Welcome to the Pemberton Lab...

New member of the team

Andrew Kwong has joined the group as a summer research assistant following his graduation from the University of Toronto Preparatory School in Toronto. In his summer research project, Andrew is focusing on elucidating the relationship between autozygosity and deleterious variation patterns on the X chromosome in worldwide populations using next-generation sequencing data.

NSERC Discovery Grant Award

We have been awarded a 5-year Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant to explore the genetics of body size among West Central African Pygmies and their non-Pygmy neighbours. In this study, we will explore the genetic and evolutionary origins of the diminutive body size of hunter-gatherer Pygmies in relation to agriculturalist non-Pygmies.

Online HST Talk Published

My recent talk on consanguinity and genome sharing has just been made available at Henry Stewart Talks. In this talk, I explain the biological, population, and cultural processes that hive rise to genome sharing among individuals, the inbreeding coefficient as a measure of genome sharing, and why genome sharing is an important determinant of many human monogenic and polygenic traits and diseases.

Publication in PNAS

Our recent study entitled "A comparison of worldwide phonemic and genetic variation in human populations" has just been published in PNAS. In this article, we analyze the largest available datasets of both phonemes and genotypes in worldwide populations to highlight similarities and differences in the ways human evolutionary history has shaped contemporary patterns in linguistic and genetic diversity.

New member of the team

Sasha Blant has joined the group as a PhD Student after completing her M.Sc. in Physiology. In her graduate training, Sasha will focus on understanding how demographic and cultural processes influence patterns of genetic diversity and individual genome sharing in worldwide human populations and their role in shaping human phenotypic diversity and predisposition to disease.

Publication in BMC Genomics

Our recent study entitled "Sequence differences at orthologous microsatellites inflate estimates of human-chimpanzee differentiation" has just been published in BMC Genomics. In this article, we use the human and chimpanzee genome sequences of 138 microsatellites to convert PCR fragment length genotypes into repeat numbers, creating the first such dataset in which all interspecies genotypes are commensurable.

About the Lab

Research in the lab is focused on understanding the genetic etiology of Mendelian and complex traits, how human population history and cultural practices influence patterns of genetic variation, and the ways in which these patterns can be harnessed to advance the discovery of genes that underlie human disease. We are more broadly interested in understanding how the geographic distribution of human genetic variation relates to the susceptibility of different populations to disease, and ultimately how this variation in disease susceptibility reflects the evolutionary history of human populations. Our efforts will provide a foundation for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic strategies that will help reduce the disease-burden of diverse populations.

Current Research Projects

Phenotype Mapping

The identification of novel genes and genetic variants underlying Mendelian and complex phenotypes is a necessary step in furthering our understanding of their underlying processes and human development. For disease phenotypes, such an understanding is a fundamental step toward developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies to help reduce the disease-burden of diverse populations.

Genomic Homozygosity

Genome-wide patterns of runs of homozygosity and their variation across individuals can provide a rich source of data for uncovering patterns of diversity, population structure, and history of human populations, and for facilitating the identification of genes underlying recessive traits via homozygosity mapping.

Genetics of Asian Indians

In India, centuries-old marriage customs have introduced extensive social structuring into the contemporary population, potentially with significant consequences for genetic variation. Understanding the genetic landscape in India is a necessary first step toward identifying the genetic factors that underlie diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes that occur at high frequency in Asian Indians.

Genetics of African Pygmies

African Pygmies are hunter-gatherer populations from the equatorial rainforest that have the shortest average adult height among worldwide human populations. Investigating patterns of genetic variation in these populations will hopefully shed light on the biological basis and the putative adaptive role of the short stature of Pygmy populations, and increase our understanding of their unique evolutionary history.

Genetics of First Nations

The peopling history of the Americas remains the subject of numerous archaeological, paleo-anthropological, linguistic, and population genetics debates. Exploring the genetic diversity and evolutionary history of indigenous peoples of the Americas and investigating the patterns and history of admixture in these communities will help improve upon our current knowledge of the complex history of this continent.

Genetics of Cape Verde

Cape Verde is an archipelago consisting of nine inhabited islands located off the shores of Senegal whose contemporary populations reflect the diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds of the original 15th century European and continental African settlers. Thus, the Cape Verde archipelago affords us an opportunity to jointly reconstruct the history of both language varieties and genetic diversity in an admixed population.


Department of Biochemistry and
Medical Genetics

University of Manitoba
Rm 309 - 745 Bannatyne Avenue
Winnipeg, MB, R3E 0J9
+1 204 789 3602Telephone (office):
+1 204 789 3524Telephone (lab):
+1 204 789 3900Fax: