David Balding

Computational statistics applied to population, evolutionary, medical and forensic genetics

I work in many different areas of computational statistical inference focussing on applications population, evolutionary, medical and forensic genetics. Some of the main themes of my research are:
  • mathematical modelling of
    • ancestry,
    • relatedness,
    • demographic history of populations,
    • evolutionary processes such as mechanisms of selection;
  • identifying sources of biological material (identification of individual and of tissue);
  • measures of relatedness among two or more individuals and the role of relatedness in genomics analyses, including heritability analyses;
  • predicting phenotypes from genotype and other data;
  • association analysis, particularly in the presence of complex relatedness/population structure;
  • analysis of other omics data (transcriptome, methylome, etc) in conjunction with genomics data.

Much of the above is informed by the coalescent-with-recombination model of population genetics. Performing statistical inference for large datasets under this model remains one of the major open problems in statistical genomics. Other statistical tools include mixed model (or penalised/shrinkage) regression for large numbers of predictors (p >> n) and various multivariate statistics techniques.

I work with collaborators in many different fields: forensic science, crop research, ancient DNA, pharmaceutical companies and diseases of humans, animals and plants. Much of this work involves stochastic modelling based on data generated by the collaborative partner or from public databases.



Sean Byars
(Co-supervised with Stephen Harrap)


Ali Mahmoudi (PhD, 2017-) Main supervisor
Michael Silk (PhD, 2017-) Co-supervisor, with Slavé Petrovski
Lachlan Macintosh (PhD, 2017-) Co-supervisor, with Tony Pappenfuss
Yupei You (MSc Bioinformatics) Main supervisor


Tatiana Hessab (PhD student, Federal University of Rio De Janeiro, Jul 17 - Feb 18)

Past Students

Shian Su (MSc Maths & Stats, 2016)

Former Visitors

Maria Simonsen (Aarhus University, Denmark, 2016)
Tristan Mary-Huard (AgroParisTech, France, 2016)
Søren Vilsen (Aalborg University, Denmark, 2016)