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The Norman lab researches immunogenetics, which is the study of polymorphic molecules that have critical roles during infection control, reproduction, cancer, and immune-mediated disease. We study the genetic and functional immune diversity of indigenous groups worldwide, including African hunter-gatherers, Australians and Pacific Islanders. We also study ancient humans, and perform comparative evolutionary analyses of multiple other species. The Lab focuses on the co-evolution of the HLA molecules that are expressed by healthy cells, and the KIR, which are Natural Killer (NK) cell receptors that interact with HLA to control immune cell activity. HLA molecules can signal a cell’s health status, such as whether it is infected or not, to cells of the immune system. Through population genetics and molecular analyses that inform functional experiments, the aim is to determine precisely how genetic variation can influence immunity. We use high-throughput sequencing to target the HLA and KIR genomic regions. Characterized by extreme sequence and structural diversity, these are the most complex, and amongst the most medically important, regions of the human genome. In addition to basic science, this work demonstrates strong commitment towards encompassing all human diversity in research, and can be translated directly to personalized treatment.

Please visit our lab GitHub page here: