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! 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

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
Ecological and evolutionary adaptations shape the gut microbiome of BaAka African rainforest hunter-gatherers. A. Gomez, K. Petrzelkova, C. J. Yeoman, M. B. Burns, K. R. Amato, K. Vlckova, D. Modry, A. Todd, C. A. Jost Robbinson, M. Remis, M. Torralba, K. E. Nelson, F. Carbonero, H. R. Gaskins, B. A. Wilson, R. M. Stumpf, B. A. White, S. R. Leigh, and R. Blekhman.
bioRxiv, 2015
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


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

  • The microbiome of colorectal tumors.
    Our June 2015 paper was covered by several media outlets, including:
    - New colon cancer culprit found in gut microbiome. Science Daily
    - Microbiome Study of Colorectal Cancer Uncovers Signature of Virulence Genes. Genome Web
    - U research furthers options for colorectal treatment and prevention. Minnesota Daily
    - Linking the microbiome and colorectal cancer: an author Q+A. BioMed Central, On Medicine
  • 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