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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 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).

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).”



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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