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Shamil Sunyaev is a Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School and a Research Geneticist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. He holds a Distinguished Chair of Computational Genomics. He is also an Associate Member at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Shamil is a computational geneticist interested in many aspects of genetic variation from the evolutionary, functional and medical genetics perspectives. Population genetics of human deleterious alleles has been one of his major interests. He also develops computational and statistical methods for sequencing studies and methods that use comparative genomics and protein structure to predict the functional effect of mutations.

Lab Members

Ivan Adzhubey is an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Associate Geneticist at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Ivan helps develop PolyPhen-2, a tool for annotating coding nonsynonymous SNPs, which includes a high quality multiple sequence alignment pipeline and probabilistic classifier based on machine-learning method that is optimized for high-throughput analysis of the next-generation sequencing data.


Christopher Cassa is an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, an Associate Geneticist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and a Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His focus is on the clinical interpretation of whole genome sequence data for Mendelian disorders. Areas of focus include incomplete penetrance, detection of epistatic effects, and methods development for pathogenicity prediction using population data.


Dana Vuzman is an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a Director of Brigham Genomic Medicine Analysis. She works collaboratively with multidisciplinary team to discover new monogenic disease genes by genome sequencing. The program involves a broadly distributed team of BWH clinicians who ascertain appropriate cases, a genomic sequence computational analysis pipeline and statistical tools, and an interdisciplinary gene discovery process that involves clinicians, bioinformaticians, and experimentalists working together on a regular basis to identify new genetic variants that cause human disease.


Daniel Balick earned his BSH in physics at Stanford and his PhD in theoretical physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara under the guidance of Boris Shraiman at the KITP. Dan's work focuses on the mathematical modeling of non-equilibrium phenomena in population genetics and evolutionary dynamics. Specifically, he is interested in the interaction between natural selection, stochastic drift, and mutation rate when one or more of these forces is explicitly time dependent. Recent work focuses on inference of recessive selection via population bottlenecks, understanding population genetic constraints on the allelic architecture of complex traits, and the dynamics of mutation rate heterogeneity. Resources relevant to Dan's research can be found here.


Sung Chun is a postdoctoral fellow, and he is interested in understanding the genetic architecture of complex disease and natural selection acting on genetic variation underlying heritable disorders. His projects include development of a risk prediction model for myocardial infarction, identification of candidate causal variants underlying rare undiagnosed genetic disorder and evolution of monoallelic expression.


Tobias Lenz was a DFG-funded postdoctoral fellow in the lab and his research focused on the evolution of genetic diversity in the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and the evolutionary significance of individual MHC diversity. He is interested in the mechanisms that create genetic diversity in the MHC region as well as the selective constraints that shape and maintain the exceptional genetic diversity at MHC and particularly at Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) loci.


Jae Hoon Sul is a postdoctoral fellow, and he obtained his Ph.D. in computer science at University of California, Los Angeles. His research focuses on developing statistical methods in genetics such as correcting for population structure in GWASs, identifying rare variants involved in diseases, and detecting eQTLs from multiple tissues. He is also interested in understanding the genetic architecture of neurological disorders and participates in several GWASs, whole-genome and exome sequencing projects as a statistical analyst.


Donate Weghorn is a postdoctoral fellow who obtained her PhD in theoretical physics at the University of Cologne, Germany. Her research focuses on applying population genetics and statistical methods to data sets from systems undergoing molecular evolution. This involves elucidating the evolution of the human gut microbiome. Another focus of Donate's work is detecting how cancer tumors come into existence and are maintained, despite selective forces working against these processes.


Sebastian Akle is a PhD student in the Harvard Organismal and Evolutionary Biology program. He is interested in population genetics, statistical genetics and gene mapping. He is currently designing a QTL mapping algorithm that uses next generation sequencing and bulk segregant analysis.


Daniel Jordan is a PhD student in the Harvard Biophysics program. He studies the problem of predicting the functional effects of genetic variation, primarily through the lens of the PolyPhen software. His major projects include investigating the effect of epistasis on prediction of variant effects, developing predictors for use in clinical genetic diagnostics, and developing a more accurate way to incorporate phylogenetic data into PolyPhen's predictions.


David Radke is a PhD student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) program at Harvard Medical School. He is interested broadly in human evolution and specifically in how genomic structural variants (such as CNVs and indels, among others) helped shape modern human uniqueness. He combines population genetics and comparative genomics to assess the role of structural variants in both modern human and archaic populations.


Mashaal Sohail is a PhD student in the Harvard Systems Biology program. She is broadly interested in problems in evolutionary genetics, particularly those relating to adaptation and the evolutionary history of man. In the Sunyaev lab, her projects include detecting patterns of epistasis in fitness and other complex traits using next-generation sequencing data, and exploring the link between selection and the expression patterns of genes.


Karen Barry is our lab administrator, who helps keep things running.