Welcome to the Noonan Lab!

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Exploring the genetic origins of human biological uniqueness

What makes us human? Our capacities for invention, language and abstract thought set us apart from all other living things. With the sequencing of the human genome and the genomes of our closest primate relatives, locating the origins of such uniquely human characteristics has become a tractable genetic problem.

Many human traits are based on anatomical changes, including increased brain size and changes in the morphology of the limbs, that evolved due to genetic changes in development. Our laboratory uses a combination of computational and in vivo experimental approaches to study human-specific changes in developmental gene regulation.  We are pursuing an integrated strategy that synthesizes maps of human-specific accelerated evolution in noncoding DNAs, in vivo analysis of cis-regulatory elements, and functional genomic atlases of human development to reveal the genetic basis of unique human biology.


Postdoctoral position available 

We are recruiting a Postdoctoral Associate to identify and experimentally characterize human-specific changes in developmental gene regulation by integrated analysis of RNA-seq, ChIP-seq and other functional genomics datasets. This project will build on our previous efforts using both comparative genomics to identify human-specific enhancer functions (e.g., Science 321: 1346 (2008)), and comparative epigenomics to directly study regulatory functions in homologous embryonic tissues (e.g., Cell 154:185 (2013)). Candidates must have a Ph.D. in Genetics or a related field, as well as significant experimental expertise in functional genomics. Candidates with experience in implementing massively parallel enhancer assays will be highly competitive for this position. Interested candidates should send their CV and references to Jim Noonan at noonanlab@gmail.com. Please include the phrase Postdoctoral position in the Noonan lab in the subject line.