Courtney Babbitt

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Massachusetts, Amherst, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9394

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

Babbitt, Dr. Courtney C., U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid research on 'Genomic Adaptation and the Evolution of Human Neural Phenotypes'

COURTNEY C. BABBITT, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, received funding in April 2017 to aid research on ‘Genomic Adaptation and the Evolution of Human Neural Phenotypes.’ Adaptation in the regulatory regions of gene may have driven many of the changes in gene expression, but that may have also had other attendant consequences related to neural differences between humans and non-human primates, on a fairly short evolutionary timescale. Results suggest that there is a correlation between positive selection in regulatory regions and differential gene expression across tissues, and is highest in genes expressed in the brain. These data present a window into how positive selection has worked to change gene expression between humans and chimpanzees. This research has helped to identify key gene regulatory changes in the evolution of the human genome as they relate to neural traits. Additionally, it has informed about what neural processes have been driven by natural selection, by using an experimental framework. More broadly, this study links adaptive processes in the genome with functional changes in gene expression. This will enhance our understanding of where positive selection can shape adaptive phenotypic change, and the specific types of neural traits that are molded by selection in regulatory regions.