Portrait of Arslan Zaidi
Office Address

6-126 MCB
420 Washington Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Lab Address

United States



Assistant Professor
Genetics, Cell Biology and Development

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been extremely successful at discovering genetic variants underlying many diseases. There is a great deal of interest in translating these findings to estimate an individual’s genetic risk for disease (so-called polygenic risk) to be used in the clinic for early prevention and intervention. Unfortunately, the predictive ability of polygenic risk prediction is at present limited and varies as a function of ancestry. This is because both variant discovery and prediction accuracy depend on the genetic variation underlying complex traits, which in turn is shaped by population history. We combine theoretical modeling and analysis of empirical data to study these relationships with the long-term goal to improve our understanding of the genetic basis of disease risk in diverse populations.

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Selected publications

 Huang J, Basu S, Shriver MD, Zaidi AA. Interpreting SNP heritability in admixed populations. Biorxiv 2023

Zaidi AA, Morse C, Verma A, Penn Medicine Biobank, Ritchie M, Mathieson I. The genetic and phenotypic correlates of mtDNA copy number in a multi-ancestry cohort. Human Genetics and Genomics Advances 2023

Anova Sahoo S, Zaidi AA , Anagol S, Mathieson I . Long runs of homozygosity are correlated with marriage preferences across global population samples. Human Biology 2022

Zaidi AA, Mathieson I. Demographic history mediates the effect of stratification on polygenic scores. Elife 2020

Zaidi AA, Wilton PR, Su MSW, Paul IM, Arbeithuber B, Anthony K, Nekrutenko A, Nielsen R, Makova KD. Bottleneck and selection in the germline and maternal age influence transmission of mitochondrial DNA in human pedigrees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2019

Zaidi AA, Makova KD. Investigating mito-nuclear interactions in human admixed populations. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2019

Zaidi AA , White JD , Mattern BC, Liebowitz CR, Puts DA, Claes P, Shriver MD. Facial masculinity does not appear to be a condition-dependent male ornament in humans and does not reflect MHC heterozygosity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2019

Ye D, Zaidi AA , Tomaszkiewicz M , Anthony K, Liebowitz C, DeGiorgio M, Shriver MD, Makova KD. High levels of copy number variation of ampliconic genes across major human Y haplogroups. Genome Biology & Evolution. 2018

Zaidi AA, Mattern BC, Claes P, McEcoy B, Hughes C, Shriver MD. Investigating the case of human nose shape and climate adaptation. PLOS Genetics. 2017

Education and background


  •    2016 Ph.D. Genetics, Minor: Statistics, Pennsylvania State University, USA
  •    2010 M.Sc. Genetics, University of Karachi, Pakistan
  •    2008 B.Sc. Microbiology, University of Karachi, Pakistan   

Postdoctoral Training

  •  2019 - 2022 Postdoctoral fellow with Iain Mathieson, University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • 2016 - 2018 Postdoctoral fellow with Kateryna Makova, Pennsylvania State University, USA


  • NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/900)