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Anthropology Unit

Anthropology Unit | University of Geneva

Estella Poloni

Chargée de cours/biologiste


My research main themes focus on the origin and evolution of genetic and genomic diversity in human populations, the structure of this diversity among them, and its links to the history of migrations and cultural differentiations (such as the history of languages). Since many years now, I have been investigating the diversity of human populations in sex-linked polymorphisms (mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome) because of their potential to reveal distinct population histories of men and women, due for instance to differentiated degrees of genetic exchanges between populations. As such, I have developed a special interest in the diversity of populations at the crossroads between continents, particularly so in the regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, namely East and North Africa, West Asia and Southern Europe. I am also fascinated by the extreme cultural diversity of humans, which testifies to the ability of our ancestors to innovate and colonize all biotopes, and which has probably also left imprints in the current human genome, as attested by the phenotypic variability of our species. For this reason, my research focuses nowadays on the evolution of human variability in genomic regions likely targeted by selective pressures linked to the natural and cultural environments of populations, such as polymorphisms in ADME genes (among which NAT and CYP drug-metabolizing genes). I also investigate the variability of these genomic regions in our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, to understand the potential functional role of such polymorphisms.

I teach at the University of Geneva Biology section (bachelor, master, PhD levels): evolution (fundamentals of molecular evolution), biostatiscs (probability and statistics for the biologist), methodology in research (seminar), molecular population genetics (1-week training class), genetic diversity and linguistic history of Africa (master course in prehistory and pre-colonial history of Africa), genomic and cultural evolution in humans (master course in genetics, development and evolution).

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FNS Research Projects

Human genomic population structure and phenotype-genotype variation in ADME genes along a latitudinal transect from Africa to Europe

Estella Poloni
Estella Poloni
University of Geneva
Dpt. of Genetic & Evolution
Anthropology Unit
Quai Ernest-Ansermet 30
1205 Genève
Ph +41 22 379 69 67
Fax +41 22 379 31 94