Dr. Randy Atwal

Senior Research Professor

About Dr. Randy Atwal

Dr. Randy Atwal is a Research Assistant Professor in the Kelley research group at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics.

Dr. Atwal received his Ph.D. from McMaster University (Canada) studying the impact of evolutionary sequence conservations and post-translational modifications on spatio-temporal protein dynamics and the emergence of cellular disease states that can empower the discovery of therapeutic genetic modifiers. As a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Genomic Medicine and faculty member at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Atwal’s research investigations and industry partnerships employed the use of patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and directed differentiation for late-onset neurological disease modeling and neurodegenerative disease biology research. These innovative genotype-phenotype characterization studies culminated in a number of high impact publications in Cell Stem Cell, Neuron, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Chemical Biology, and Human Molecular Genetics.

Dr Atwal joined the Kelley research group to further advance whole-genome phenotypic functional genomics for therapeutic target discovery through the development and deployment of a proprietary magnetic ranking cytometry platform as a powerful discovery engine. The seminal publication (Nature Biomedical Engineering 2019) details the marriage of ultra-throughput magnetic ranking cytometry and whole-genome CRISPR-editing and phenotypic screening for the discovery of functional regulators of high priority oncology targets.

Presently, Dr. Atwal is leading the interdisciplinary functional genomics team focused on expanding the use of large-scale phenotypic screening technologies to address challenging unmet needs across diverse biological realms. Specific areas of interest include:

  • Deciphering the functional regulators of undruggable proteins (e.g. KRAS) as novel therapeutic targets
  • Identification and validation of new checkpoint inhibitors for modulating tumor cell/immune cell interactions
  • Development of next-generation of cell sorting technologies for rare cell enrichment for functional profiling and/or in vivo phenotypic CRISPR screening to identify genetic regulators of metastasis
  • Expanding the repertoire of cellular phenotypic readouts suitable for high throughput screening at single cell resolution
  • Use of tissue-selective delivery systems for potential applications in therapeutic genome editing