Aaron J. Sams

Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology — Cornell University

Neanderthal adaptive introgression and the modern human immune response

September 28th, 2015

Academic Building A G008, 5:05 PM
Co-sponsored with Anthropology



It is now clear that Neanderthals, a population of humans that inhabited western Eurasia from approximately 300 to 40 thousand years ago, are among the ancestors of modern humans. The ancestry of all individuals living outside of sub-Saharan Africa is composed of roughly two percent Neanderthal ancestry. It remains largely unclear to what extent this contribution from Neanderthals impacts modern human biology, and further, to what extent it may have provided adaptive genetic variation to modern human populations. The immune system is one physiological system that harbors higher than typical amounts of genetic variation in order to provide a flexible set of responses to infection. In this talk, I will discuss our attempts to understand the contribution of Neanderthals to the modern human immune system and focus on the particular example of the OAS gene cluster for which we have demonstrated a signal of introgression that was likely subject to positive natural selection.


Aaron utilizes genomic data from living and ancient humans (including Neanderthals and Denisovans) to better understand the evolution of complex genetic traits, including those related to human health, in conjunction with recent changes in human culture and demography. He is also interested in applying computational and simulation approaches to address broader concepts in anthropological genomics such as inference of human dispersal, admixture, and demography. Aaron received his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012 and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology at Cornell University, working in the lab of Philipp Messer.


Reading will be posted to the EvoS blackboard group. Anyone with a Binghamton University email address can request to be added to the blackboard group by emailing EvoS[at]binghamton[dot]edu.


Video will be available within the week after the talk.

Last Updated: 9/23/15