CEM Seminar - Jeff Jensen

Center for Evolution and Medicine Fall 2015: Jeff Jensen—Population Genetics

Jeff Jensen 
Professor, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
The population genetics of adaptation
Understanding the distributions of selective effects of newly arising, segregating, and fixed mutations – central to population genetics over the last century – stands as a major focus of the present and future Jensen Lab. This underlying question has inspired approaches integrating toolsets from computer science, mathematics and statistics with evolutionary biology, medical and ecological genetics, experimental evolution, and population genomics. I will here highlight aspects of our current and future work studying adaptively important mutations as they arise, transit throughthe population, and ultimately achieve fixation – and discuss our primary applications studying resistance evolution in influenza virus and the demographic infection dynamics of human cytomegalovirus. While our research program is topically diverse, the dominant and central underlying theme is the study of adaptation, and the strongly coupled development of theoretical and statistical tools with novel data analysis. With these tools at our disposal, I will make the case that population genetics is on the verge of important breakthroughs in both our general understanding of the process of adaptation, but also in the ability of evolutionary analyses to provide important clinically relevant insights to other research communities as well.
Jensen is a population geneticist, broadly interested in the study of adaptation in natural populations. He received a BS / BA from the University of Arizona in 2002 in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Biological Anthropology, respectively, and was co-advised by Michael Nachman (University of Arizona) and Brian Charlesworth (University of Edinburgh). Jensen earned his PhD in Molecular Biology & Genetics at Cornell University in 2006, co-advised by Charles Aquadro (Cornell) and Carlos Bustamante (Stanford). He did his postdoc work as an NSF Biological Informatics Fellow at UCSD and UC Berkeley advised by Doris Bachtrog (Berkeley), Peter Andolfatto (Princeton), and Rasmus Nielsen (Berkeley). He founded the Jensen Lab at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the Program for Bioinformatics & Integrative Biology in 2009, and re-located the lab to EPFL in the Fall of 2011.