October 1, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Bioinformatics: Reconstructing Population-Level History from Genetic Variation Data, Oct. 28

Bioinformatics Distinguished Lecture series presents Dr. Russell Schwartz on “Reconstructing Population-Level History from Genetic Variation Data” on Monday, Oct. 28, at 2 p.m. in ARC 106.

Schwartz is Professor of Biological Sciences and Director of  Ph.D. Program in Computational Biology at Carnegie Mellon University.

“Reconstructing the process by which modern human populations emerged by successive divergence and admixture events from our common ancestors is a fundamental question in human genetics as well as an important practical issue in biomedical research,” he says in his abstract. “Existing approaches for learning the history of human populations have often been limited by restrictive assumptions of their underlying population genetics models or inference algorithms and by the need for manual expert intervention at key steps of analysis.  As large-scale DNA sequencing studies have become easier to conduct, large volumes of human genetic variation data have been collected, creating a need for more automated methods capable of drawing inferences about population-scale history from these large variation data sets.  This talk will describe efforts to develop computational models and algorithms for inferring histories of population-level evolution in terms of divergence and admixture events by which population subgroups divide and merge together over time.  We will first examine an approach to use phylogenetic methods on a genomic scale to reconstruct historical population groups and possible events in their emergence.  We will then extend that approach through machine learning methods to identify and model admixture events.  Finally, we will examine how such models might be used to improve our ability to identify meaningful correlations between genetic variants and disease.”

Schwartz earned B.S., M.Eng., and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts of Technology, completing his studies in 2000. After leaving MIT, he worked in the Informatics Research group at Celera Genomics from 2000-02, with a particular focus on analysis of genetic variation data in the human genome sequence then being determined. He joined the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University in 2002, where he is currently a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Lane Center for Computational Biology. Schwartz’s research is focused on models and algorithms in computational biology, with applications to many areas including genetic variation analysis, phylogenetics, cancer biology, and computational biophysics. Schwartz also co-directs the Carnegie Mellon/University of Pittsburgh Joint Ph.D. Program in Computational Biology.

The Bioinformatics Distinguished Lecture Series is Organized by the Ohio University Bioinformatics Laboratory and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

Questions? Contact Dr. Welch, Director of the Bioinformatics Laboratory,


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