James J. Collins to present 2015 Victor M. Tyler Distinguished Lectureship in Engineering

The Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science is pleased to announce that James J. Collins has been named the 2015 Victor M. Tyler Distinguished Lecturer in Engineering. Collins will address the Yale community on April 22, 2015 on the topic of "Life Redesigned: The Emergence of Synthetic Biology."

Collins is a pioneering researcher in the emerging fields of synthetic biology and systems biology, with a particular focus on antibiotic action, bacterial defense mechanisms, and the emergence of antibiotic resistance. Working at the intersection of engineering, mathematics, and biology, his patented technologies have been licensed by more than 25 biotech, pharmaceutical, and medical devices companies, and he has helped launch such companies as Sample6 Technologies, Synlogic, and EnBiotix.

Collins's notable scientific innovations range from his recent discovery that all classes of bactericidal antibiotics induce a common cell death pathway to his earlier creation of one of the first synthetic genetic circuits—a "toggle switch" of gene expression promotors and inhibitors, with applications for inexpensive drugs, rapid diagnostic tests, and synthetic probiotics that treat infections and complex diseases. Most recently, Collins has focused on the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the invention of supplements that could enhance the efficacy of existing antibiotics.

Much of Collins's research has centered on how biological signals can be degraded or counterintuitively enhanced by noise, producing heightened sensory function and motor control. For example, one of his inventions used subtle random vibrations in footpads to enhance the nervous system's stimuli sensitivity, a foundation discovery for treating diabetic neuropathy, restoring brain function following stroke, and improving elderly balance.

Collins is the Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering & Science and Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT, a Core Founding Faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, and an Institute Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. His numerous awards and honors include a Rhodes Scholarship, MacArthur Genius Fellowship, NIH Director's Pioneer Award, and elections to the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Inventors.

Made possible through a generous gift from the Honorable Guido and Anne Calabresi and named in honor of Victor M. Tyler—a Yale Engineering graduate ('51), founder of Concord Computing Corporation, and a leader in the development of electronic commerce technologies. The lectureship was established in 2010 and aims to bring to campus leaders whose contributions and insights not only reflect the broad mission of engineering, but also shed light on some of the most important technological problems of our times.