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04/11/2017 - Medford/Somerville, Mass. - David Walt, University Professor of Chemistry, poses for a photograph on April 11, 2017. (Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)

David R. Walt, Ph.D.

Core Faculty

04/11/2017 - Medford/Somerville, Mass. - David Walt, University Professor of Chemistry, poses for a photograph on April 11, 2017. (Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)

David pioneered the use of microwell arrays for single-molecule detection and analysis, which has revolutionized the process of genetic and proteomic sequencing, 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 sequencing in 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. David’s current research employs optical fiber microarrays for the detection and analysis of single enzyme molecules to provide mechanistic insight into enzyme mechanisms. In another project, his lab is investigating the limits of creating high-density sensing arrays containing thousands of microsensors and nanosensors, and are preparing arrays to perform high-density nucleic acid and protein analysis. One application of this effort is an integrated diagnostic platform for performing medical diagnostics using saliva as a sample instead of blood. The arrays can also be used to study living cells, both as cell populations and as individual cells, and analyze the contents of individual cells by integrating microfluidics with single-molecule detection. They are also studying the behavior of large numbers of cells to understand the distribution of cell behaviors in a population.

David is a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Pathology, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. He is the Scientific Founder of Illumina, Inc. and Quanterix Corp, and has co-founded several other life sciences startups. Previously, he was a University Professor, Professor of Neuroscience, and Professor of Oral Medicine at Tufts University. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the 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, and a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the 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 received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in chemical biology from SUNY at Stony Brook, and did postdoctoral studies at MIT.

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