Dr Lucy van Dorp

I am currently a Senior Research Fellow based at UCL Genetics institute (UGI) at University College London.


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.


I additionally act as the Early Career Representative for the Microbiology @ UCL Domain which aims to promote the field by bringing together those interested in the study of microorganisms.


Key Interests

  • Microbial (pathogen) population genetics and phylogenetics
  • Haplotype-based methods to infer species demography eg. CHROMOPAINTER and fineSTRUCTURE and to identify, characterise and date admixture eg. GLOBETROTTER
  • Ancient DNA (aDNA) as a tool for exploring pathogen 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