UCL Division of Biosciences

Dr Lucy van Dorp

Dr Lucy van Dorp

Senior Research Fellow

Genetics, Evolution & Environment

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Oct 2014

Research summary

My research aims to contribute to the post-genomic revolution in biology and medicine through the use of computational methods applied to whole genome sequencing data to determine the factors giving rise to the patterns of genetic diversity we observe in human-associated pathogens. As a computational biologist, with a PhD in population genetics, my work draws across methodological disciplines, including phylogenetics and machine learning. 

Currently, my work focuses on reconstructing the evolutionary history of significant infectious diseases, including COVID-19, Tuberculosis,  Malaria and multidrug-resistant hospital infections. Through the development and application of computational methods I infer the key factors which contribute to the emergence, spread and transmission of bacterial,  viral, fungal and eukaryotic pathogens. I aim to place these reconstructions in strong societal and historical context. This requires addressing to what extent the spread of a specific disease might be closely linked to human or animal movements, subsistence practices and trade, but also considers the effect of the introduction of a specific drug or the choice of drug treatment in the clinic. 

Therefore my research also covers human demography, migration and admixture history and ultimately aims to connect us to our interactions with infectious disease at both recent eg. the emergence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria and ancient eg. human population structure at the time of the Neolithic revolution, time-scales. 

My main interests are:
  • Human and bacterial (pathogen) population genetics 

  • Haplotype-based methods to infer human demography eg. CHROMOPAINTER and fineSTRUCTURE and to identify, characterise and date admixture/introgression events eg. GLOBETROTTER 

  • Ancient DNA (aDNA) as a tool for exploring evolution at deep time scales  

  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in gram negative bacteria  

  • Transmission chain reconstruction, understanding the emergence and spread of outbreaks 

  • Metagenomic screening tools for rapid diagnostics and taxonomic characterisation of species from modern clinical samples to degraded (museum/ancient) sequences

Teaching summary

  • Lectures and practicals delivered for BIOL0021 Advanced Human Genetics and BIOL0034 Applications in Human Genetics.
  • Guest lecturer on MEDC0027 The Human Microbiome in Health and Disease, INIM0015 Evolution & Infectious Diseases, BIOL0003 Introduction to Genetics and MEDC0108 Advanced Bacteriology.
  • Lectures and practicals on GLB0034 Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases.
  • I also assist on GENE0001 Human Genetics Core Skills and offer projects as part of the MSc Genetics of Human Disease.


Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ02 - Recognised by the HEA as an Associate Fellow |
University College London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2017
University College London
Other higher degree, Master of Research | 2013
University College London/Imperial College
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 2012
Royal Holloway
First Degree, Bachelor of Science (Honours) | 2011