Theodore G. Schurr

Professor of Anthropology; Acting Graduate Group Chair

M.A. Emory University, 1996; Ph.D. Emory University 1998

I am a Professor in the Department of Anthropology, and a Consulting Curator in the Physical Anthropology and American Sections of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology.  I am also the Director of the North American Regional Center of the Genographic Project, and Head of the Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.

For the past twenty-five years, I have investigated the genetic prehistory of Asia and the Americas through studies of mtDNA, Y-chromosome and autosomal DNA variation in Asian, Siberian and Native American populations.  Our current projects include studies of genetic diversity in indigenous populations of Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.  My research group is also investigating the population history of Georgia (Caucasus), Pakistan and Kazakhstan through our collaborative genetic studies in those countries.


Courses Taught:

ANTH104 Sex and Human Nature

ANTH106 Anthropological Genetics

ANTH244 Disease and Human Evolution

ANTH246/649 Molecular Anthropology

ANTH249 Evolutionary Medicine

ANTH602 Evolutionary Anthropology

ANTH695 Current Topics in Molecular Anthropology

Research Interests:

Subject areas: Human evolutionary genetics, mitochondrial biology and disease, biomedical genetics, ancient DNA, primate genetics; Geographic areas: Africa, Americas, Australia, Georgia (Caucasus), Melanesia, Siberia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Turkey



Books and Edited Volumes:

Weber AW, Katzenberg MA, Schurr TG, eds. 2010. Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of the Baikal Region, Siberia: Bioarchaeological Studies of Past Lifeways. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Peer-Reviewed Articles:

Nagle N, Ballantyne KN, van Oven M, Tyler-Smith C, Xue Y, Wilcox S, Wilcox L, Turkalov R, van Oorschot RAH, van Holst Pellekaan S, Schurr TG, McAllister P, Williams L, Kayser, Mitchell RJ, The Genographic Consortium. 2016. Mitochondrial DNA diversity of present-day Aboriginal Australians and implications for human evolution in Oceania. J Hum Genet advance online publication, 1 December 2016; doi:10.1038/jhg.2016.147.

Jota MS, Lacerda DR, Sandoval JR, Vieira PPR, Soares DOQ, Santos-Júnior JE, Acosta O, Cuellar C, Revollo S, Paz-y-Miño C, Fujita R, Vallejo GA, Schurr TG, Tarazona-Santos EM, Peña SDJ, Ayub Q, Tyler-Smith C, Santos FR, The Genographic Consortium. 2016. New native South American Y-chromosome lineages. J Hum Genet DOI: 10.1038/jhg.2016.26.

Krzywanski DM, Moellering DR, Westbrook DG, Dunham-Snary KJ, Brown J, Bray AW, Feeley KP, Sammy MJ, Smith MR, Schurr TG, Vita JA, Ambalavanan N, Calhoun D, Dell’Italia L, Ballinger SW. 2016. Endothelial cell bioenergetics and mitochondrial DNA damage differ in humans having African or West Eurasian maternal ancestry. Circ Cardiovasc Genet DOI: 10.1161/CIRCGENETICS.115.001308.

Schurr TG, Yardumian Y, Shengelia R, Bitadze L, Chitanava D, Laliashvili S, Laliashvili I, Sanders A, Azzam A, Groner V, Edleson K, Vilar M. 2015. Genetic diversity and population history in Svaneti, northwestern Georgia. Caucasiologic Papers 7: 319-336.

Benn Torres J, Vilar MG, Torres G, Gaieski JB, Bharath Hernandez R, Browne ZE, Stevenson M, Waters W, Schurr TG, The Genographic Consortium. 2015. Genetic diversity in Carib and Garifuna populations of the Lesser Antilles reveals significant indigenous ancestry and insights into Caribbean settlement history. PLoS ONE 10(10): e0139192 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0139192.

Babb PL, Fernandez-Duque E, Schurr TG. 2015. Monogamous owl monkeys differ in the structure of OXTR from other non-monogamous primates. Mol Phylogenet Evol 91: 160–177.

Badano I, Totaro ME, Culasso ACA, Sanabria DJ, Schurr TG, Balette IC, Roisman A, Basiletti J, Picconi MA, Campos RH, Domingo LJ. 2015. Genetic characterization and clinical implications of human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) variants from northeastern Argentina. Infect Genet Evol 29: 103-105.

Vilar MG, Melendez C, Sanders A, Walia A, Gaieski JB, Owings AC, Schurr TG, The Genographic Consortium. 2014. Genetic diversity in Puerto Rico and its implications for the peopling of the West Indies. Am J Phys Anthropol 155: 352–368.

Huck M, Fernandez-Duque E, Babb PL, Schurr TG. 2014. Correlates of genetic monogamy in pair-living mammals: Insights from Azara’s owl monkeys. Proc Roy Soc Lond B 281(1782): 20140195.

Elhaik E, Tatarinova T, Chebotarev D, Piras IS, Calò CM, De Montis A, Atzori M, Marini M, Tofanelli S, Francalacci P, Pagani L, Tyler-Smith C, Yali Xue Y, Cucca F, Schurr TG, Gaieski JB, Melendez C, Vilar MG, Owings AC, Gomez R, Fujita R, Santos FR, Comas D, Balanovsky O, Balanovska E, Zalloua P, Soodyall H, Pitchappan R, GaneshPrasad A, Hammer M, Matisoo-Smith L, Wells RS, The Genographic Consortium. 2014. Geographic population structure (GPS) of worldwide human populations infers biogeographical origin down to home village. Nat Commun 5: 3513 doi:10.1038/ncomms4513.

Dingley S, Polyak E, Ostrovsky J, Srinivasan S, Lee I, Rosenfeld A, Tsukikawa, Xiao R, Selak M, Coon JJ, Hebert A, Grimsurd P, Pagliarini D, Gai X, Schurr TG, Hüttemann M, Ogiso-Nakamaru E, Falk MJ. 2014. Mitochondrial DNA variant in COX1 subunit significantly alters energy metabolism of geographically divergent wild isolates in Caenorhabditis elegans. J Mol Biol 426(11): 2199-2216.

Elhaik E, Greenspan E, Staats S, Krahn T, Tyler-Smith C, Xue Y, Tofanelli S, Francalacci P, Cucca F, Pagani P, Jin L, Li H, Schurr TG, Greenspan B, Spencer Wells RS, Genographic Consortium. 2013. The GenoChip: A new tool for genetic anthropology. Genome Biol Evol 5: 1021-1031.

Babb P, McIntosh AM, Fernandez-Duque E, Schurr TG. 2013. Prolactin receptor gene diversity in owl monkeys (Aotus spp.) and humans suggests a non-neutral evolutionary history among primates. Internatl J Primatol 35: 129–155.

Fetterman JL, Zelickson BR, Johnson LW, Moellering DR, Westbrook DG, Pompilius M, Sammy MJ, Salman ED, Johnson M, Dunham-Snary KJ, Cao X, Bradley WE, Zhang J, Wei CC, Chacko B, Schurr TG, Kesterson RA, Dell’Italia LJ, Darley-Usmar VM, Welch DR, Ballinger SW. 2013. Mitochondrial genetic background modulates bioenergetics and susceptibility to acute cardiac volume overload. Biochemical Journal 455: 157–167.

Schurr TG, Dulik MC, Cafaro TA, Urrets-Zavalia EA, Urrets-Zavalia JA, Serra HM. 2013. Genetic background and climatic droplet keratopathy in a Mapuche population from Argentina. PLoS ONE 8(9): e74593.

Badano I, Schurr TG, Stietz SM, Dulik MC, Mampaey M, Quintero IM, Zinovich JB, Campos RH, Liotta DJ. 2013. TNF promoter SNP variation in Amerindians and white-admixed populations from Misiones, Argentina. Internatl J Immunogenet 40:216–221.

Dulik MC, Zhadanov SI, Osipova LP, Askapuli A, Gau L, Gokcumen O, Rubinstein S, Schurr TG. 2012. Mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome variation provides evidence for a recent common ancestry between Native Americans and Indigenous Altaians. Am J Hum Genet 90:1–18.

Badano I, Stietz S, Schurr TG, Picconi A, Fekete D, Quintero I, Cabrera M, Campos R, Liotta J. 2012. Analysis of TNF-a promoter SNPs and the risk of cervical cancer in urban populations of Posadas (Misiones, Argentina). J Clin Virol 53:54-59.

Xie HM, Perin JC, Schurr TG, Dulik MC, Zhadanov SI, Baur J, King M, Place E, Clarke C, Grauer M, Schug J, Santani A, Albano A, Kim C, Hakonarson H, Gai X, Falk MJ. 2011. Mitochondrial genome sequence analysis: A custom bioinformatics pipeline substantially improves Affymetrix MitoChip call rate and accuracy. BMC Bioinformatics 12:402.

Babb PL, McIntosh AM, Fernandez-Duque E, Di Fiore T, Schurr TG. 2011. An optimized genetic fingerprinting strategy reveals individual identity and kinship in Azara’s owl monkeys (Aotus azarai azarai). Folia Primatologia 82:107-117.

Gaieski JB, Owings AC, Vilar MG, Dulik MC, Gaieski D, Gittelman RM, Dulik MC, Lindo J, Gau L, Schurr TG, The Genographic Consortium. 2011. Genetic ancestry and indigenous heritage in a Native American descendant community in Bermuda. Am J Phys Anthropol 46(3): 392–405.

Yardumian A, Schurr TG. 2011. Who are the Anatolian Turks? A reappraisal of the anthropological genetic evidence. Archeol Anthropol Eurasia 50(1): 6-43 (Summer).

Babb PL, Fernandez-Duque E, Baiduc C, Gagneux P, Evan S, Schurr TG. 2011. Mitochondrial DNA diversity in Azara's owl monkey (Aotus azarai) of the Argentinean Chaco. Am J Phys Anthropol 146: 209-224.

Balanovsky O, Dibirova K, Dybo A, Mudrak O, Frolova S, Pocheshkhova E, Haber M, Platt D, Schurr TG, Haak W, Kuznetsova M, Radzhabov M, Balaganskaya O, Druzhinina E, Zakharova T, Koshel S, Renfrew C, Wells RS, Tyler-Smith C, Balanovska E, The Genographic Consortium. 2011. Parallel evolution of genes and languages in the Caucasus. Mol Biol Evol 28(10): 2905-2920.

Dulik MC, Osipova LP, Schurr TG. 2011. Y-chromosome variation in Altaian Kazakhs reveals a common paternal gene pool for Kazakhs and the influence of Mongol expansions. PLoS ONE 6(3): e17548.

Gokcumen O, Gultekin T, Dogan Alakoc Y, Tug A, Gulec E, Schurr TG. 2011. Biological ancestries, kinship connections, and projected identities in four central Anatolian settlements. Amer Anthropol 113(1): 116-131.

Book Chapters:

Schurr TG, Benn Torres J, Vilar MG, Gaieski JB, Melendez C. 2016. An emerging history of indigenous Caribbean and circum-Caribbean populations: Insights from archeological, ethnographic, genetic and historical studies. In: Zuckerman M, Martin DL, editors. New Directions in Biological Anthropology: Papers Honoring the Legacy of George Armelagos. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, pp. 385-402.

Schurr TG. 2015. Where tides of genes perpetual ebb and flow: What DNA evidence tells us about the peopling of the Americas. In: Suarez R, editor. The Early Human Occupation during the Ice Age in the Americas: New Directions and Advances. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press (in press). 

Schurr TG. 2015. Tracing human movements from Siberia to the Americas: New insights from genetic studies. In: Frachetti MB, Spengler RN, III, editors. Mobility and Ancient Society in Asia and the Americas. Basel: Springer, pp. 23-47. 

Schurr TG. 2014. Human genetic diversity in a global context. In: Spooner BL, editor. Globalization: The Crucial Phase, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 71-114.

Schurr TG. 2014. The genetic legacy of Genghis Khan. In: Fitzhugh W, Rossabi M, Honeychurch W, editors. Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire, Washington DC: Arctic Studies Center and Odyssey Books, pp. 275-277.

Schurr TG. 2013. When did we become human? Evolutionary perspectives on the emergence of the modern human brain and culture. In: Hatfield G, Pittman H, editors, The Evolution of Mind, Brain and Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum Press, pp. 45-90.

Dulik MC, Lorenz JG, Schurr TG. 2011. Hasanlu IVB: An ancient DNA pilot project. In: Dyson R, M de Schaudensee, editors, Aspects of Peoples and Crafts in Period IVB at Hasanlu, Iran: Hasanlu Special Studies Volume 4, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum Press, pp. 195-199.

Schurr TG, Pipes L. 2011. The prehistory of Mongolian populations: Evidence from cranio-facial, dental trait and genetic studies. In: Sabloff P, editor, Mapping Mongolia: Situating Mongolia in the World from Geologic Time to the Present, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum Press, pp. 134-165.

Please contact me by email ( to request a copy of any of these publications.

University Museum, Room 432


Office Hours:

By appointment




Anthropology Department Faculty; Department of Biology Graduate Group, University of Pennsylvania; Associate Member, Center for East Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania; Member, CHOP Mitochondrial Research Affinity Group, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; Research Associate, Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania; Member, International Center for Clinical Genetics, Kharkiv, Ukraine; Consortium Faculty, Penn Genomic Frontiers Institute; Consulting Curator, American and Physical Anthropology Sections, Penn Museum; Consortium Faculty, African Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania