Dr. Alex K. Lancaster works in the emerging discipline of evolutionary systems biology: involving a combination of empirical genomics and bioinformatics, collaborations with wet-lab experimentalists as well as mathematical modeling and simulation.
His research investigates the interplay of evolvability and robustness: how organisms can simultaneously generate phenotypic novelty, yet be buffered against the forces of genetic and environmental change. One major focus is understanding the cellular networks underpinning the genotype-phenotype map, and particularly the role of population-level variation in networks. A second focus is applying these insights to help identify the mechanistic underpinnings of human diseases, including cancer and autism.
Dr. Lancaster received his Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley in 2007 where worked on the evolution of the major histocompatibility complex, a key part of the human adaptive immune system. He followed this with postdoctoral work at both the University of Arizona, and the Whitehead Institute at MIT, where he worked on the evolvability properties of the yeast prion [PSI+], as well as the evolution of yeast transcriptional networks. He has also held research and faculty positions at the Santa Fe Institute, and Harvard Medical School and is currently a Research Scholar at the Ronin Institute. He has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of computational biology, including pioneering work in developing tools for agent-based modeling, population genomics, as well for next-generation sequencing analysis and clinical genomics.