Research InterestsThe Blekhman lab's focus is on Population, Evolutionary, and Medical Genomics in humans and other primates. We are interested in understanding how genetic variation between individuals, populations, and species creates a wide range of phenotypic diversity. The lab generates genomic data, and employs computational, statistical, network-theory, data mining, and population-genetic approaches, with the goal of achieving a comprehensive understanding of the genetic basis underlying specific complex traits and diseases.
The lab’s major research focus is on understanding the complex interactions between us and our microbiome. Our research aims at answering the following questions:
- What are the genetic, environmental, and social factors that control the composition of the microbiome?
- How do host genetics and the microbiome interact to affect susceptibility to complex human disease, with a focus on cancer?
- How did host-bacteria interactions evolve, and can we identify signatures of these evolutionary adaptations in human and bacterial genomes?
Selected Publications (Pubmed Search)Virulence genes are a signature of the microbiome in the colorectal tumor microenvironment. M. B. Burns, J. Lynch, T. K. Starr, D. Knights, and R. Blekhman. Genome Medicine, 2015
Social networks predict gut microbiome composition in wild baboons. J. Tung, L. B. Barreiro, M. B. Burns, J.-C. Grenier, J. Lynch, L. E. Grieneisen, J. Altmann, S. C. Alberts, R. Blekhman, and E. A. Archie. eLife, 2015 10.7554/eLife.05224
Host genetics shape the gut microbiome. J. K. Goodrich, J. L. Waters, A. C. Poole, J. L. Sutter, O. Koren, R. Blekhman, M. Beaumont, W. Van Treuren, R. Knight, J. T. Bell, T. Spector, A. G. Clark, and R. E. Ley. Cell, 2014 Nov 6;159(4):789-99
Comparative metabolomics in primates reveals the effects of diet and gene regulatory variation on metabolic divergence . R. Blekhman, G. H. Perry, S. Shahbaz, A. G. Clark, O. Fiehn, and Y. Gilad. Scientific Reports, 2014 Jul 28;4:5809
Functional Comparison of Innate Immune Signaling Pathways in Primates. L. B. Barreiro, J. C. Marioni, R. Blekhman, M. Stephens, and Y. Gilad. PLoS Genetics, 2010 Dec; 6(12)
Sex-Specific and Lineage-Specific Alternative Splicing in Primates. R. Blekhman, J. C. Marioni, P. Zumbo, M. Stephens, and Y. Gilad. Genome Research, 2010 Feb; 20(2): 180-9
Gene Regulation in Primates Evolves under Tissue-Specific Selection Pressures. R. Blekhman, A. Oshlack, A. E. Chabot, G. Smyth, and Y. Gilad. PLoS Genetics, 2008 Nov; 4(11)
Natural Selection on Genes that Underlie Human Disease Susceptibility. R. Blekhman, O. Man, L. Herrmann, A. R. Boyko, A. Indap, C. Kosiol, C. D. Bustamante, K. M. Teshima, and M. Przeworski. Current Biology, 2008 Jun 24;18(12)