Understanding the genetic bases of our uniqueness as humans or the distinctiveness of human populations is a permanent open question in biology that may be addressed through the detection of specific adaptations. This goal is now possible through the analysis of full genome sequencing data and by detecting and interpreting the footprints that adaptive (positive) natural selection has left in our genomes. However, in order to effectively reveal the specific adaptations that happened in our common ancestors and that characterize different human populations, the field needs more powerful statistical methods as well as novel experimental molecular approaches and a variety of interdisciplinary methodologies. Understanding our adaptation requires uncovering not only hard selective sweeps but also polygenic adaptation and soft sweeps. The final goal should be the interpretation of adaptive phenotypes, with experimental approaches that can demonstrate the functional impact of the adaptive variants.
These will be the main topics of discussion during this event, jointly organized by B·Debate, an initiative of Biocat and "la Caixa" Foundation, with Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE), a joint CSIC-Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) research institute. International researchers from the areas of evolutionary biology, genetics, computation, biology and genomics but also from the fields of immunology, molecular and cell biology and medicine, will generate a interdisciplinary forum for debate and provide guidelines on how to handle and interpret the forthcoming huge amount of genomic information to reconstruct human evolution and understand the specificities of our species and of the diverse populations.
Scientific leaders of this debate are Jaume Bertranpetit and Elena Bosch from the Pompeu Fabra University.