Research Scientist, BIO5 Institute
Research Scientist, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Research Scientist, Neurology
Michael Hammer, PhD, is a Research Scientist in the Division of Biotechnology at the University of Arizona with appointments in the Department of Neurology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Bio5, the School of Anthropology, the University of Arizona Cancer Center, and the Steele Children's Research Center. Currently Dr. Hammer is interested in the use of the latest DNA sequencing technology to infer the underlying genetic architecture of neurodevelopmental diseases. \
Since 1991 Dr. Hammer has directed of the University of Arizona Genetics Core (UAGC), a facility that provides training and molecular biology services to University and biotechnology communities at large. After receiving my Ph.D. in Genetics at the University of California at Berkeley in 1984, he performed post-doctoral research at Princeton and Harvard.
Over the past two decades, Dr. Hammer has headed a productive research lab in human evolutionary genetics, resulting in over 100 published articles documenting the African origin of human diversity, interbreeding between modern humans and archaic forms of the genus Homo, and genome diversity in the great apes. His lab and the UAGC were early adopters of next generation sequencing (NGS) technology and the application of whole genome analysis in humans, and his lab has been a key player in the Gibbon and Baboon Genome Projects, as well as a consortium that has analyzed the genomes of over 100 Great Apes (GAPE Project).
In the past 5 years, Dr. Hammer's research team has successfully employed NGS methods to identify molecular lesions causing neurodevelopmental disorders in undiagnosed children. This has led to the publication of articles identifying pathogenic variants associated with early onset epileptic encephalopathies. His lab is also currently pursuing studies to identify modifier genes that alter the expression of major genes and how they contribute to phenotypic heterogeneity in Mendelian disorders.
Dr. Hammer is Co-Director of the Genomics Shared Resource at the University of Arizona Cancer Center.
Our research interests are at the intersection of three major disciplines: population genetics, human evolution and anthropology. Our projects generally focus on long-standing questions in human origins, the evolution of primate genomes, and the evolutionary forces influencing patterns of variability within and between human populations. Our research questions cover a broad range of geographic (global to local) and temporal (Pleistocene to Holocene) scales. While we are mainly empiricists, crafting well-designed experiments and collecting the data necessary to answer the question at hand, we have a growing interest in mining large-scale publicly available data. To this end, we are combining data collection and new analysis methods with modeling and the development of statistical tools.
With these increasingly large data sets come both the opportunity to address more refined questions and the challenge of creating and analyzing more complex mathematical models. Our lab maintains close collaboration with quantitative scientists to extend our research methods allowing us to create new models and develop new inferential and computational procedures to address our core research questions.
The scope of our past and ongoing research includes work in four main areas: (i) testing models of human origins and archaic admixture; (ii) comparisons of patterns of diversity and divergence on the X chromosome and autosomes; (iii) identifying the signatures of natural selection in the human genome; and (iv) testing models of genetic, linguistic and cultural coevolution.