Robert B. Darnell, MD, PhD - Founding Director and CEO

New York Genome Center Founding Director Robert B. Darnell, MD, PhD, is the Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn Professor and Senior Attending Physician at The Rockefeller University and an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  In 2014 he was elected a Member of the National Academy of Sciences and has been a Member of the National Academy of Medicine since 2010. He is also member of the Association of American Physicians and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
He has received numerous awards, including the Derek Denny-Brown Young Neurological Scholar Award, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research, the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award in 2012, and an NIH Outstanding Investigator Award in 2016.

Dr. Darnell’s academic work began with studies of patients with rare disorders triggered by naturally occurring anti-tumor immune responses that he discovered are caused by antigen-specific killer T cells, laying the groundwork for the field of immuno-oncology.  His analysis of the target antigens led him to discover brain-specific systems governing the regulation of RNA, the transcribed copies of our genes.  He developed CLIP, a new platform technology that is being widely applied in neurobiology, cancer and inflammatory disease.  

At the New York Genome Center (NYGC), Dr. Darnell’s work has been focused on harnessing the revolution created by the recent dramatic cost reduction in genomic sequencing as well as rapidly advancing information and other technology, utilizing those advances to transform healthcare. He works with the 12 Institutional Founding Members and a growing list of Associate Members from academia and industry, including IBM, to help develop tools capable of analyzing the massive amounts of data genomic sequencing produces into clinically actionable outcomes. He is Principal Investigator on NYGC’s NIH Center for Common Disease Genomics Grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute, the Accelerating Medicines Partnership grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases, and the Sohn Foundation Grant for Pediatric Cancer Research.

Dr. Darnell has studied and worked at a number of the NYGC’s Institutional Founding Members, including Columbia University, The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, The Jackson Laboratory and The Rockefeller University. As Founding Director, he was involved with the growth and advancement of the NYGC since its inception in 2010, and was a member of the original group of New York scientists that helped to shape NYGC’s early direction.