David Walt pioneered the use of microwell arrays for single-molecule detection and genetic measurements, which has revolutionized the process of genetic and proteomic analysis, enabling the cost of DNA sequencing and genotyping to plummet nearly a millionfold in the last decade. This technology is now the gold standard for genomic analysis for a wide variety of applications including screening embryos for genetic defects before in vitro fertilization, studying disease in preserved/frozen tissues, improving crop disease resistance, and identifying individuals’ metabolic profiles to ensure proper drug dosage. His lab is developing new diagnostics tools and new biomarker assay technologies based on single molecule detection that can address unmet clinical needs in diagnostics. The lab is focused on early detection of breast cancer, detection of active tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases, and prediction of immunotherapy response for cancer. His lab has been deeply involved in developing new tools to understand and diagnose COVID-19. Walt’s lab is also pursuing fundamental research on single enzyme molecules to provide insight into enzyme mechanisms. He also is a founder and lead of the Wyss Diagnostic Accelerator (Wyss DxA), which works toward the fast creation of diagnostic technologies to solve high-value clinical problems through deep collaborations between bioengineers, clinicians and industry participants.
David R. Walt is a Core Faculty Member of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, is the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Bioinspired Engineering at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Associate Member at the Broad Institute, and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. Walt is co-Director of the Mass General Brigham Center for COVID Innovation. Walt is the Scientific Founder of Illumina Inc., Quanterix Corp., and has co-founded multiple other life sciences startups including Ultivue, Inc., Arbor Biotechnologies, Sherlock Biosciences, Vizgen, Inc., and Torus Biosciences. He has received numerous national and international awards and honors for his fundamental and applied work in the field of optical microwell arrays and single molecules including the 2021 Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine, 2017 American Chemical Society Kathryn C. Hach Award for Entrepreneurial Success, the 2016 Ralph Adams Award in Bioanalytical Chemistry, the 2014 American Chemical Society Gustavus John Esselen Award, the 2013 Analytical Chemistry Spectrochemical Analysis Award, the 2013 Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry Award, and the 2010 ACS National Award for Creative Invention. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and is inducted in the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame.