Research Interests

My research lies at the interface of mathematics, computer science, and molecular biology-developing new computational methods to explore the molecular evolution and functional elements of the human genome. This research direction has been made possible through my collaboration on the Human Genome Project, during which my team posted to the Internet the first publicly available assembly of the human genome sequence. We developed this into an interactive web browser for multiple genome sequences (, which is used extensively in basic and biomedical research, including my own. My recent research focuses on broadly exploring the functional elements of the human genome, primarily by using high-throughput genomics data for interspecies comparisons and then testing the resulting findings experimentally. This research sheds light on the possible functionality of what was once considered to be "junk" DNA, of genomic elements that have been conserved with remarkable fidelity throughout evolution, and of genomic regions that have undergone rapid evolution in the human lineage. One such rapidly evolving genome sequence identified in my laboratory seems to play a role in the development of the human cerebral cortex, a region of the brain that has expanded dramatically in relation to our predecessors. One of my aims is to build realistic and information-rich mathematical models that reflect the full spectrum of events in mammalian molecular evolution. To this end, I have begun to computationally reconstruct the genome of the ancestor common to placental mammals.

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Primary Section

Section 32: Applied Mathematical Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology