Michael Wigler, PhD, is a Senior Associate Core Member at the New York Genome Center (NYGC). He is also a Professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), where he has been a faculty member since 1978. Dr. Wigler’s research is focused on the genomics of cancer and the genetics of autism and related disorders.
His laboratory at CSHL demonstrated the feasibility of single cell sequencing for genomic analysis and expects that this work will eventually improve the targeting of cancer treatments and lead to early and less invasive tests for cancer. His studies in human genetics led to the discovery of a vast unsuspected source of genetic variability known as copy number variation and to the hypothesis that spontaneous mutation is a major contributor to autism.
Together with Drs. Richard Axel and Samuel Silverstein at Columbia, Dr. Wigler discovered a technique still used for engineering mammalian cells to produce medicinally useful proteins. His team was the first to isolate a mammalian gene using gene transfer and among the first to identify a mutant human oncogene. His Lab discovered the involvement of three members of the RAS gene family in human cancer; demonstrated the inheritance of DNA methylation patterns; and pioneered the use of yeast as a model to explore more complex organisms, leading to an understanding of the RAS signaling pathway.
Dr. Wigler also co-invented, with Dr. Clark Still of Columbia University, encoded combinatorial synthesis, which has accelerated the discovery of new drug candidates. Together with Dr. Nikolai , he invented RDA, a method for comparative genome analysis that led to the discovery of the PTEN tumor suppressor, with Dr. Ramon Parsons of Columbia University, and was c0-discoverer of the Kaposi’s sarcoma virus, as well as developing representational genomic approaches that are used widely in genotyping.
Dr. Wigler was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Dr. Wigler is also the recipient of many awards, including the Double Helix Medal. Dr. Wigler received his BA degree in Mathematics from Princeton University and his PhD in Microbiology from Columbia University.