institute of Physics and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
In 2003, he received a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award”, becoming the first bioengineer to receive this honor. In 2005, he was selected for the Scientific American 50 – the top 50 outstanding leaders in science and technology. In 2007, Dr. Collins received the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award and the Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award in Aging. This past year, Dr. Collins was selected as an HHMI Investigator, becoming the first BU faculty to receive this
Dr. Collins is also a gifted and committed teacher. He has won numerous teaching awards at Boston University, including the Biomedical Engineering Teacher of the Year Award, the College of Engineering Professor of the Year Award, and the Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching, which is the highest teaching honor awarded by Boston University.
Dr. Collins has invented a number of novel devices and techniques, including vibrating insoles for enhancing balance, bistable genetic toggle switches for biotechnology and bioenergy applications, dynamical control techniques for eliminating cardiac arrhythmias, and systems biology techniques for identifying drug targets and disease mediators. Dr. Collins has co-founded two companies based on his technologies: Afferent Corporation, a medical device company, and Cellicon Biotechnologies, a drug discovery company. He also co-chairs the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of Gene Network Sciences, and serves on the SAB of Codon Devices, Epitome Biosystems and Joule Biotechnologies. Dr. Collins is also a science advisor for Excel Medical Ventures, PureTech Ventures, and Xconomy.
Dr. Collins is married to Mary McNaughton Collins, who is a primary care physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. They live in Newton, MA, with their kids, Katie (age 9) and Danny (age 7), both of whom are avid basketball players.