Research Interests

I apply molecular genetic techniques and statistical population genetics to a variety of basic and applied problems. I use evolutionary approaches to study the genetics of complex diseases, such as coronary artery disease and end-stage kidney disease. This work also involves the development of new bioinformatic tools at the single-gene to genomic levels. I also apply evolutionary genetics to conservation biology, with my main current efforts being the impact of managed forest fires at the landscape level upon the genetic population structure of species inhabiting that landscape, and the impact of human activities upon dispersal in endangered species. Finally, I am interested in basic questions about evolution, such as the meaning of "species", the mechanisms by which new species evolve, coadapted gene complexes, and human evolution over the last two million years.

Some Current Research Projects

  • Genetics of end-stage kidney disease and autism

  • Co-expression of genes in Alzheimer's disease

  • Response of collared lizards, orthopterans, and plants to managed forest fires in the Missouri Ozarks

  • The conservation biology of the endangered salamander Salamandra infraimaculata in Northern Israel

  • Gene expression in diverse habitats in the genus Salamandra

  • The landscape genetics and conservation biology of the endangered wild ass in the Negev Desert of Israel

  • Coadaptation of the vitamin D receptor gene and skin color genes in human populations

  • An evolutionary perspective on race in humans

Collaborators and Colleagues:

Charles Sing (University of Michigan) - Human Genetics of Complex Diseases

Sharlee Climer and Weixiong Zhang (Washington University) - Bioinformatics

Michael R. Garvin (Washington State University) - Genetics of Autism

Karl Skorecki (Rappaport Institute, Haifa) - Human Genetics of Kidney Disease

Ze'ev Hochberg and Dov Tiosano (Rambam Hospital, Haifa) - Human Genetics of Skin Color and Vitamin D

Leon Blaustein (University of Haifa) - Salamanders

Sebastian Steinfartz (Braunschweig University of Technology) - Salamander gene expression

Arne Nolte (University of Oldenberg) - Salamander gene expression

Shirli Bar-David and Amos Bouskila (Ben Gurion University) - Wild Ass of the Negev

Jennifer Neuwald (Colorado State University), Matthew Gifford (University of Central Arkansas), Lorin Neuman-Lee (University of Central Arkansas), Wade Ryberg (Texas A&M University), Shelby Timm (Missouri Department of Conservation), and Calvin Maginel (Missouri Department of Conservation) - Ozark Fire Project