Behind the Screens: Dropping in on Combinatorial Biology

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Jared Kehe, Tony Kulesa, Paul Blainey

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Jared Kehe, Tony Kulesa, Paul Blainey
Broad Institute and Koch Institute at MIT

Biology is combinatorial by nature. Complex biological challenges, such as those in agricultural ecology or cancer therapy, may require solutions with multiple components. The Blainey Lab builds soft plastic chips, each the size of a credit card, to rapidly screen thousands of microbes or compounds for “hit” combinations that promote health or defeat disease.

Seven droplets, each containing one component, are merged within a single hexagonal well. Researchers examine images of the resulting pool to identify desirable interactions. In this particular experiment, green means go—a promising hit ready for further testing.

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Jared Kehe shares the story behind his image at the exhibit opening ceremony on March 20, 2019.