Founders and Advisors

Jim Collins, Ph.D.
Co-Founder
James J. Collins is the Henri Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering & Science and Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT. He is also 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 research group works in synthetic biology and systems biology, with a particular focus 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 over 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, as well as several teaching awards. Professor Collins 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 & Sciences, as well as a charter fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
Tim Lu, M.D., Ph.D.
Co-Founder
Timothy Lu, M.D., Ph.D. is an Associate Professor leading the Synthetic Biology Group in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT. He is a core member of the MIT Synthetic Biology Center. Tim’s research at MIT focuses on engineering integrated memory and computational circuits in living cells using analog and digital principles, applying synthetic biology to tackle important medical and industrial problems, and building living biomaterials that integrate biotic and abiotic functionalities. He is a recipient of the NIH New Innovator Award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and the Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging Award, among others.
Michael Gilman, Ph.D.
Michael Gilman is a scientist, general manager, biotech executive, and entrepreneur, currently serving as a Venture Partner at Atlas Venture and Chief Executive Officer of Padlock Therapeutics and Raze Therapeutics. His previous position was Senior Vice President, Early-Stage Pipeline, at Biogen Idec, with responsibility for managing the company’s development programs through clinical proof-of-concept. He joined Biogen Idec in March 2012 following its acquisition of Stromedix, a venture-backed company focused on fibrosis and organ failure, where Dr. Gilman was Founder and Chief Executive Officer. Prior to founding Stromedix in 2006, Dr. Gilman served as Executive Vice President, Research at Biogen Idec, with responsibility for the company’s discovery research activities in Cambridge and San Diego. From 1994 to 1999, Dr. Gilman was at ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, where he was Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer. From 1986 to 1994, Dr. Gilman was on the scientific staff of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, where his research focused on mechanisms of signal transduction and gene regulation. Dr. Gilman was a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from University of California, Berkeley, and a S.B. in Life Sciences from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Cammie Lesser, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Cammie Lesser, M.D., Ph.D., is a board certified infectious disease specialist in Boston, Massachusetts. She is currently licensed to practice medicine in Massachusetts. She is an Associate Professor of Medicine (Microbiology and Molecular Genetics) at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Lesser lab is interested in understanding how bacterial pathogens manipulate host cell processes to promote their own survival and replication during the course of an infection. In particular, our efforts focusing on determining how bacterial factors injected via type 3 protein delivery systems into the host cell cytosol act to disarm host innate immune responses, including the induction of pro-inflammatory cytokine production, pyroptosis and autophagy. Our studies focus on studying virulence factors from Gram-negative enteric pathogens that cause gastrointestinal diseases including Shigella, Salmonella, Yersinia and enteropathogenic E. coli. We have developed multiple innovative technologies to address these questions including an innovative bottom-up approach to study single, potentially functionally redundant effectors as well as yeast functional genomic and proteomic approaches to identify conserved eukaryotic signaling pathways targeted by the virulence proteins.

More recently, we have begun to exploit findings garnered from our mechanistic based studies to develop bacterial strains engineered to deliver proteins of therapeutic value rather than virulence proteins into host cells. Current efforts with this system are aimed at developing a viral-free protein delivery system for cellular reprogramming, i.e., the conversion of fibroblasts into induced pluripotent stem cells. In addition, we have begun to develop commensal bacteria that act suppress inflammation by blocking the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines with the goal of utilizing these bacteria to develop a new targeted treatment for inflammatory bowel disease. We are interested in expanding this system to generate therapeutics for a variety of additional human diseases.
Wendy Garrett, M.D., Ph.D.
Wendy Garrett, M.D., a medical oncologist who specializes in Gastrointestinal Cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. She is also an Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases with the Harvard School of Public Health (Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases/ Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases).

The Garrett Lab is interested in defining the dynamic interactions between the mucosal immune system and gut microbiota. Our experimental questions are grounded in understanding how interactions between intestinal microbial communities and the immune system contribute to the pathophysiology of both inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. Our lab uses a variety of genomic, cellular and molecular techniques as well as germ-free, gnotobiotic and conventional mouse models to investigate gut microbial communities, mucosal immune cell subsets, and their contribution to the development of inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.
Scott Snapper, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Snapper grew up Catskill, New York and did his undergraduate work at Tufts University in Boston where he graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology in 1983. In 1990 Scott received his M.D., Ph.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and pursued residency in Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), a clinical fellowship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and advanced immunology postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School (HMS) in the laboratory of Frederick Alt, Dr. Snapper joined the faculty at MGH and HMS in 1997.

Dr. Snapper holds the Wolpow Family Chair and is the Director of the Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease as well as Director of Basic and Translational Research. In addition, Dr. Snapper has become the Director of IBD Research within the Gastroenterology Division at BWH where he maintains a joint clinical appointment. Dr. Snapper is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS)

Dr. Snapper’s clinical interests are focused on immunological disorders of the GI tract including inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) and gastrointestinal manifestations of human immunodeficiencies. Dr. Snapper’s research focuses on signaling pathways that control the innate and adaptive immune system (and interactions with the microbiome) in the setting of health and disease.
Christopher Voigt, Ph.D.
Christopher Voigt, PhD is a Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT, Co-Director of the Synthetic Biology Center, and Co-Founder of the MIT-Broad Foundry. His lab focuses on pushing genetic engineering to the scale and complexity of designing genomes from the bottom-up. They have developed genetically-encoded sensors and circuits and have used these to control multiple pathways and cellular functions. This has been applied to the optimization of chemical and materials production and to the discovery of novel pharmaceuticals. He holds joint appointments at the Broad Institute, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST), and University of California – San Francisco (UCSF). He received his BSE in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan (1998) and PhD in Biophysics and Biochemistry from Caltech (2002). He serves on the science advisory boards of DSM, Bolt Threads, Pivot Bio, SynLogic, Amyris Biotechnologies, Cambrian Genomics, and Zymergen. He has been honored with a National Security Science & Engineering Faculty Fellowship (NSSEFF), Sloan Fellow, Pew Fellow, Packard Fellow, NSF Career Award, Vaughan Lecturer, and MIT TR35. He has prepared reports and briefings on synthetic biology for the National Academies of Science, National Science Foundation, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Congress. He founded the journal ACS Synthetic Biology and serves as the Editor-in-Chief and co-founded the SEED conference series.