UCL Division of Biosciences


Prof Mark Thomas

Professor of Evolutionary Genetics

Genetics, Evolution & Environment

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Oct 1996

Research summary

Professor Mark Thomas is an internationally recognised leader in Evolutionary Genetics and Ancient DNA. He is a world leading expert in the application of computational models to the distribution of genetic and cultural variation in human populations.

This has resulted in several significant discoveries in the field including the first DNA sequencing of mammoth DNA, the first direct (i.e. ancient DNA) evidence that early European farmers were not descended directly from indigenous hunter-gatherers, providing the first evidence that lactase persistence evolved independently in Africa and Europe and was absent in early European farmers and many others.

Today Professor Thomas combines his work in research with lecturing in both the divisions of bioscience and archaeology at UCL, overseeing PhD, post doctoral and master students, appearing regularly in the press and at conferences on issues relating to human evolution / genetics / race / ancestry testing / ancient DNA and sits on the editorial boards of several prestigious publications including the Journal Evolution, Medicine and Public Health.


University of Liverpool
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1990
University of Birmingham
First Degree, Bachelor of Science | 1986


Professional History

Oct. 2009 – present Professor of Evolutionary Genetics, Department of Genetics Environment and Evolution, University College London.

Oct. 2001 – Sept 2009 Senior Lecturer, Department of Biology University College London.

Oct. 1996 – Sept 2001 Lecturer, Department of Biology, University College London.

Oct 1993 - Sept 1996 Wellcome Foundation funded post-doctoral research associate in ancient DNA, Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge.

Nov 1990 - Sept 1993 Cancer Research Campaign funded post-doctoral research fellow, The Molecular Medicine Unit, Kings College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London. Education/Qualifications 1982-1986 University of Birmingham, Upper second class B.Sc. (Hons.) in Biological Sciences (Genetics).

1986-1990 University of Liverpool, Department of Genetics and Microbiology, Ph.D. Thesis (September 1990) ‘Isolation and Characterisation of Copper-inducible Genes from the Flowering plant Mimulus guttatus’.

Other positions and fellowships

• Editor-in-chief, Annals of Human Genetics (Jan 2015 - June 2019 and Oct 2020 - Jan 2021).

• Adjungerad Professor, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, 2010 to 2013.

• Visiting Senior Lecturer – Division of Cell & Molecular Biology, Imperial College London.

• Honorary lecturer – Department of Anthropology, UCL.

• Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute for Advanced Study), 2007 – 2008