UCL Division of Biosciences

Dr Garrett Hellenthal

Dr Garrett Hellenthal

Associate Professor

Genetics, Evolution & Environment

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Sep 2012

Research summary

I am currently a Sir Henry Dale Fellow (jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and Royal Society) working at the UCL Genetics Institute (UGI) on constructing and applying statistical methods to infer human history using genetic data. In particular I often work with genome-wide SNP array data, though my methods are also applicable to sequencing data. I am presently analysing data from multiple ethnic groups across Ethiopia, in collaboration with David Balding, Neil Bradman and Mark Thomas among others, in order to infer mixing events (i.e. "admixture") among groups and the sociological features that lead to genetic differentiation among ethnicities. I am also applying my algorithms to data from over 50 Native American groups (in collaboration with Andres Ruiz-Linares, among others) in order to assess the impact of various regional empires (e.g. Aztec, Maya) on the genetic structure of populations today, in addition to characterizing the genetic profiles of the original group(s) that crossed the Bering Strait to colonize the Americas. 

Teaching summary

I currently organise the Applications in Human Genetics course (BIOL0034) and teach on the Advanced Computational Biology course (GENE0005). I primarily teach the properties and applications of statistical models commonly used in population genetics and some of the main concepts behind these techniques (e.g. Wright-Fisher, coalescent). 


University of Washington Seattle
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2006


Prior to this position, I worked at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG) under the supervision of Peter Donnelly (2009-2012). My primary work involved identifying regions of the genome associated with multiple sclerosis susceptibility using a sample of >10,000 case subjects and healthy controls collected from across Europe, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. This work formed part of the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 2 (WTCCC2) project and involved a collaboration with the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium (IMSGC). 

During this time, I also worked on (and am currently working on) exploring admixture in human populations using genetic variation data, collaborating with colleagues at the University of Oxford (Simon Myers, George Busby, Cristian Capelli, Gavin Band), Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Daniel Falush), and University of Bristol (Daniel Lawson). One project involves characterizing genetic structure across the United Kingdom in the Peopling of the British Isles (POBI) dataset (http://www.peopleofthebritishisles.org/) supervised by Walter Bodmer and Peter Donnelly. Other current research interests include studying genetic differentiation among chimpanzee populations and identifying genetic regions under selection.
I received my undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, at Santa Clara University in 2001. I received my Doctor of Philosophy in Statistics at the University of Washington (with an emphasis in statistical genetics) under the supervision of Dr. Matthew Stephens in 2006. My thesis work was on the development of a new statistical model for estimating rates of gene conversion using Single-Nucleotide-Polymorphism (SNP) data.