Theodore Schurr

Professor of Anthropology

Penn Museum, Room 432



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 thirty years, I have investigated the genetic prehistory of Asia and the Americas through studies of mtDNA, Y-chromosome and autosomal DNA variationin 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.



B.S. University of Georgia, 1983; M.A. Emory University, 1996; Ph.D. Emory University 1998

Office Hours

By appointment

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

Selected Publications


Peer-Reviewed Articles:

Badano I, Sanabria DJ, Totaro ME, Rubinstein S, Liotta DJ, Picconi MA, Campos R, Schurr TG. 2018. mtDNA background, HPV infection and the risk of cervical cancer in a multiethnic population of northeastern Argentina. PLoS ONE 13(1): e0190966.

Yardumian A, Shengelia R, Bitadze L, Chitanava D, Laliashvili S, Laliashvili I, Villanea F, Sanders A, Azzam A, Groner V, Edleson K, Vilar MG, Schurr TG. 2017. Genetic diversity in Svaneti and its implications for the human settlement of the Highland Caucasus. Am J Phys Anthropol 164(4): 837-852.

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 advanceonline 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. Endothelialcell 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. PLoSONE 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. MolPhylogenet 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, Ganesh Prasad 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: 3513doi: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 Caenorhabditiselegans. 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 anon-neutral evolutionary history among primates. InternatlJ 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. InternatlJ Immunogenet 40:216–221.


Book Chapters:

Schurr TG. 2018. Where tides of genes perpetual ebb and flow: What DNA evidence tells us about the peopling of the Americas. In: Suarez R, Ardelean C, editors. People and Culture in Ice Age Americas: New Directions in Paleoamerican Archeology. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press (In press).

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.

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

Courses Taught

ANTH003 Introduction to Human Evolution

ANTH104 Sex and Human Nature

ANTH106 Anthropological Genetics

ANTH143 Being Human: Biology, Culture, Adaptation

ANTH244 Disease and Human Evolution

ANTH246 Molecular Anthropology

ANTH249 Evolutionary Medicine

ANTH 300 Research Seminar

ANTH602 Evolutionary Anthropology

ANTH695 Current Topics in Molecular Anthropology


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



Faculty Status