Simon Gravel

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Simon Gravel

Assistant Professor, Department of Human Genetics

Email: simon.gravel@mcgill.ca
Phone: (514) 398-0753

740 Dr Penfield Ave, Room 7206
Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3A 0G1


Simon Gravel obtained his BSc and MSc in Mathematics and Physics from the Université de Montréal and his PhD in Physics from Cornell University in 2009. His research in Genetics began during a short postdoc in the Physics department at the Universität zu Köln and the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, and continued in the Genetics department at Stanford University. He joined the Department of Human Genetics at McGill and the Genome Quebec Innovation Centre in 2013.

Dr Gravel’s is interested in learning about biology and evolution through creative analysis of high-throughput biological data. His group develops mathematical and statistical methods that take advantage of diverse data sources to refine our understanding of fundamental parameters of human history and biology. His recent research has focused on how the history of diverse human populations affected patterns of genetic diversity and disease. His group made contributions about the origins of modern humans, the successive waves of migrations that led to the formations of contemporary populations in the Americas, as well as the identification of genetic predispositions for disease.

This research is largely data-driven, and it combines modeling at multiple levels: we first wish to understand the fundamental biology underpinning evolution, such as the processes of mutation, recombination, and selection. To understand human genomes, we also need to understand how recent and ancient human history affected patterns of genetic diversity: ancient population expansions, recent migrations, and marriage patterns all impact genomic diversity, and in many cases we can reconstruct these events through careful modelling. Finally, we need to understand the behavior of cutting edge technology involved in the latest datasets. Dr Gravel’s group has projects focusing on anthropology and history, technology development, biology, and medicine, and is always happy to explore new opportunities involving new technologies and creative mathematical modeling.

Recent Publications

  • Ben-Eghan, C, Sun, R, Hleap, JS, Diaz-Papkovich, A, Munter, HM, Grant, AV et al.. Don't ignore genetic data from minority populations. Nature. 2020;585 (7824):184-186. doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-02547-3. PubMed PMID:32901124 .
  • Adrion, JR, Cole, CB, Dukler, N, Galloway, JG, Gladstein, AL, Gower, G et al.. A community-maintained standard library of population genetic models. Elife. 2020;9 :. doi: 10.7554/eLife.54967. PubMed PMID:32573438 PubMed Central PMC7438115.
  • Nelson, D, Kelleher, J, Ragsdale, AP, Moreau, C, McVean, G, Gravel, S et al.. Accounting for long-range correlations in genome-wide simulations of large cohorts. PLoS Genet. 2020;16 (5):e1008619. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008619. PubMed PMID:32369493 PubMed Central PMC7266353.
  • Ragsdale, AP, Gravel, S. Unbiased Estimation of Linkage Disequilibrium from Unphased Data. Mol. Biol. Evol. 2020;37 (3):923-932. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msz265. PubMed PMID:31697386 PubMed Central PMC7038669.
  • Diaz-Papkovich, A, Anderson-Trocmé, L, Ben-Eghan, C, Gravel, S. UMAP reveals cryptic population structure and phenotype heterogeneity in large genomic cohorts. PLoS Genet. 2019;15 (11):e1008432. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008432. PubMed PMID:31675358 PubMed Central PMC6853336.
  • Anderson-Trocmé, L, Farouni, R, Bourgey, M, Kamatani, Y, Higasa, K, Seo, JS et al.. Legacy Data Confound Genomics Studies. Mol. Biol. Evol. 2020;37 (1):2-10. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msz201. PubMed PMID:31504792 .
  • Ragsdale, AP, Gravel, S. Models of archaic admixture and recent history from two-locus statistics. PLoS Genet. 2019;15 (6):e1008204. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008204. PubMed PMID:31181058 PubMed Central PMC6586359.
  • Bell, S, Rousseau, J, Peng, H, Aouabed, Z, Priam, P, Theroux, JF et al.. Mutations in ACTL6B Cause Neurodevelopmental Deficits and Epilepsy and Lead to Loss of Dendrites in Human Neurons. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 2019;104 (5):815-834. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.03.022. PubMed PMID:31031012 PubMed Central PMC6507050.
  • Zorina-Lichtenwalter, K, Lichtenwalter, RN, Zaykin, DV, Parisien, M, Gravel, S, Bortsov, A et al.. A study in scarlet: MC1R as the main predictor of red hair and exemplar of the flip-flop effect. Hum. Mol. Genet. 2019;28 (12):2093-2106. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddz018. PubMed PMID:30657907 PubMed Central PMC6548228.
  • Nelson, D, Moreau, C, de Vriendt, M, Zeng, Y, Preuss, C, Vézina, H et al.. Inferring Transmission Histories of Rare Alleles in Population-Scale Genealogies. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 2018;103 (6):893-906. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2018.10.017. PubMed PMID:30526866 PubMed Central PMC6288464.
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