The 2,174th Meeting of the Society

March 5, 2004

Human Evolution

Sarah Tishkoff

Department of Biology, University of Maryland

About the Lecture

The origin of modern humans continues to be a subject of considerable debate despite the accumulation of large amounts of genetic, archeological, and paleontological data. We know little about the population structure, population size, or genetic diversity of archaic humans at the time of emergence of modern human form. Africa has been recognized as a key geographical region for the evolution of modern humans. And yet, Africa has been greatly underrepresented in nuclear genetic studies. We have conducted analyses of autosomal and mitochondrial genetic variation across geographically and ethnically diverse African populations. Results of this survey indicate very high levels of genetic diversity both within and between African populations and the deepest lineages in East African populations. These data suggest that modern humans originated in East Africa and that non-Africans derive from migration of modern humans out of Africa within the past 100,000 years.

About the Speaker

Sarah Tishkoff did graduate studies with Kenneth Kidd and received her Ph.D. in Human Genetics from Yale University in 1996. She received an NSF Sloan postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Evolution to pursue human population genetics research with Andrew Clark in the Department of Biology at Pennsylvania State University. At present, she is an Assistant Professor of Biology at University of Maryland at College Park. Her laboratory studies patterns of genetic diversity and linkage disequilibrium in African populations, human evolutionary history, and the genetic basis of resistance to infectious disease. She is a current recipient of a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences and a David and Lucille Packard Fund Career Award in Science and Engineering.