Next Meeting of the Pre-Columbian Society

Saturday, November 4, 2017 1:30 pm at the Penn Museum - room 345 -
Note the date change - Daniel Harris, PhD Candidate, O'Connor Lab, Graduate Program in Molecular Medicine, Program in Personalized and Genomic Medicine, Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine: "The Evolutionary Genomic Dynamics of Peruvians Before, During, and After the Inca Empire"

The Andean region of Peru experienced a dynamic pre-Columbian history which culminated with the Inca Empire. Following the Inca, Spanish conquerors ruled Peru for nearly 300 years until Peruvian Independence. The Spanish and early Native American empires greatly impacted modern Peruvian demography; only recently did genomics add insight to these processes. Therefore, we sequenced 150 and genotyped an additional 130 genomes from Native American and mestizo populations in Peru. The majority of these samples posses greater than 90% Native American ancestry. Demographic modeling indicates these populations diverged early in Peruvian history which supports the hypothesis that the New World was peopled rapidly. Following the initial peopling, Native American populations remained relatively isolated while mestizo populations have evidence of admixture between multiple Native American population in addition to their Old World admixture. During the Inca Empire the center of genetic relatedness is based in the Andes and this center shifts towards the coast during Spanish rule. Therefore showing the Inca and Spanish were critical in shaping Peruvian demography. Further, the majority of migration in Peru is in descent of the Andes towards the Amazon and coast. This could be further evidence of the Inca and other Andean Empires' influence on Peru and/or reflective of negative selection pressures placed on new migrants to the high altitude environment in the Andes.

Daniel Harris, the grandson of John Harris, is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Molecular Medicine Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine where he studies in Dr. Timothy O'Connor's lab at the Institute for Genome Sciences. The major goal of his research is to apply evolutionary biology and population genetics theory to study human history. Specifically, he is interested in the peopling of geographic regions and human migration/admixture patterns. For the later, he aims to utilize rare variation to improve the precision of bioinformatics' methodologies in recent time periods. He also studies human history through ancient DNA analysis which includes the archaic hominins; Neanderthals and Denisovans, but also more recent anatomically modern human samples. In addition to human history, my research also works towards the goal of being able to more appropriately apply Precision Medicine to populations worldwide. He mostly focuses on genetically understudied populations, such as Native Americans, but also works with the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine Program which consists of the largest sequenced human dataset to date. Daniel has presented his work at the American Society for Human Genetics, Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, and the Evolutionary Demography Society. In addition, he presented at the 1st Annual Molecular Medicine Research Retreat where he won the award for best oral presentation. Prior to his thesis studies, Daniel graduated from St. Mary's College Maryland in 2014 with a B.A. in Biology under the guidance of Dr. Kevin Emerson and won the award for best oral presentation of a Biology senior thesis.


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