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Food Science and Human Nutrition Department

Food Science and Human Nutrition Department

Collins Laboratory


Dr. Collins has broad training and expertise in physiology, molecular biology, genetics, and nutrition, and he has been involved in biomedical research for over 25 years. His formal post-baccalaureate educational training includes master’s studies in molecular biology, doctoral studies in molecular physiology at Vanderbilt University and post-doctoral work in transport physiology at the University of Arizona. Dr. Collins’ research previously focused on molecular aspects of intestinal sodium and phosphate absorption, but more recently, over the past 15 years or so, his research efforts have shifted to the investigation of iron metabolism and how this is influenced by copper, with a particular focus on mechanisms of intestinal transport of these essential nutrients. This is an important area of research, as body iron homeostasis, unlike most other nutrients, is controlled principally at the level of intestinal absorption since no active excretory systems exist in humans or other mammals. Studies over the past 10+ years have identified copper-dependent aspects of intestinal iron transport. Ongoing studies relate to iron supplementation and how this negatively impacts copper homeostasis (e.g. in pregnancy), and to development of therapeutic approaches to modulate intestinal iron absorption in various disease states (e.g., hereditary hemochromatosis and β-thalassemia). Model systems include wild-type and genetically engineered (knockout) laboratory mice and rats, as well as surgical human intestinal tissues. Commonly used experimental techniques include molecular biology methods such as qRT-PCR and western blotting, radiotracer iron and copper absorption studies (by oral, intragastric gavage), quantification of iron in blood and tissues (using various methods including ICP-MS), a variety of physiological techniques, and Ussing chamber analysis to determine mechanistic (and kinetic) aspects of nutrient absorption. The Collins laboratory is staffed predominantly by Nutritional Sciences doctoral students, several of whom have graduated over the past few years. Funding for his work has been competitively awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIDDK, ODS) for the past 15+ years.


Collins Team 2023


Collins Team 2020

Pictured (from the left), Rufus Theophilus, Sean Zhu, Pearl Ebea, Yang Yu, Dr. Collins, Jennifer Lee

Collins Team 2019

“Pictured (from the left), Shireen Flores (former PhD student, postdoc), Yang Yu (3rd year PhD student), Jennifer Lee (2ndyear PhD student), Dr. Collins, Xiaoyu Wang (former PhD student, postdoc), Regina Woloshun (4th year PhD student).”

Collins Team 2017

From left to right- Jung-Heun Ha- standing (postdoctoral scholar), Sukru Gulec- sitting (former Nutritional Sciences doctoral student, now an Assistant Professor at the Ismir Institute of Technology, Ismir, Turkey), Martin Alla- standing (University of Florida undergraduate student), Shireen Flores- sitting (Nutritional Sciences doctoral candidate), Caglar Doguer- standing (former Nutritional Sciences doctoral student, now an Assistant Professor at Namik Kemal University, Tekirdag, Turkey), Abraham Wilson- sitting (University of Florida undergraduate student), Yi Han- standing (former Nutritional Sciences Master’s student), Dr. Collins- sitting, Xiaoyu Wang- sitting far right (Nutritional Sciences doctoral candidate).


  • Current Grant Support (role)
    • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) (PI)
    • Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) (PI)
    • National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) (Co-I)
    • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (Co-I)
  • Professional Affiliations
    • International Society for Trace Element Research in Humans (ISTERH) [2007]
    • East Coast Iron Club (2005; Chair, 2010-2013)
    • International BioIron Society (2004)
    • American Physiological Society (1999)
    • American Gastroenterological Association (1998) 
  • Advisory Group Service

    Chair, Scientific Merit Review Board for Gastroenterology (VA-GAST), Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration; Dec. 2016-June 2018. 

    Standing Member, Scientific Merit Review Board for Gastroenterology (VA-GAST), Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration; May 2013-June 2016.

     Standing Member, Clinical and Integrative Molecular Gastroenterology study section, National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases (NIDDK); July 2012-June 2018. 

  • Editorial Board Member
    • American Journal of Physiology: Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology; June 2015-present
    • Journal of Biological Chemistry; July 2014-present
    • PLOS One; 2013-2017
    • Journal of Nutrition; 2010-2020
  • Editorships

    J. F. Collins, EditorMolecular, Genetic, and Nutritional Aspects of Major and Trace Minerals (Elsevier Inc.) Contains 44 chapters on the essential minerals. ISBN: 978-0-12-802168-2. (2017).

  • Faculty Links
  • Publications 2016-Present

    1. Regina R. Woloshun, Yang Yu, Xiaodong Xu, Jennifer K. Lee, Sean Zhu, Jacob S. Shine, Pearl Ebea, Bruce R. Stevens, Sadasivan Vidyasagar, and Collins, J.F. (2022)  Four AAs increase DMT1 abundance in duodenal brush-border membrane vesicles and enhance iron absorption in iron-deprived mice.
    2. Helman, S., Zhou, J., Fuqua, B., Lu, Y., Collins, J.F., Chen, H., Vulpe, C., Anderson, G.J., Frazer, D.M. (2022) The Biology of Mammalian Multi-copper Ferroxidases. Invited Review. Biometals. doi: 10.1007/s10534-022-00370-z
    3. Woloshun, R.R. Yu, Y., Xu, X., Lee, J.K., Zhu, S. Ebea, P., Stevens, B.R., Vidyasagar, V., Collins, J.F. (2022) Four Amino Acids Increase DMT1 Abundance in Duodenal Brush-border Membrane Vesicles & Enhance Iron Absorption in Iron-deprived Mice. Blood Adv. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2021005111.
    4. Burkhead, J., Collins, J.F. (2021) Nutrition Information Brief- Copper. Nutr. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmab157.
    5. Collins, J.F. (2021) A Synthetic Ferritin Core Analog Functions as a Next Generation Iron Supplement. Invited Editorial. Nutr. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxab436.
    6. Wang, X., Zhang, M. Woloshun, R.R., Yu, Y., Lee, J.K., Flores, S. R. L., Merlin, D., Collins, J.F. (2021) Oral Administration of Ginger-derived Lipid Nanoparticles and Dmt1 siRNA Potentiates Dietary Iron Restriction and Mitigates Pre-existing Iron Overload in Hamp KO Mice. Nutrients. 13(5):1686.
    7. Flores, S.R.L, Nelson, S., Woloshun, R.R., Wang, X., Ha, J-H., Yu, Y., Merlin, D., Collins, J.F. (2021) Intestinal iron absorption is appropriately modulated to match physiological demand for iron in wild-type and iron-loaded Hamp (hepcidin) knockout rats during acute colitis. PLOS One.
    8. Lee, J.K., Ha, J-H,. Collins, J.F. (2021) Dietary Iron Intake in Excess of Requirements Impairs Intestinal Copper Absorption in Sprague-Dawley Rat Dams, Causing Copper Deficiency in Suckling Pups. Biomedicines. 9(4):338.
    9. Collins, J.F. (2021) Iron Chelates Hitch a Ride on PAT1. Editorial comment. Biol. Chem. 296:100418.
    10. Sung J., Yang C., Collins J.F., Merlin D. (2020) Preparation and Characterization of Ginger Lipid-derived Nanoparticles for Colon-targeted siRNA Delivery. Bio Protoc. 10(14):e3685.
    11. Garrick, M.D., Garrick, L. M., Zhao, L., Collins, J.F., Soukup, J., Ghio, A. J. (2019) A direct comparison of divalent metal-ion transporter 1 (DMT1) and hinokitiol, a potential small molecule replacement. Biometals. 32(5): 745-755.
    12. Wang, X., Garrick, M.D., Collins, J.F. (2019) Animal Models of Normal and Disturbed Iron and Copper Homeostasis. J. Nutr. 149(12):2085-2100.
    13. Wang, X., Zhang, M. Flores, S.R.L., Woloshun, R.R., Wang, Yang, C., L. Xiang, P., Xu, X., Garrick, M.D., Vidyasagar, S., Merlin, D., Collins, J.F. (2019) Oral Gavage of Ginger Nanoparticle-derived Lipid Vectors Loaded with Dmt1 siRNA Mitigates Iron Loading in Murine Hereditary Hemochromatosis. Mol. Ther. 27(3):493-506.
    14. Doguer, C., Ha, J-H., Collins, J.F. (2018) Intersection of Iron and Copper Metabolism in the Mammalian Intestine and Liver. Physiol. 14;8(4):1433-1461, 2018.
    15. Wang, X., Flores, S.R.L., Ha, J-H., Doguer, C., Woloshun, R.R, Xiang, P., Grosche, A., Vidyasagar, S., Collins, J.F. (2018) Intestinal Divalent Metal-ion Transporter 1 (DMT1) is Essential for Optimal Assimilation of Dietary Copper in Male and Female Mice With Iron-Deficiency Anemia. Nutr. 148(8):1244-1252, 2018.
    16. Wang, T., Xiang, P., Ha, J-H., Wang, X., Doguer, C., Flores, S.R.L., Kang, Y.J., Collins, J.F. (2018) Copper supplementation reverses dietary iron overload-induced pathologies in mice. Nutr. Biochem. 59:56-63, 2018.
    17. Ha, J-H, Doguer, C., Flores, S.R.L., Wang, T., Collins, J.F. (2018) Progressive Increases in Dietary Iron are Associated with the Emergence of Pathologic Disturbances of Copper Homeostasis in Growing Rats. Nutr. 148(3): 373-378.
    18. Collins, J.F. (2018) Ferroxidases and Mammalian Iron Homeostasis: Novel Insight into a Physiological Phenomenon First Described More Than Half a Century Ago. Editorial Comment. Mol. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 6(4):470-471.
    19. Doguer, C., Ha, J-H, Gulec, S., Vuple, C.D., Anderson, G.J., Collins, J.F. (2017) Intestinal Hephaestin Potentiates Iron Absorption In Weanling, Adult and Pregnant Mice Under Physiological Conditions. Blood Adv. 1:1335-1346.
    20. Ha, J-H., Doguer, C., Collins, J.F. (2017) Consumption of a High-Iron Diet Disrupts Homeostatic Regulation of Intestinal Copper Absorption in Adolescent Mice. J. Physiol. GIL Physiol. 313: G353-G360.
    21. Zhang, M., Wang, X., Han, M.K., Collins, J.F., Merlin, D. (2017) Oral administration of ginger-derived nanolipids loaded with siRNA as a novel approach for efficient siRNA drug delivery to treat ulcerative colitis. Nanomedicine (Lond). 12(16): 1927-1943.
    22. Ha, J-H., Doguer, C., Wang, X., Flores, S.R., Collins, J.F. (2016) High-iron consumption impairs growth and causes copper-deficiency anemia in weanling Sprague-Dawley rats. PLoS One. 11(8):e0161033.
    23. Ha, J-H., Doguer, C. Collins, J.F. (2016) Knockdown of copper-transporting ATPase 1 (Atp7a) impairs iron flux in fully-differentiated rat (IEC-6) and human (Caco-2) intestinal epithelial cells. Metallomics. 8(9):963-972.
    24. Zhang, M., Collins, J.F., Merlin, D. (2016) Do ginger-derived nanoparticles represent an attractive treatment strategy for inflammatory bowel diseases? Nanomedicine (Lond). 11(23)3035-3037.



James F. Collins, Ph.D.
University of Florida Research Foundation Professor
Food Science & Human Nutrition Department
FSHN Building (#475)
Room 441A
527 Newell Drive
PO Box 110370
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
Office: (352) 294-3749
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