Professor Peter VisscherProfessor Peter Visscher
Institute for Molecular Bioscience
The University of Queensland

Abstract: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been spectacularly successful in finding robust replicable associations between DNA variants and 'complex traits' such as quantitative traits and common disease. Data on trait-SNP associations can be leveraged to address questions of human adaptation and selection on trait-associated loci. We have used datasets from GWAS to address questions of directional selection on loci associated with complex traits in Europe, on a global scale and in isolated populations. Our results suggest that natural selection has acted pervasively on loci associated with human complex traits, and that adaptation to extreme environments is driven by polygenic adaptation on standing variation in the ancestral population.

Bio: Professor Visscher's undergraduate and postgraduate training were in the Netherlands and UK (Edinburgh), respectively. In 1995 he moved to a faculty position at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology of the University of Edinburgh, developing gene mapping methods and software tools, with practical applications in livestock and human populations. Visscher joined the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in 2005 and in 2011 moved to the University of Queensland where he is Professor of Quantitative Genetics and Director of the Program in Complex Trait Genomics at the IMB. Visscher is a Senior Principal Research Fellow of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2010. His research interests are focussed on a better understanding of genetic variation for complex traits, including quantitative traits and disease, and on systems genomics.


Queensland Bioscience Precinct
Building 80
The University of Queensland, St Lucia