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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.


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 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.


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.


Sung Chun is an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Associate Geneticist at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He received his PhD in Computational and Systems Biology at Washington University in St. Louis under the supervision of Justin Fay. He is interested in statistical genetics of complex disease and evolutionary genetics of adaptation and pleiotropy. His current projects include development of statistical test for shared genetic effect between autoimmune disease GWAS and blood eQTL, genetic risk prediction of myocardial infarction, and genetic analysis of cardiovascular co-morbidity.


Melissa Hinely is our lab administrator, who helps keep things running.


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.


Vladmir Seplyarskiy graduated from Moscow State University and did his PhD research in Georgii Bazykin's lab at IITP. Vladimir is interested in mutational patterns and underlying biological mechanisms. He is trying to measure DNA repair preferences by comparing mutational profiles between cancers with very specific deficiencies in repair or replication. Current projects also include characterization of sources for heritable mutations and investigation of evolution of mutation rates.


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.


Onuralp Söylemez is a postdoctoral research fellow. He obtained his PhD in biomedical sciences at Pompeu Fabra University, Spain. During his PhD, he studied the prevalence and role of allele interactions at the protein level in shaping fitness within natural populations and between species. His current research focuses on applying evolutionary and population genetics tools to gene and pathway discovery via diagnosis of patients with Mendelian disorders of unknown etiology. His primary research interests include the link between Mendelian disorders and multifactorial traits, statistical genetics of rare genetic diseases, and novel regulatory mechanisms of pleiotropy.


Donate Weghorn is a postdoctoral fellow who obtained her PhD in theoretical physics at the University of Cologne, Germany. Her research focuses on developing probabilistic models based on population genetics, with the particular aim of extracting selection signals. Donate's primary interest is in cancer, involving describing how cancer tumors come into existence and are maintained, despite selective forces working against these processes. Previous work includes inference of selection in the human germline, in the human gut microbiome, and on nucleosome formation.


Former Lab Members

Dana Vuzman (Postdoctoral fellow)
Daniel Jordan (Graduate student)
Jae-Hoon Sul (Postdoctoral fellow)
Tobias Lenz (Postdoctoral fellow)
Paz Polak (Postdoctoral fellow)
Nina Stoletzki (Postdoctoral fellow)
Ignaty Leshchiner (Postdoctoral fellow)
David Nusinow (Postdoctoral fellow)
Nathan Stitziel (Postdoctoral fellow)
Adam Kiezun (Postdoctoral fellow)
Alex Shpunt (Graduate student)
Gregory Kryukov (Postdoctoral fellow)
Victor Spirin (Postdoctoral fellow)
Saurabh Asthana (Graduate student)
Steffen Schmidt (Postdoctoral fellow)