Silicon Valley Monthly Lunch
Single Cell Genomics
Thursday, Apr 21, 2016
12:00 pm - 01:00 pm
This Month's Topic
Single Cell Genomics
Professor of Bioengineering, Stanford University
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
An exciting emerging area revolves around the use of microfluidic tools for single-cell genomic analysis. We have been using microfluidic devices for both gene expression analysis and for genome sequencing from single cells. In the case of gene expression analysis, it has become routine to analyze hundreds of genes per cell on hundreds to thousands of single cells per experiment. This has led to many new insights into the heterogeneity of cell populations in human tissues, especially in the areas of cancer and stem cell biology. These devices make it possible to perform “reverse tissue engineering” by dissecting complex tissues into their component cell populations, and they are also used to analyze rare cells such as circulating tumor cells or minor populations within a tissue.
We have also used single-cell genome sequencing to analyze the genetic properties of microbes that cannot be grown in culture—the largest component of biological diversity on the planet—as well as to study the recombination potential of humans by characterizing the diversity of novel genomes found in the sperm of an individual. We expect that single cell genome sequencing will become a valuable tool in understanding genetic diversity in many different contexts.
About Stephen Quake
Stephen Quake studied physics (BS 1991) and mathematics (MS 1991) at Stanford University, after which he earned a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University (1994) as a Marshall Scholar. He then returned to Stanford University, where he spent two years as a postdoc in Steven Chu's group.
Quake joined the faculty of the California Institute of Technology in 1996, where he rose through the ranks and was ultimately appointed the Thomas and Doris Everhart Professor of Applied Physics and Physics. At Caltech, Quake received “Career” and “First” awards from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health and was named a Packard Fellow. These awards supported a research program that began with single molecule biophysics and soon expanded to include the inventions of single molecule sequencing and microfluidic large scale integration, and their applications to biology and human health. He moved back to Stanford University in 2005 to help launch a new department in Bioengineering, where he is now the Lee Otterson Professor and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Quake’s contributions to the development of new biotechnology at the interface between physics and biology have been widely recognized. Honors include the Human Frontiers of Science Nakasone Prize, the MIT-Lemelson Prize, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler International Prize in Biophysics, the American Society for Microbiology Promega Biotechnology Research Award, the Royal Society of Chemistry Publishing Pioneer of Miniaturization Award, and the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Inventors, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and of the American Physical Society.