Mickey Atwal

Quantitative Biology Program
Cancer Center

Welcome to the lab website of Gurinder Singh "Mickey" Atwal.

Fueled by massive amounts of data generated from DNA sequencing technologies, the Atwal Lab is currently focused on cancer genomics, immunology and high-performance computing. We often tackle scientific questions computationally by invoking theoretical concepts from statistical physics and machine learning.

A common thread in our research is the quest to understand collective biological phenomena from the perspective of the physical sciences. To this end, we develop and deploy mathematical and computational tools to address quantitative principles governing the behavior of many-body biological systems, ranging from molecular interactions in a single eukaryotic cell to the evolution of the species Homo sapiens.

Our fantastic team of lab members and collaborators consists of physicists, biologists, mathematicians and computer scientists and we work closely with experimentalists and clinicians both here at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and around the world. For more details feel free to browse through our website.

  News and Events
We are hiring computational postdoctoral scientists! Apply here.
  • 10/31/16 Presentation on "Computational Biology" at the CAC2 pediatric research conference.
  • 10/21/16 Read our guest blog post on "A theoretical physicist’s approach to breast cancer".
  • 05/01/16 Mickey Atwal wins the Winship Herr Teaching Award.
  • 05/01/16 Robert Aboukhalil graduates with a PhD. Congrats Dr Aboukhalil!
  • 02/22/16 Tumi and Kristina join the lab for rotation projects.
  • 02/08/16 New paper published, "Ancient trans-acting siRNAs confer robustness and sensitivity onto the auxin response."
  • 01/26/16 Presentation on "Molecular coevolution of the tumor microenvironment in breast cancer" at the SU2C summit, Santa Monica.
  • 01/15/16 Yosuke visits the lab developing information-theoretic algorithms to extract relevant features from large datasets.
  • 09/27/15 Lecturing at Lake Como Workshop and School on Cancer evolution and complexity, Lake Como, Italy.
  • 11/02/15 Listen to Robert heading a single-cell sequencing workshop at Festival of Genomics, San Mateo.
  • 10/13/15 Seminar at Janssen Research, "Personalized medicine and single-cell cancer genomics."
  • 09/27/15 Lecturing at Lake Como Workshop and School on Cancer evolution and complexity, Lake Como, Italy.
  • 09/08/15 New paper published in Nature Methods presenting the web tool Ginkgo. Congrats Robert!
  • 09/06/15 Speaking at Beaston Institute, Glasgow, Scotland.
  • 08/26/15 Quantitative Biology programming bootcamp for new biology graduate students.
  • 08/10/15 New prepint on "Ancient trans-acting siRNAs modulate auxin sensitivity in the moss Physcomitrella patens" posted on bioRxiv.
  • 05/31/15 New prepint on "Learning quantitative sequence-function relationships from high-throughput biological data" posted on bioRxiv.
  • 05/11/15 Speaking at the Starr Cancer Consortium retreat.
  • 05/05/15 Come check out our poster on single-cell DNA analyses at the Biology of Genomes meeting.
  • 03/04/15 Five Points Lecture at the New York Genome Center: "Unravelling the Evolutionary Origins of Cancer".
  • 02/26/15 New "Advanced Quantitative Biology" graduate course begins today. See teaching page for details.
  • 10/19/14 Co-organizing the RECOMB-CG 2014 conference.
  • 09/28/14 Speaking at the Cancer, Systems and Complexity workshop, Lake Como School of Advanced Studies, Italy.
  • 08/27/14 Quantitative Biology programming bootcamp for new biology graduate students.
  • 08/19/14 New prepint on "Statistical mechanics of multistable perception" posted on bioRxiv.
  • 06/05/14 Ariel Gewirtz joins the lab as part of the 2014 URP program.
  • 05/22/14 "Statistical Physics of Population Genetics and Complex Diseases" talk at FACM 2014.
  • 04/01/14 New paper published in Neural Computation, "Parametric Inference in the Large Data Limit Using Maximally Informative Models."
  • 03/27/14 "Big data in the biotech industry" seminar at Long Island Forum for Technology.
  • 03/21/14 "Equitability" seminar at Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
  • 02/18/14 New paper published in PNAS, "Equitability, mutual information, and the maximal information coefficient." Press release
  • 12/20/13 Ace postdoc Bernard Fendler departs to join Brigham and Women's Hospital.
  • 11/04/13 Quantitative Biology course for new biology graduate students, CSHL.
  • 10/07/13 "Population genetics of human disease" seminar at UNAM, Cuernavaca, Mexico.
  • 9/03/13 Quantitative Biology programming bootcamp for new biology graduate students, CSHL.
  • 7/22/13 Computational biology seminar at Philips Research, NY.
  • 7/06/13 Ray Ho joins the lab for a rotation, investigating the frontier of de novo haplotyping of DNA sequencing data.
  • 6/06/13 Ricki Korff joins the lab as part of the 2013 summer URP program.
  • 5/07/13 "Stress, selection, sex, and the human genome" colloquium at Renaissance Technologies, NY.
  • 4/30/13 "Big data challenges in cancer systems biology" seminar at Janssen Research & Development, PA.
  • 4/28/13 Mickey receives the Winship Herr Award for Excellence in Teaching.
  • 4/17/13 Will successfully defends his PhD thesis. Congratulations Dr Liao!
  • 4/01/13 Talitha Forcier joins the lab for a rotation, modeling miRNA-mediated morphogenesis in plants.
  • 3/19/13 Congrats to Roslyn High School student Paul Rogofsky for winning the special award in the Intel Excellence in Computer Science competition for his research project, "On Efficiently Defining the Pancake Network".
  • 2/01/13 New preprint on "Equitability, mutual information, and the maximal information content" posted on arXiv.
  • 1/07/13 Abram Handly-Santana joins the lab for a rotation, analyzing genetic interactions in cancer genomes.
  • 12/18/12 New preprint on "Maximally informative models and diffeomorphic modes in the analysis of large data sets" posted on arXiv.
  • 12/03/12 Co-chairing IEEE International Workshop on Genomic Signal Processing and Statistics (GENSIPS). Come see our presentation on RNA-Seq analysis and genetic network inference.
  • 11/09/12 Come see presentation on the Indian genome by our collaborators at the 2012 meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics.
  • 11/07/12 New paper published in Nature revealing the pivotal role of Foxo1 in regulatory T cells.
  • 11/05/12 Lead instructor of Quantitative Biology graduate course at the Watson School of Biological Sciences, CSHL.
  • 9/25/12 New paper published in Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, reviewing new approaches to uncovering gene networks in cancer.
  • 8/14/12 Come see our accepted presentation at the Mechanisms & Models of Cancer meeting at CSHL.
  • 7/15/12 Sophie Thomain joins the lab for graduate rotation, applying information theory to understand miRNA-mediated morphogenesis in plants.
  • 6/26/12 New paper published in Frontiers in Neural Circuits, detailing the genetic expression program in the developing cerebellar cortex.
  • 6/25/12 Reena Gilani and Paul Rogofsky join the lab for the summer of 2012.
  • 6/07/12 Julian Homburger joins the lab as part of the 2012 URP program
  • 5/21/12 KITP Program on the Physics and Mathematics of Cancer, Santa Barbara, CA.
  • 4/02/12 Robert Aboukhalil and Daniel Yun join the lab for graduate rotations.
  • 12/04/11 Program Committee of the 10th IEEE International Workshop on Genomic Signal Processing and Statistics (GENSIPS).
  • 8/16/11 New paper published in Cancer Cell identifying a gene, PHLPP1, as a prostate tumor suppressor.
  • 6/06/11 Chengyu Liu and Robert Aboukhalil join the lab for the summer of 2011, analyzing gene copy number profiles of tumors.
  • 11/10/10 Co-organizing 9th IEEE International Workshop on Genomic Signal Processing and Statistics (GENSIPS). Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Announcement.
  • 11/02/10 Presentation on "Asymmetric mutation processes in stochastic models of microsatellite allele length distributions in humans" at ASHG Annual Meeting.
  • Dr. Atwal named by Genome Technology as one of the top 25 young investigators in systems biology. See the profile article here, detailing research on developing new computational algorithms to detect genetic variants important in cancer risk and progression.

Mickey Atwal