Childhood obesity

Obesity is becoming the major epidemic of the 21st century, and we are studying this disease in an integrated way - from the perspective of genomics, microbiomics, and epigenomics. We are following a large group of newborn children until they are at least 3 years of age.

Microsatellite variation and evolution

We have investigated microsatellite evolution in the framework of a life-cycle hypothesis, according to which microsatellites are born and expand into adulthood, until their degradation and death. Microsatellites are implicated in numerous diseases and used as markers in population genetics and forensics.

Mitochondrial mutation dynamics

With sequencing now possible at high depth, we aim to examine mutation process directly, by examining the DNA of children and their parents. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) provides a good starting point for such an investigation due to its compact size and high mutation rate.

Regional variation in mutation rates

Mutation rates vary at a fine scale - even within individual chromosomes. We are using statistical modeling to study such regional variation in mutation rates. Moreover, we are able to segment the genome into regions with high and low rates of different mutation types.

Sex chromosome evolution

We are determining the gene repertoire and structure of the Y chromosome in several mammalian species. The Y chromosome has very high rates of mutation compared with other chromosomes in the mammalian genome due to a higher number of cell divisions in the male than female germ line.

Press Releases

More Press Releases

Mother’s age, a bottleneck, and selection affect how disease-causing mutations persist A new study by researchers at Penn State and …

Differences in geographic origin of a person’s mitochondrial and nuclear genomes due to admixture can affect function of mitochondria, …

The speed and error rate of DNA Synthesis differs between regions of the genome that form the usual DNA structure (B DNA) and those …

Recent Publications

More Publications

. Pronounced somatic bottleneck in mitochondrial DNA of human hair. PHILOS T R SOC B, 2019.

Code Mitochondrial DOI

. Bottleneck and selection in the germline and maternal age influence transmission of mitochondrial DNA in human pedigrees. P NATL ACAD SCI USA, 2019.

Mitochondrial DOI

. DiscoverY: a classifier for identifying Y chromosome sequences in male assemblies. BMC GENOMICS, 2019.

Sex chromosome DOI

. High Satellite Repeat Turnover in Great Apes Studied with Short- and Long-read Technologies. MOL BIOL EVOL, 2019.

Sex chromosome DOI

. Polygenic risk score based on weight gain trajectories is a strong predictor of childhood obesity. BIORXIV, 2019.

Childhood Obesity DOI

. Functional data analysis for computational biology. BIOINFORMATICS, 2019.


. Long-read sequencing technology indicates genome-wide effects of non-B DNA on polymerization speed and error rate. GENOME RES, 2018.

Regional variation DOI Press Release

Kate Anthony

Research Technician

Barbara Arbeithuber

Postdoctoral Scholar

Sarah J. Carnahan Craig

Research Assistant Professor

Di (Bruce) Chen

Ph.D. student

Wilfried Guiblet

Ph.D. student

Robert Harris

Research Assistant Professor

Bonnie K Higgins

Research Technician

Nick Stoler

Ph.D. student

Marta Tomaszkiewicz

Research Assistant Professor

Rahulsimham Vegesna

Ph.D. student

Allison Watwood

Ph.D. student


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  • 310 Wartik Lab, University Park, Pennsylvania, 16802, USA