James J. Collins, the Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering and Science in the MIT Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), has been awarded the 2020 Max Delbrück Prize in Biological Physics from the American Physical Society (APS), “for pioneering contributions at the interface of physics and biology, in particular the establishment of the field of synthetic biology and applications of statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics in biology and medicine.”

Collins is also a Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT and is affiliated with the Broad Institute and the Wyss Institute. His research focuses on synthetic biology and systems biology, with a particular emphasis on using network biology approaches to study antibiotic action, bacterial defense mechanisms, and the emergence of resistance. Professor Collins’ patented technologies have been licensed by more than 25 biotech, pharma and medical devices companies, and he has helped to launched a number of companies, including Sample6 Technologies, Synlogic and EnBiotix. He has received numerous awards and honors, including a Rhodes Scholarship, a MacArthur “Genius” Award, an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, a Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award, as well as several teaching awards. Professor Collins is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and a charter fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

“Max Delbruck was a world-class physicist whose work on bacteriophage helped to launch the molecular biology revolution,” Collins says. “To be associated with his name for our work in synthetic biology at the interface of biology and physics is a great honor.”

The $10,000 Max Delbrück Prize, presented annually by the APS, recognizes and encourages outstanding achievement in biological physics research. Previous recipients include William Bialek, a theoretical physicist and professor in physics at Princeton University and Alan Perelson, a fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).