Professor Ali Shilatifard stands in front of a window with a navy suit and white shirt on. There are purple and white orchids behind him on the window sill.

Professor Ali Shilatifard

Chair, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics; Director, Simpson Querrey Institute for Epigenetics; Robert Francis Furchgott Professor; Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and Pediatrics

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


Dr. Ali Shilatifard, Chairman and Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, graduated from Kennesaw State University in 1989 with a degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Organic Chemistry. While at KSU, Shilatifard slept in his car at night for a period in front of the gym and worked all over the campus from bussing tables at the student center, to cooking in the back kitchen, serving as the dispatch for the Kennesaw State College police department, and working as a TA in the Chemistry lab and Math lab to support himself and his education. He was supported by a full academic scholarship by KSU after his first year and graduated in four years. Now, Shilatifard is a renowned biochemist and cancer biologist. He made a seminal contribution to the field of leukemia biology early in his career by identifying the function of a gene translocation in childhood leukemia for the first time. In the 25 years since that discovery, he has dedicated his career to revealing the causes of childhood leukemia and other cancers and to leveraging these findings for the development of new cancer therapies. He currently runs an active research laboratory, heads a large department while he also is the Director of the Simpson Querrey Institute for Epigenetics. Shilatifard has authored over 250 scientific publications and is one of the founding members and is the current Editor of the online publication, Science Advances. He is one of the few scientists in the United States funded by the National Cancer Institute’s Outstanding Investigator Award, and in an effort to inspire young students to consider the STEM fields, he and his wife Laura started the Simpson Querrey Inspire Program.