David Reich (geneticist)

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David Reich is a geneticist and professor in the department of genetics at the Harvard Medical School, and an associate of the Broad Institute, whose research studies comparing human DNA with that of chimpanzees, Neanderthals and Denisovans.

Reich's genetics research focuses primarily on finding complex genetic patterns that cause susceptibility to common diseases among large populations, rather than finding specific genetic flaws associated with relatively rare illnesses.

Reich's research team at Harvard University has produced controversial evidence that, over a span of at least four million years, various parts of the human genome diverged gradually from those of chimpanzees. He was a co-leader, along with statistician Simon Myers, of a team of genetics researchers from Harvard University and the University of Oxford that in July 2011 revealed their completion of the world's most detailed human genetic map to date.[1]

Human origins[edit]

The split between the human and chimpanzee lineages may have occurred millions of years later than fossilized bones suggest, and the break may not have been as clean as commonly thought by modern scientists. The new DNA evidence developed by Reich's team suggests that after the two species initially separated, they may have continued interbreeding for several million years. A final genetic split transpired between 6.3 million and 5.4 million years ago, according to a report on their research published in the science journal Nature.[2]

Harvard anthropologist David Pilbeam calls the new study "terrifically exciting and important work," and commends Reich's method for estimating the time span of human-chimpanzee genetic divergence.

Reich's research findings that Neanderthals and Denisovans almost certainly interbred with modern humans are less controversial, and in fact have been published widely.[3]

Reich's lab has received media attention following its discovery of a genetic marker which is linked to an increased likelihood of developing prostate cancer.[citation needed]


  1. ^ David Cameron (July 20, 2011). "Detail distinguishes map of African-American genomics". Harvard Gazette. Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  2. ^ Patterson, N.; Richter, D. J.; Gnerre, S.; Lander, E. S.; Reich, D. (2006). "Genetic evidence for complex speciation of humans and chimpanzees". Nature 441 (7097): 1103–1108. doi:10.1038/nature04789. PMID 16710306.  edit
  3. ^ Carl Zimmer, "Interbreeding with Neanderthals", Discover, March 2013, pp. 38-44.

External links[edit]