Welcome to the Messer lab in the Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology at Cornell University. We are interested in a broad range of topics in evolutionary biology and population genetics. A particular focus of the lab lies in studying cases of rapid adaptation that allow us to observe evolution in real-time and sometimes even repeatedly. Examples of such rapid adaptations include the evolution of drug resistance in pathogens, the emergence of pesticide resistance in insects, the domestication of dogs, and cases of adaptive introgression from Neanderthals into modern human populations. Research projects employ a wide spectrum of computational and analytical approaches in concert with the analysis of large-scale population genomic data.
Currently the lab is also establishing an experimental program to conduct evolution experiments in laboratory populations of insects, using CRISPR-Cas9 gene drives. This technology opens the door for a fascinating new era of “active” evolutionary genetics, by allowing us to rapidly drive genetically-engineered alleles to fixation in a population. The potential applications of such gene drives are broad and ambitious, including the eradication of disease vectors, the control of pest species, and the preservation of endangered species from extinction.
Philipp W. Messer
Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology
102J Weill Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853