Tufts University chemist, entrepreneur elected to National Academy of Medicine

David R. Walt joins exclusive academy advising on national health and science policy
David Walt
David Walt, in his laboratory with Project Coordinator Meredith Knight, holds a number of faculty appointments across Tufts' schools (Alonso Nichols/ Tufts University)
October 24, 2016

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Robin Smyton

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MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Massachusetts (Oct. 24, 2016) -- David R. Walt, Ph.D., has been elected to the prestigious and exclusive National Academy of Medicine, one in a series of accolades from the national and international scientific communities in recognition of his stellar career as a chemist, engineer, innovator and entrepreneur.

Walt, a University Professor and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor, is a renowned researcher. The Walt Laboratory at Tufts is recognized globally for its pioneering work in developing optical microwell array technology for disease detection and cancer diagnostics, and in answering fundamental questions about basic biological processes.

Walt is a founder of Illumina, a company based on his invention of a miniature lab platform that allows researchers to conduct genetic screening and other repetitive experiments quickly and cheaply. He also founded and serves on the board of Quanterix, a privately held company focused on analysis of single molecules, for ultra-sensitive protein analysis, with medical diagnosis applications in development. Walt has published more than 300 papers and holds more than 70 patents.

In addition to his innovative work, Walt is passionate about furthering STEM education in local high schools and fostering a love of science and engineering in young people.

“David Walt has made important interdisciplinary contributions that span the fields of chemical biology and biological engineering, in addition to the development of biological sensors and fundamental studies of catalysis by enzymes and folding of proteins, " says Krishna Kumar, Robinson Professor of Chemistry and chair of the Chemistry Department. "It is fitting he has been elected to two of the three National Academies as a member.”

The National Academy of Medicine, originally established in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine, works to address critical issues in medicine, health and policy, and to serve as an independent source of scientific knowledge for the general public. The National Academy of Medicine works in conjunction with the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering, of which Walt is also a member.

Walt is one of 79 new members elected this year. After their induction, the total active membership of this prestigious academy is 1,947, and the international membership is 146.

"These newly elected members are outstanding professionals who care deeply about advancing health and health care in the U.S. and globally," said Victor J. Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine, about the new members' election.  "Their expertise will help our organization address pressing health challenges and improve health, science, and medicine for the benefit of us all.  It is my privilege to welcome these accomplished individuals to the National Academy of Medicine."

Walt was named a University Professor by Tufts in 2014. In addition to his primary appointment in the Department of Chemistry in Tufts School of Arts and Sciences, he holds appointments in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in Tufts School of Engineering; the programs in Biochemistry, Cell, Molecular & Developmental Biology, Genetics and Neuroscience at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences; the Department of Oral Medicine at the School of Dental Medicine; and the Tisch College of Civic Life. He received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in chemical biology from SUNY at Stony Brook. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor in 2006. He has also received the American Chemical Society's Esselen Award for chemistry in the public interest.

Previously this year, it was announced that Walt will be awarded the 2017 Kathryn C. Hach Award for Entrepreneurial Success by the American Chemical Society in April 2017.

Walt is the only current member of the faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences or School of Engineering at Tufts University to be a member of the National Academy of Medicine. The late Allan MacLeod Cormack, Nobel laureate in Medicine and Physiology, University Professor emeritus and professor emeritus in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Tufts, was elected in 1992.

Walt joins a handful of other members of the Tufts community who have been elected to this national academy, including Diana W. Bianchi, Johanna Dwyer, Jerome P. Kassirer, Stephen Pauker and Irwin H. Rosenberg.

 

About Tufts University

Tufts University, located on campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton, Massachusetts, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.