About Us

The Collins lab opened in April of 2022 in the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, The Friedman Center for Nutrition and Inflammation, and the Drukier Institute for Children’s Health. We aim to understand how nutrition can optimize the immune system by regulating cellular metabolism, host physiology, and the gut microbiota.

Principal Investigator


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Nicholas Collins, Ph.D.

Nick completed his Bachelor of Science with majors in Immunology and Pathology at The University of Melbourne. He then completed an honors year in the laboratory of Dr. Dale Godfrey (The University of Melbourne) studying NKT cell development, and a PhD in the laboratories of Dr. Frank Carbone and Dr. Thomas Gebhardt (The University of Melbourne) investigating circulating and tissue-resident memory T cell responses in skin. After graduating, Nick joined the laboratory of Dr. Yasmine Belkaid at the National Institutes of Health for his postdoctoral fellowship. There, he studied the impact of nutrition on immune responses. The main focus was to develop a mechanistic understanding of how the host adapts to dietary restriction to support and optimize immunological memory, a line of research he is extending in his independent laboratory at Weill Cornell Medical College. Ultimately, Nick aims to harness the impact of nutrition on the immune system in the design of novel vaccination strategies and cancer immunotherapies. Further, he aims to use this information to design rational nutritional intervention strategies that optimize immunity to prevent and treat disease.

Lab Members


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Seong-Ji Han, M.Sc., Ph.D.

Research Associate

Seong-Ji Han obtained her bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in biochemistry at the Free University of Berlin in Germany. She did her Ph.D. research at the University of California, Berkeley, in the laboratory of Dr. Ellen Robey, which investigated the immune response to Toxoplasma gondii. She did her postdoctoral work with Dr. Yasmine Belkaid at the NIH that demonstrated the importance of adipose tissue memory T cells in regulating adipocyte function and promoting host protection against infection. Her current research focuses on understanding the impact of nutrition on the immune system.

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Jesse Williamson, M.S.

Research Technician

Jesse is originally from Man, West Virginia. She obtained her BS in Biological Sciences from the University of South Carolina in 2018, and recently completed her MS in Human Nutrition at the Columbia University Institute of Human Nutrition. While at Columbia, she completed a thesis project examining associations between sleep timing and quality with markers of metabolic health. She aims to attend medical school and become a physician. In the Collins Lab, Jesse will investigate how nutrition regulates immune responses against melanoma.