Paul Blainey is a core member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT. An expert in microfluidic systems for studies of individual molecules and cells, Blainey is applying this technology to advance understanding of DNA-protein interaction and genetic differences between cells.
The Blainey group is developing microfluidic, chemical, and sequencing approaches to make high-quality analyses of single cells routine. This capability will allow scientists to determine the genomic sequences from organisms that have not been successfully cultured in the lab and examine genetic differences on a cell-to-cell basis, driving new insights into fundamental aspects of microbial evolution and the population structure of human pathogens. Blainey also develops new applications of microfluidics in single-cell and single-molecule science and plans to apply a microfluidic platform to connect high-resolution image data with molecular data obtained from single cells. He wants to empower researchers to micro-sample biological specimens, accurately guided by imaging data, and then perform sensitive molecular analyses.
Recently, Blainey and colleagues reported the discovery of new classes of biomolecules that are able to slide on DNA. Ongoing studies utilizing microfluidic single-molecule assays will extend these results to better understand the molecular features that underlie sliding activity and to identify additional classes of biomolecules that use thermal energy for bidirectional translocation on DNA.
Blainey earned a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in mathematics from the University of Washington. He earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Harvard University, where he studied how proteins interact with DNA with Xiaoliang Sunney Xie and Broad associate member Greg Verdine. He then completed postdoctoral research at Stanford University in the laboratory of Stephen Quake, where he pioneered novel optofluidic methods to perform single-cell microbial sequencing.