Molecular Anthropology

Molecular Anthropology @Penn

Molecular anthropology is the study of human evolution, dispersal, and population diversity through genetic analyses. The study of Molecular anthropology can draw from a variety of methodologies including genetic, biological, ethnographic, demographic, and population research methods. Molecular anthropology has been key to establishing relationships within the human evolutionary tree, and establishing migration and human dispersal patterns throughout time. 

Our Work

Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology (LMAP)

Project Director: Dr. Theodore Schurr

The Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology at Penn (LMAP), directed by Dr. Theodore Schurr, uses fieldwork and laboratory analyses to investigate the origins, dispersal and genetic diversification of human and primate populations.  Research being conducted in the LMAP includes studies within the broadly defined fields of human evolutionary genetics, mitochondrial biology and disease, biomedical genetics, and primate genetics. Over the past decade, LMAP researchers have undertaken anthropological genetic projects based in Argentina, Canada, the Caribbean, the Caucasus, Melanesia, Mexico, Siberia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States.

The LMAP also serves as the North American Regional Center for the Genographic Project, a multi-year international collaboration using cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyze historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world to better understand our human genetic roots.

This wide range of projects has provided an essential comparative perspective on human genetic diversity in different parts of the world, and underscored the importance of understanding normal genetic variation for studies of human health and disease.

The LMAP is located in the Department of Anthropology on the fourth floor of the academic wing of the Penn Museum, and is comprised of 1000 square feet of Biosafety Level 2 certified wet-lab space.  The laboratory is fully equipped to conduct molecular biology research, including methods such as basic and quantitative PCR, electrophoresis, DNA sequencing, and SNP and STR genotyping, and has the computational resources required for the statistical and phylogenetic analysis of DNA data.

Primary Supervising Faculty from Anthropology

Dr. Theodore Schurr: