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Oliver Venn

Postdoctoral researcher

Research summary

My research covers areas of evolutionary biology, population genetics and cancer genomics. My broad interests are in studying mutation and recombination processes using bioinformatic and statistical genetic approaches. I am particularly interested in the evolution of recombination and mutation between and within populations.

In my postdoc work I have been interested in characterising spontaneous mutation rates in Western chimpanzees compared to humans both to facilitate accurate measurements for evolutionary genetic inference and to assess the impact of different mating behaviours on mutation within populations.

I completed my DPhil in Genomic Medicine and Statistics at the University of Oxford as a Wellcome Trust PhD scholar. My thesis work focused on inferring the fine-scale structure and evolution of recombination rates from whole genome population sequencing. Before that I studied undergraduate degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 


Choi K, Zhao X, Kelly KA, Venn O, Higgins JD, Yelina NE, Hardcastle TJ, Ziolkowski PA, Copenhaver GP, Franklin FC, McVean G, Henderson IR. Arabidopsis meiotic crossover hot spots overlap with H2A.Z nucleosomes at gene promoters. Nat Genet. 2013 Nov;45(11):1327-36. doi: 10.1038/ng.2766. Epub 2013 Sep 22.

Leffler EM*, Gao Z*, Pfeifer S*, Segurel L, Auton A, Venn O, Bowden R, Bontrop R, Wall JD, Sella G, Donnelly P, McVean G, Przeworski M. Multiple instances of ancient balancing selection shared between humans and chimpanzees. Science. 2013 Mar 29;339(6127):1578-82. doi: 10.1126/science.1234070.

Auton A*, Fledel-Alon A*, Pfeifer S*, Venn O*, Segurel L, Street T, Leffler EM, Bowden R, Aneas I, Broxholme J, Humburg P, Iqbal Z, Lunter G, Maller J, Hernandez RD, Melton C, Venkat A, Nobrega MA, Bontrop R, Myers S, Donnelly P, Przeworski M, McVean G. A fine-scale chimpanzee genetic map from population sequencing. Science. 2012 Apr 13;336(6078):193-8. doi: 10.1126/science.1216872.

* Joint first authorship