Xiaoliang Sunney Xie received a B.S. from Peking University in 1984, and his Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego in 1990, followed by a short postdoctoral experience at the University of Chicago. In 1992, Xie joined Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where he later became a Chief Scientist. In 1999, he was appointed Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University. He is now the Mallinckrodt Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard, and the Cheung Kong Visiting Professor at Peking University, Biodynamics Optical Imaging Center (BIOPIC).
Xie has made major contributions to the emergence of the field of single-molecule biophysical chemistry and its application to biology. In particular, his group pioneered single-molecule enzymology and live cell studies of gene expression and regulation on a single molecule basis. He also led the development of coherent Raman scattering microscopy, enabling sensitive 3D imaging of live cells and organisms based on vibrational spectroscopy. In addition, his team developed methods for sequencing the genome of a single human cell with high precision, which has been applied to in vitro fertilization, allowing many new borns to avoid genetic disorders.
His honors include two NIH Director's Pioneer Awards, American Chemical Society’s Harrison Howe Award and Peter Debye Award, Biophysical Society’s Founders Award, Department of Energy’s E.O. Lawrence Award in Chemistry, the Leibinger Innovation Prize, the Sackler Prize for Physical Sciences, and the Albany Prize in Medicine. Xie is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a member of National Academy of Medicine.