The ability to adapt to environmental stressors is essential for survival. Our ancestors regularly faced many forms of stress throughout evolutionary history, with one of the most common being fluctuations in the quantity and quality of food. Emerging evidence indicates that the nutritional status of the host has a major impact not only on physiology and metabolism, but also on the immune system. For example, during his Postdoctoral Fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Yasmine Belkaid at the NIH, Dr. Collins demonstrated that caloric restriction enhanced the function of the immune system, promoting host protection against pathogens and tumors. This could indicate that caloric restriction provides the evolutionary conserved state that supports optimal host fitness. As such, investigating the immune system through the lens of host nutrition could offer the opportunity to understand the underlying mechanisms involved in the development of optimal immune responses. The overarching goal of the Collins laboratory is to establish a mechanistic understanding of how nutrition impacts the immune system directly, as well as indirectly via the microbiota. The ultimate goals of this line of research are to identify processes that optimize immune responses for application to the design of novel cancer immunotherapies and vaccination strategies, and to promote the development of rational diet-based therapeutic options for the prevention and treatment of disease.
Education and Training
- Ph.D. The University of Melbourne, Australia 2015
- Hons. The University of Melbourne, Australia 2010
- B.Sc. The University of Melbourne, Australia 2009