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Anthropology Unit

Anthropology Unit | University of Geneva

Estella Poloni

Chargée de cours/biologiste


My main research interests lie in the origin and evolution of genetic and genomic diversity in human populations, and its links to the history of migrations and cultural differentiations, such as the diversification of languages or the adoption of new subsistence strategies. Humans are indeed characterized by an extreme cultural diversity, which testifies to the ability of our ancestors to innovate and colonize all biotopes. This complex history has probably left imprints in the current genome of our species, as attested by its extensive phenotypic variability. In the group, we investigate such recent evolutionary imprints in ADME genes that are of particular interest for clinicians because of their involvement in the Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Excretion of drugs. These genes are potential targets of natural or cultural selection due to their function taking place at the interface between the organism and its chemical and dietary environment. Our main approaches involve the comparison, in large population samples, of diversity patterns analyzed at the genomic level and in specific genetic systems, such as the CYP2D6 polymorphism, examined with PacBio technology, or GWAS and genomic scan approaches to investigate population variability in pharmacogenomics traits. To understand the potential functional role of human polymorphisms in genomic regions involved in drug responses, we also investigate their variability in our closest relatives, the chimpanzees.

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