Welcome to the Blekhman Lab

Evolutionary, Population, and Medical Genomics

Located 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

The Blekhman lab's broad focus is on Population, Evolutionary, and Medical Genomics in humans and other primates. A major focus of our research is on the trillions of bacteria that colonize each of us. The lab generates genomic data, and employs computational, statistical, network-theory, data mining, and population genetic approaches, with the goal of understanding how we interact with our microbial communities, how host-bacteria interactions affect complex traits and disease, and how the symbiosis between us and our microbiome evolved throughout human history.

Visit our research and publications pages to learn more!

 We are looking for highly motivated researchers to join our group! Several positions are available for postdocs, graduate students, undergrads, and research scientists. Read More...


Dr. Ran Blekhman

Ran Blekhman is an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota. Before joining the UofM in 2013, Ran was a Postdoctoral Associate working with Andrew G. Clark at Cornell University. Ran holds a Ph.D. in Human Genetics from The University of Chicago, where he worked with Yoav Gilad.

  Recent Papers

Variation in rural African gut microbiomes is strongly shaped by parasitism and diet. E. R. Morton, J. Lynch, A. Froment, S. Lafosse , E. Heyer , M. Przeworski, R. Blekhman, and L. Segurel.
bioRxiv, 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 10.7554/eLife.05224


Population genomics analysis of 962 whole genomes of humans reveals natural selection in non-coding regions. F. Yu, J. Lu, X. Liu, E. Gazave, D. Chang, S. Raj, H. Hunter-Zinck, R. Blekhman, L. Arbiza, C. Van Hout, et. al.
PLOS One, 2015 Mar 25;10(3):e0121644
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.
bioRxiv, 2014


Host 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 Nov 6;159(4):789-99


Comparative metabolomics in primates reveals the effects of diet and gene regulatory variation on metabolic divergence . R. Blekhman, G. H. Perry, S. Shahbaz, A. G. Clark, O. Fiehn, and Y. Gilad.
Scientific Reports, 2014 Jul 28;4:5809

  Our Work in the Media

  • Surprises Emerge As More Hunter-Gatherer Microbiomes Come In.
    Coverage of Elise's recent paper on the rural African microbiome, by Ed Yong, National Geographic, March 2015
  • Human Genetics Shape the Gut Microbiome.
    Our October 2014 paper with Ruth Ley, Andy Clark, Tim Spector and others was covered by several media outlets, including:
    - Genetics may foster bugs that keep you thin. Science magazine
    - The Most Heritable Gut Bacterium is… Wait, What is That? National Geographic / Not Exactly Rocket Science
    - Gut Microbiome Heritability. The Scientist
    - Body weight heavily influenced by gut microbes: Genes shape body weight by affecting gut microbes. Science Daily
  • The Message in Microbiomes.
    University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences News, November 2013
  • People’s Genes Welcome Their Microbes.
    Science News, November 2013
  • It’s in the Genes.
    The Scientist, October 2013
  • Gene Variants in Immune System Pathways Correlated With Composition of Microbes of Human Body.
    Science Daily, October 2013
  • Genes May Influence Body's Bacteria.
    Science News, May 2012
  • Biology of Genomes Presentation Describes Hunt for Microbiome-Related Host Genes.
    GenomeWeb, May 2012
  • Why Humans are More Sensitive to Certain Viruses: Primate Immune System Differences Identified.
    Science Daily, December 2010
  • What Makes a Man a Man?
    Science Life, January 2010
  • Genetics: Sex and the Cortex
    Nature (Research Highlights), July 2008

  Lab News

  • Elise will speak at the UMN Microbiome Symposium on April 17, 2015 04/2015
  • Ran will speak at the Gordon Research Conference for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics on February 27, 2015 02/2015
  • Josh Lynch has been awarded a BICB fellowship for 2015. Congrats Josh! 11/2014
  • Tim Reinders has received a UROP award for his undergraduate research project. Congrats Tim! 11/2014
  • Josh Lynch 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