May 1, 2014

Molly Przeworski Named Professor at Columbia

Molly PrzeworskiMolly Przeworski has joined Columbia University as Professor in the Department of Systems Biology and Department of Biological Sciences. The Przeworski lab investigates how natural selection, genetic drift, mutation, and recombination shape the heritable differences seen among individuals and species. To this end, they develop models of the evolutionary process, create statistical tools, and analyze large-scale variation data sets. Among the goals of their research are to understand how natural selection has shaped patterns of genetic variation, and to identify the causes and consequences of variation in recombination and mutation rates, in humans and other organisms.

Dr. Przeworski earned her MA in mathematics from Princeton University, her PhD in evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago and held a postdoctoral fellowship in statistical genetics at the University of Oxford. She was later a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and on the faculty of Brown University and the University of Chicago. She became a visiting professor at Columbia in 2013 and joined the university as a professor in 2014. Her awards include the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist Award, the Rosalind Franklin Young Investigator Award from the Patricia Gruber Foundation, the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in Computational Molecular Biology.

The Przeworski Lab has two primary research emphases. In the first, they use genome-wide genetic variation data to develop models of the selective pressures acting on the genome. Their goal is to provide a clear picture at the molecular level of when and how human populations adapt, and to identify factors that contributed to evolutionary differences between humans and closely related species.

Dr. Przeworski’s other principal interest is in the dynamics of recombination, an important process in cell division that leads to the exchange of genetic information across chromosomes. Problems in recombination have also been implicated in aneuploidy and chromosomal rearrangements, which cause serious medical problems. Dr. Przeworski has conducted research that revealed recombination rates to be highly variable among individuals and helped to map regions of the human genome that contribute to variation in broad- and fine-scale recombination rates. She has also worked to explain how and why recombination rates evolve in apes.

Read more about Dr. Przeworski’s research.