David Reich, Ph.D.

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David Reich, Ph.D.
Department of Genetics
Harvard Medical School
NRB 260i
77 Avenue Louis Pasteur
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 432-6548

The Reich laboratory studies population mixture as a foundation for medical, evolutionary and population genetics. Human population history is often explained as a series of “splits”: the divergence of human and chimpanzee ancestors 5-7 million years ago, the spread of modern humans into Eurasia 40,000-100,000 years ago, and the spread into the Americas by at least 15,000 years ago.

However, population mixture has also played a key role in human history. Examples include the origin of African Americans and Latinos, who arose from mixture associated with the slave trade and migrations in the last few hundred years, and the origin of South Asians, who likely descend from mixture of an European-like and ancient Asian population 3,500-8,500 years ago. Looking further back, population mixture may even have occurred during the speciation of humans and chimpanzees, with our ancestors first splitting, then coming together before finally separating.Our group develops novel statistical methods for analyzing data, and shows that these methods work in practice by testing them on data we collect in our lab. We have applied these ideas not only to learn about history, but also to identify risk factors for prostate cancer and multiple sclerosis in a recently mixed population: African Americans.