Keynote Speaker Janet Kelso
Janet Kelso is head of the Bioinformatics research group at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. She has a broad interest in quantitative approaches to understanding genome evolution and the molecular basis of phenotypic variation and disease susceptibility. Her group has worked extensively on the analysis of ancient genomes and have a special interest in the development of novel software for processing and analysis of high-throughput sequence data from ancient samples and the use of computational approaches to gain insights into genome evolution.
Janet received her PhD in bioinformatics from the South African National Bioinformatics Institute at the University of the Western Cape under the supervision of Professor Winston Hide developing an ontology for classifying gene expression data for which she won the L'Oreal women in science fellowship. She is author of more than 80 peer-reviewed scientific publications. Together with Alfonso Valencia, Janet is the co-Editor-in-chief of the journal Bioinformatics, and also an editor of the journal Database. She is an active member of the Board of the International Society of Computational Biology and has held the positions of both Vice-president and Secretary of the society.
Abstract of the talk
The genomes of archaic and early modern humans offer a unique window into their histories. However, the sequencing and analysis of DNA from archaic humans is complicated by DNA degradation, chemical modifications and contamination. Recent technological advances have made it possible to recover nuclear DNA sequences from a number of archaic and early modern humans and a number of important insights have been obtained from the whole genome sequences that have been generated. Comparison of archaic genome sequences to the genome sequences of present-day humans has allowed us to identify sequence differences that have come to fixation or reached high frequency in modern humans since their divergence from Neandertals and Denisovans, some of which may have important functional effects in modern humans. Further, ancient genomes have provided direct evidence that interbreeding between archaic humans and early modern humans occurred and that it resulted in between 1-6% archaic human DNA in the genomes of present day non-Africans. This introgressed DNA has been shown to have both positive and negative outcomes for present-day carriers: underlying apparently adaptive phenotypes as well as influencing disease risk. I will discuss recent work in which we have identified Neandertal haplotypes that are likely of archaic origin and determined the likely functional consequences of these haplotypes using public genome, gene expression, and phenotype datasets.