As a Branco Weiss Fellow, Dr. Carl Veller will investigate the health consequences of genetic variation at human centromeres. Centromeres are the genomic sites where the chromosome segregation machinery attaches during cell division, and are some of the least explored regions of the human genome. Dr. Veller’s primary focus will be the effect of centromeric variation on infertility and cancer, health issues for which chromosome mis-segregation is a frequent cause.
- Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 2019-2020
- PhD, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 2019
- PhD candidate, Department of Economics, Harvard University, 2012-2014
- Undergraduate studies, Applied Mathematics and Economics, University of Cape Town, 2008-2011
- James F. Crow Early Career Researcher Award, Genetics Society of America, 2020
- National Geographic: Bamboo Mathematicians
Branco Weiss Fellow Since
Evolutionary and population genetics
University of California, Davis, USA
Centromeres are the sites on eukaryotic chromosomes where the segregation machinery attaches during cell division. Given this fundamental role in chromosome segregation, variation at human centromeres has been predicted to influence health outcomes for which chromosome mis-segregation is a frequent cause, such as infertility and cancer. However, human centromeres remain poorly characterized from a population genomic perspective, owing to their repetitive sequence content. This has prevented us from harnessing large population genomic databases to understand centromeres’ health effects.
Dr. Carl Veller will use novel methods to identify centromere variants in large population genomic databases that contain clinical health data. Based on this identification, he will use modern population genomic methods to discover the health effects of centromeric variation. Then, using long-read sequence assemblies of human centromeres, Dr. Veller will investigate the structural and molecular basis of centromeres’ effects on human health. In addition, using pedigrees within population genomic databases, he will test whether contravention of Mendel’s first law at centromeres underlies their effects on human fertility.