The biological landscape is made up of millions of variables that interact in complex and often seemingly random ways. I am applying principles from physical and computational sciences to the study of biology to find patterns in these interactions, to obtain insight into population genetics, human evolution, and diseases including cancer.
Gurinder S. “Mickey” Atwal and colleagues are applying insights from the physical and computational sciences to the study of population genetics and human disease. The Atwal lab has modeled the process by which genetic variants, or alleles, have evolved in the last 100,000 years of human history. This has recently led to surprising insights about the role of p53, a master tumor suppressor gene, in female fertility and furthered our understanding of how complex gene networks evolve. The lab has analyzed the comparative genomics and physical organization of cancerrelated genes and their role in mediating tumorigenesis across numerous tissue types. Recently, they have begun to focus efforts on understanding cancer genome evolution on shorter time scales by analyzing nucleotide sequences from single cells.
What Silicon Valley and biology research share
September 15, 2017
Further discussion with Associate Professor Gurinder "Mickey" Atwal about the need for more math and physics in biology.
Biology, behind the screens
August 15, 2017
Associate Professor Gurinder "Mickey" Atwal talks about the essential mystery at the center of quantitative biology.
Math teacher wins school popularity contest (again)
June 7, 2017
Math isn’t exactly known as “everyone’s favorite subject,” yet Associate Professor Mickey Atwal has won the Watson School of Biological Science’s.
A theoretical physicist’s approach to breast cancer
October 21, 2016
Associate Professor Mickey Atwal explains how exploring numbers and patterns could lead to a new cancer treatment strategy.
WSBS Teaching Award 2016 for Mickey Atwal
May 2, 2016
Mickey Atwal is the third two-time winner of the Winship Herr Award for Excellence and Creativity in Teaching.
Finding huge promise in a single cell with student Robert Aboukhalil
November 2, 2015
Robert Aboukhalil use his skills as a computational biologist to make single-cell genomic data easy for scientists and clinicians to access and use.
Third-year student Abram Handly Santana explores the pancreatic tumor microenvironment
August 1, 2015
Abram Handly Santana wants to understand how the tumor microenvironment contributes to pancreas cancer.
CSHL receives $50 million to establish Simons Center for Quantitative Biology
July 7, 2014
CSHL announced a $50 million gift from Jim and Marilyn Simons to establish the Simons Center for Quantitative Biology.
Researchers propose new way to make sense of ‘Big Data’
February 15, 2014
New application of a classic concept challenges the latest statistical tools.
Watson School of Biological Sciences graduates 10th class on 60th anniversary of double helix
April 29, 2013
The Watson School of Biological Sciences at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory celebrated its 10th commencement
Atwal, G. S. and Kirchhoff, T. and Bond, E. E. and Montagna, M. and Menin, C. and Bertorelle, R. and Scaini, M. C. and Bartel, F. and Böhnke, A. and Pempe, C. and Gradhand, E. and Hauptmann, S. and Offit, K. and Levine, A. J. and Bond, G. L. (2009) Altered tumor formation and evolutionary selection of genetic variants in the human MDM4 oncogene. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 106(25) pp. 10236-10241.
Atwal, G. S. and Rabadan, R. and Lozano, G. and Strong, L. C. and Ruijs, M. W. and Schmidt, M. K. and van't Veer, L. J. and Nevanlinna, H. and Tommiska, J. and Aittomaki, K. and Bougeard, G. and Frebourg, T. and Levine, A. J. and Bond, G. L. (2008) An information-theoretic analysis of genetics, gender and age in cancer patients. PLoS ONE, 3(4) pp. e1951.
Hu, W. and Feng, Z. and Atwal, G. S. and Levine, A. J. (2008) p53: a new player in reproduction. Cell Cycle, 7(7) pp. 848-52.
Atwal, G. S. and Bond, G. L. and Metsuyanim, S. and Papa, M. and Friedman, E. and Distelman-Menachem, T. and Ben Asher, E. and Lancet, D. and Ross, D. A. and Sninsky, J. and White, T. J. and Levine, A. J. and Yarden, R. (2007) Haplotype structure and selection of the MDM2 oncogene in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 104(11) pp. 4524-9.
Slonim, N. and Atwal, G. S. and Gasper, T. and Bialek, W. (2005) Information-based clustering. Proc Nat Acad Sci (USA), 102(51) pp. 18297-18302.Additional materials of the author at
CSHL Institutional Repository