We use the tools of computer science and statistics to address problems in genetics, evolution, and biomedicine.
Our group is located in the Department of Biological Sciences and affiliated with the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, the Center for Structural Biology, and the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University.
Humans differ from one another and our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, in a wide range of traits, including our susceptibility to many diseases. We model the evolutionary processes that have produced these novel traits and develop algorithms that compare genomes to predict the functional relevance of specific genetic differences between individuals and species.
Our research is motivated by several questions:
- How have evolutionary processes produced the astonishing diversity of form and function present in the natural world?
- How can better algorithms lead to a deeper understanding of biological systems and networks?
- How do genomes encode and maintain the information necessary to produce life?
- How can our increasing knowledge of genomic variation be translated into the treatment and prevention of disease?
We investigate these questions in a number of model systems, but our main focus is on the origins and recent evolution of human populations and their primate relatives.