At the Interface of Human Genomics and Microbiome Research

Based at The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, we are part of the Departments of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development, and Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior

Our Lab

We study human genomic factors that control and interact with the microbiome. We utilize high-throughput genomics technologies and employ computational, statistical, network-theory, data mining, and population genetic analytical approaches, with the goal of understanding how we interact with our microbial communities, how host-microbe interactions affect human disease, and how the symbiosis between us and our microbiome evolved.

  Selected Recent Publications

Genetic Ancestry and Natural Selection Drive Population Differences in Immune Responses to Pathogens
Y. Nédélec, J. Sanz, G. Baharian, Z. A. Szpiech, A. Pacis, A. Dumaine, J.C. Grenier, A. Freiman, A. J. Sams, S. Hebert, A. P. Sabourin, F. Luca, R. Blekhman, R. D. Hernandez, R. Pique-Regi, J. Tung, V. Yotova, and L. B. Barreiro.
Cell, 2016
Gut microbiome of coexisting BaAka pygmies and Bantu reflects gradients of traditional subsistence patterns
A. Gomez, K. Petrzelkova, M. B. Burns, C. J. Yeoman, K. R. Amato, K. Vlckova, D. Modry, A. Todd, C. A. Jost Robinson, M. Remis, M. Torralba, E. Morton, J. D. Umana, F. Carbonero, H. R. Gaskins, K. E. Nelson, B. A. Wilson, R. M. Stumpf, B. A. White, S. R. Leigh, and R. Blekhman.
Cell Reports, 2016
Host genetic variation impacts microbiome composition across human body sites.
R. Blekhman, J. K. Goodrich, K. Huang, Q. Sun, R. Bukowski, J. T. Bell, T. D. Spector, A. Keinan, R. E. Ley, D. Gevers, and A. G. Clark.
Genome Biology, 2015
Variation in rural African gut microbiota is strongly correlated with colonization by Entamoeba and subsistence.
E. R. Morton, J. Lynch, A. Froment, S. Lafosse , E. Heyer , M. Przeworski, R. Blekhman, and L. Segurel.
PLOS Genetics, 2015
Virulence genes are a signature of the microbiome in the colorectal tumor microenvironment.
M. B. Burns, J. Lynch, T. K. Starr, D. Knights, and R. Blekhman.
Genome Medicine, 2015


Social networks predict gut microbiome composition in wild baboons.
J. Tung, L. B. Barreiro, M. B. Burns, J.-C. Grenier, J. Lynch, L. E. Grieneisen, J. Altmann, S. C. Alberts, R. Blekhman, and E. A. Archie.
eLife, 2015


Human genetics shape the gut microbiome.
J. K. Goodrich, J. L. Waters, A. C. Poole, J. L. Sutter, O. Koren, R. Blekhman, M. Beaumont, W. Van Treuren, R. Knight, J. T. Bell, T. Spector, A. G. Clark, and R. E. Ley.
Cell, 2014

  Lab News

  • Tim receives a UROP award for his undergraduate research project. Congrats Tim! 11/2014
  • Josh wins second-best poster in the BICB symposium. Congrats Josh! 08/2014
  • Andres Gomez joins the lab as a Postdoctoral Associate. Welcome Andres! 06/2014
  • Ran will give a talk at the 2014 ASM meeting on May 20 at 3:00 PM, as part of the symposium on Host Genetic Control of the Microbiome, in room 160A at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center 05/2014
  • Michael will present his research at the Biology of Genomes Meeting at Cold Spring Harbor in the poster session on Wednesday May 7, 2014 05/2014
  • Ran will give a talk at the AAPA Meeting on April 12, 2014 at 11:15 AM, as part of the Beyond The Genome Symposium, at the Hyatt Imperial Ballroom, TELUS Convention Center, Calgary, Canada 04/2014
  • Elise Morton joins the lab as a Postdoctoral Associate. Welcome Elise! 02/2014
  • Josh Lynch joins the lab as a BICB graduate student. Welcome Josh! 01/2014
  • Karen Tang joins the lab as a data analyst. Welcome Karen! 01/2014
  • Ran will give a talk at the ASHG Meeting on October 24, 2013 at 2:00 PM, at the Grand Ballroom East, Level 3 of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center 10/2013
  • Ran will give a talk at the NTD Conference in Austin on October 9, 2013 09/2013
  • Ran will give a talk at the GCD Seminar Series on September 19, 2013 09/2013
  • Michael Burns joins the lab as an HHMI Postdoctoral Associate. Welcome Michael! 08/2013
  • Ran will give a talk at the MPGI Fall Symposium at the University of Minnesota on August 29, 2013 08/2013
  • The Blekhman Lab opened its gates on August 1st, 2013 in the Cargill Building on the St. Paul campus! 08/2013
  • Ran will give a talk at the SMBE Meeting in Chicago on July 10, 2013 06/2013
  • Ran will give a talk at the Biology of Genomes meeting at Cold Spring Harbor on May 8, 2013 05/2013

A Critical Mass for Computational Biology

A unique new space in the Molecular and Cellular Biology building is designed to break down barriers to collaboration.

Read the story about our lab space

  Our Work in the Media

  • Giving Up Hunting & Gathering Changed Our Microbiome
    Newsweek, 2016
  • Is Gut Science Biased?
    FiveThirtyEight, 2016
  • Microbes Meet Cancer
    The Scientist, 2016
  • Everything You Need to Know About Poop

    New York Magazine, 2016

  • The Microbiomes of Indigenous Peoples Are Different--Does It Matter?

    Scientific American Blog, 2016

  • Genetics, Immunity, and the Microbiome

    The Scientist, 2015

  • Who Is The Master Of Your Microbial Domain?

    Popular Science, 2015

  • Surprises Emerge As More Hunter-Gatherer Microbiomes Come In

    National Geographic Blog, 2015