Elinor Karlsson, PhD, (she/her) is associate professor in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and director of Vertebrate Genomics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Her research combines new technology, citizen science and the power of evolution to investigate how DNA works. Dr. Karlsson has a special interest in dog genetics, and her international Darwin’s Ark project (DarwinsArk.org) invites all dog owners to enroll their dogs in an open data research project exploring the genetic basis of dog behavior, as well as diseases such as compulsive disorders, food allergies and cancer.
Dr. Karlsson’s research also includes Zoonomia (zoonomiaproject.org), an international effort to compare the genomes of over 240 mammals, from the African Yellow-spotted Rock Hyrax to the Woodland Dormouse, to identify critically important segments of DNA. In collaboration with Zoo New England, she is developing tools that uses genomics to tackle heritable diseases, like heart disease, common in some zoo populations (a project dubbed “Zoonomics”). Elinor received her B.A. in biochemistry/cell biology and her B.F.A. (Bachelor of Fine Arts) from Rice University, and earned her PhD. in bioinformatics from Boston University. She was a postdoctoral fellow with Pardis Sabeti at Harvard University before starting her research group at the University of Massachusetts.