Genomic Studies of Adaptive Traits in Africa

Sunday, February 14, 2016: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Marriott Balcony B (Marriott Wardman Park)
Sarah Tishkoff, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Africa is thought to be the ancestral homeland of all modern human populations within the past 200,000 years.  It is also a region of tremendous cultural, linguistic, climatic, and genetic diversity.   Despite the important role that African populations have played in human history, they remain one of the most underrepresented groups in human genomics studies. A comprehensive knowledge of patterns of variation in African genomes is critical for a deeper understanding of human genomic diversity, the identification of functionally important genetic variation, the genetic basis of adaptation to diverse environments and diets, and the origins of modern humans. We have characterized genomic variation in thousands of ethnically and geographically diverse Africans in order to reconstruct human population history and local adaptation to variable environments.  We identify ancient common ancestry among geographically diverse hunter-gatherer populations.  In addition, we have identified candidate genes that play a role in adaptation to infectious disease, diet, high altitude, skin color, and stature.