Andrew J. Atkins, PhD

Andrew graduated from Rutgers University in 2003 with a B.S. in biomedical engineering. He went on to attend graduate school in Philadelphia at Drexel University where he earned his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering in 2012 studying the base excision repair pathway. In 2016 Andrew joined the Wigdahl laboratory at Drexel’s College of Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow. His research in the Wigdahl lab focused on HIV-1 cure strategies based on excision of provirus using the CRISPR/Cas9 system. A particular focus of his research in the Wigdahl lab was the use of unbiased, genome-wide, off-target detection methods for HIV-specific guide RNAs for CRISPR/Cas9. To this end he helped develop a high-throughput version of the GUIDE-seq method to enable more efficient screening of CRISPR/Cas9 targets as gene-editing strategies move towards clinical translation. Andrew has recently joined the Ndhlovu laboratory at Weill Cornell where his research will focus on bioinformatics and gene editing strategies in HIV-1 research.

Research Interest: CRISPR, gene-editing, GUIDE-seq, off-target detection and analysis, next-generation sequencing, HIV-1, proviral targeting, proviral excision


  • Recipient, Outstanding Postdoctoral Fellows Poster, 2nd Place (2020)

    • ​Drexel University Discovery Day

  • Recipient, Investigator in Training Travel Award (2019)

    • 16th International Symposium on Neurovirology

  • Recipient, Outstanding Postdoctoral Poster, 1st Place (2019)

    • ​25th Society on Neuroimmune Pharmacology (SNIP), Portland, OR

  • Recipient, Early Career Investigator Travel Award (2019)

    • ​25th Society on Neuroimmune Pharmacology (SNIP), Portland, OR

  • Recipient, Outstanding Poster, 1st Place (2019)

    • ​52nd Miami Winter Symposium, Evolving Concepts in HIV and Emerging Viral Infections

Fun Fact: In his free time Andrew enjoys listening to and playing music, reading science fiction, and jogging in the city.

Hometown: Medford, NJ


B.S. Biomedical Engineering – Rutgers University (2003)

Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering – Drexel University (2012)


  1. Atkins, A., Allen, A.G., Dampier, W., Haddad, E.K., Nonnemacher, M.R., Wigdahl B. HIV-1 cure strategies: Why CRISPR? Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy, 2021 Feb 7

  2. Chung, C., Allen, A.G., Atkins, A., Sullivan, N.T., Homan, G., Costello, R., Madrid, R., Nonnemacher, M.R., Dampier, W., Wigdahl, B. Safe CRISPR-Cas9 Inhibition of HIV-1 with High Specificity and Broad-Spectrum Activity by Targeting LTR NF-kB Binding Sites. Molecular Therapy Nucleic Acids, 2020 Sep 4

  3. Sullivan, N.T., Allen A.G., Atkins, A., Chung, C., Nonnemacher, M.R., Dampier, W., and Wigdahl, B. Designing Safer CRISPR/Cas9 Therapeutics for HIV: Defining factors that regulate and technologies used to detect off-target editing. Frontiers in Microbiology, Virology section, 2020 Aug 12

  4. Chung, C., Allen A.G., Sullivan, N.T., Atkins, A., Nonnemacher, M.R., Wigdahl, B., Dampier, W. Computational analysis concerning the impact of DNA accessibility on CRISPR-Cas9 cleavage efficiency. Molecular Therapy, 2020 Jan 8

  5. Sullivan, N.T., Dampier, W., Chung, C., Allen A.G., Atkins, A., Pirrone, V., Homan, G., Moldover, B., Feng R., Passic, S., Williams, J., Zhong, W., DeSimone, M., Kercher, K., Szep, Z., Jacobson, J.M., Nonnemacher, M.R., and Wigdahl, B. Novel gRNA design pipeline to develop broad-spectrum CRISPR/Cas9 gRNAs for safe targeting of the HIV-1 quasispecies in patients. Scientific Reports, 2019 Nov 19

  6. Allen, A.G., Chung, C., Atkins, A., Dampier, W., Khalili, K., Nonnemacher, M.R., and Wigdahl, B. Gene editing of HIV-1 co-receptors to prevent and/or cure virus infection. Frontiers in Microbiology, Virology section, 2018 Dec 17

  7. Dampier, W., Chung, C., Sullivan, N.T., Atkins, A., Nonnemacher, M.R., Wigdahl, B. 2018. CRSeek: a Python module for facilitating complicated CRISPR design strategies. PeerJ Preprints 6:e27094v