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Using Reverse Engineering to Go Forward

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Date and time
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

James J. Collins discusses his research, which focuses on developing techniques and devices to characterize, improve and mimic biological function. Dr. Collins' specific research interests include: systems biology (reverse engineering naturally occurring gene regulatory networks); synthetic biology (modeling, designing and constructing synthetic gene networks); and developing noise-based sensory prosthetics. **James J. Collins** is professor of Biomedical Engineering and co-director of the Center for BioDynamics at Boston University. He has received a number of 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, Boston University's Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and being selected for Technology Review's inaugural TR 100, a group of 100 young innovators who will shape the future of technology. Dr. Collins is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and the Institute of Physics. In 2003, he was selected as a McArthur Fellow.

Professor of biomedical engineering, University Professor, and co-director of the Center for BioDynamics, Professor Collins is part of the team of scientists who created the world's first genetic toggle switch. This mechanism is designed to control gene activity and has potential applications for treating a variety of diseases. For his extraordinary agility of mind and for his exceptional teaching ability, Professor Collins received the Metcalf Cup and Prize, Boston University's most prestigious teaching award. Professor Collins has been named a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator. Designation as HHMI investigators gives this elite group creative license to pursue novel, high risk avenues of research, with a total of more than $600 million awarded during their first 5-year term. Once established, investigators typically receive about $1 million per year.