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Over the past two decades, Dr. Hammer has headed a productive research lab in human evolutionary genetics, resulting in many published articles (approximately 130) 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 was an early adopter of next generation sequencing (NGS) technology and the application of whole genome analysis in humans, and has been a key player in the Gibbon Genome Project, 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 has recently taken on the role of 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.