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McGill researcher wins Sloan Fellowship


Montreal, QC – Simon Gravel, an associate professor in McGill University’s Department of Human Genetics, has been awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship, in recognition of his potential to make substantial contributions to the field of human genetics. Gravel is breaking the research mould, and refining our understanding of modern human origins by learning from history, biology, and technology.

Using mathematical, computational, and statistical models to push forward understanding of diverse types of genomic data, Gravel is tackling biological questions otherwise unanswerable using conventional cell-biology methods.

“The complexity of human populations is a huge challenge for both evolutionary and medical genetics, and is particularly acute for minority and admixed populations,” he wrote in his statement to the fellowship committee. “I intend to keep pushing for better representation of minority populations in medical studies, both through the development of appropriate mathematical methods and the modeling of complex cohorts.”

Using these tools, he has provided the research community with the most precise estimates of the human mutation rate to date – among other successes.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation established the fellowship program in 1955, for early-career researchers in three categories: physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Additional research-areas were added in subsequent years, to include neuroscience, economics, computer science, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, and ocean sciences. Candidates must be nominated by their fellow scientists, and winning fellows are selected by an independent panel of senior scholars. The foundation currently awards 126 Sloan Research Fellowships each year, and fellows receive $50,000 to further their research. The foundation awards $5.9 million annually.

Gravel is actively involved in large-scale genomic research efforts including the 1000 Genomes Project and the NHGRI GO Exome Sequencing Project.

Here is the complete list of winners.

Reported by Meaghan Thurston, McGill University