University of California, Berkeley
Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology
Collins has made major contributions to understanding the biochemical mechanisms and cellular regulation of telomerase, the reverse transcriptase for synthesis of telomeric repeat DNA. She has elucidated principles of telomerase structure/mechanism through exquisite reconstitution strategies to sensitize for selective abrogation of particular steps of the tandem repeat synthesis, revolutionizing the understanding of the telomerase catalytic cycle. Collins was the first to demonstrate that telomerase RNA motifs control features of the catalytic cycle or the hierarchical steps of telomerase protein and RNA folding. She made the first link between telomerase deficiency and human disease, and established disease-linked loss-of-function mechanisms.