Jim Collins is faculty lead of life sciences at the Abdul Latif Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health, the epicentre of artificial intelligence in healthcare at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he is also Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering and Science at the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) and the Department of Biological Engineering.
Jim and his research group at MIT research synthetic biology and systems biology, with a particular focus on using network biology approaches to study antibiotic action, bacterial defence mechanisms and the emergence of resistance.
Much of Jim’s work is applied—his patented technologies have been licensed by over 25 biotech, pharmaceutical and medical devices companies—and he has helped to launched several companies, including Sample6 Technologies, Synlogic and EnBiotix.
In 2020, Jim and co-principal investigator at MIT Jameel Clinic, Regina Barzilay, published research identifying a powerful new antibiotic compound, Halicin, using a machine-learning algorithm. The drug killed many of the world’s most problematic disease-causing bacteria in laboratory tests, including some strains that are resistant to all known antibiotics. It also cleared infections in two different mouse models. The same year, Jim and Regina's team received seven-year funding from the Audacious Project, a collaborative funding initiative with a goal of supporting solutions to global challenges, for their antibiotics-AI project work which used deep learning to identify new classes of antibiotics to combat antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
In 2023, Jim and colleagues at the Wyss Institute published research presenting the development of a novel engineered RNA sense-and-respond circuit named 'Detection and amplification of ribonucleic acid (RNA) triggers via adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (ADAR)' (DART VADAR) which seeks out a specific molecular marker of disease for highly specialised treatment, offering a potential means to deliver more targeted therapies to patients.
Jim has received numerous awards and honours, including a Rhodes Scholarship, a MacArthur "genius grant" fellowship, an NIH Director's Pioneer Award, a Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award, a 2023 Clarivate Citation Laureate as well as several teaching awards.
Jim took a bachelor’s degree in physics from the College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts, and a PhD in medical engineering from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. Jim is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a charter fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. He is also a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute and member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.