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.

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.

Non-B DNA and microsatellite variation and evolution

Approximately 13% of the genome can fold into DNA structures different from the B-form double-helix discovered by Watson and Crick. Such “non-B DNA” structures include cruciforms, triplexes, slipped-strand structures, G-quadruplexes (G4s), Z-DNA, and bent DNA. They form at certain DNA sequence motifs that are ubiquitous in the genomes of prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

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

New mutations occur at increasing rates in the mitochondrial genomes of developing egg cells in aging rhesus monkeys, but the increases …

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. — Newly developed risk scores synthesize genetic information into an easy-to-interpret metric that could help …

Some regions of the human genome where the DNA can fold into unusual three-dimensional structures called G-quadruplexes (G4s) show …

Recent Publications

More Publications

. Whole-genome sequence and assembly of the Javan gibbon (Hylobates moloch). J HERED, 2022.

Sex chromosome Paper Link

. Variation in G-quadruplex Sequence and Topology Differentially Impacts Human DNA Polymerase Fidelity. DNA REPAIR, 2022.

Non-B DNA & Microsatellite Paper Link

. Advanced age increases frequencies of de novo mitochondrial mutations in macaque oocytes and somatic tissues. P NATL ACAD SCI USA, 2022.

Mitochondrial Paper Link

. INSIGHT responsive parenting educational intervention for firstborns is associated with growth of secondborn siblings. OBESITY, 2022.

Childhood Obesity Paper Link

. Metabolomic profiling of stool of two-year old children from the INSIGHT study reveals links between butyrate and child weight outcomes. PED OBESITY, 2022.

Childhood Obesity Paper Link

. Constructing a polygenic risk score for childhood obesity using functional data analysis. ECON STAT, 2021.

Childhood Obesity Paper Link

. Selection and thermostability suggest G-quadruplexes are novel functional elements of the human genome. GENOME RES, 2021.

Non-B DNA & Microsatellite Paper Link

. Towards complete and error-free genome assemblies of all vertebrate species. Nature, 2021.

Sex chromosome Paper Link

Sarah J. Carnahan Craig

Research Assistant Professor

Robert Harris

Research Assistant Professor

Barb McGrath

Associate Research Professor

Marta Tomaszkiewicz

Research Assistant Professor

Allison Watwood

Ph.D. student

Matthias Weissensteiner

Postdoctoral Scholar


  • +1-814-863-1619
  • 310 Wartik Lab, University Park, Pennsylvania, 16802, USA