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 in population, evolutionary, medical and forensic genetics. Some of the main themes of my research are:
  • mathematical modelling of
    • ancestry and relatedness,
    • demographic history of populations,
    • evolutionary processes such as mechanisms of selection;
  • statistical methods for identifying sources of biological material in forensic science (identification of individual or tissue);
  • measures of relatedness among two or more individuals and the role of relatedness in genomics analyses, including association studies;
  • heritability and the genomic architecture of complex traits;
  • predicting phenotypes from genotype and other data;
  • 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 have worked 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.



John Holmes


Anubhav Kaphle (PhD, 2018-) Main supervisor
Chengyu Li (PhD, 2017-) Main Supervisor 
Ali Mahmoudi (PhD, 2017-) Main supervisor
Jeff Paril (PhD, 2017-) Co-supervisor with Alex Fournier-Level 
Michael Silk (PhD, 2017-) Co-supervisor, with Slavé Petrovski and David Ascher
Lachlan Macintosh (PhD, 2017-) Co-supervisor, with Tony Pappenfuss


Hanaisa Sant Anna (PhD student, Brazil, Aug 2018 - Aug 2019)
Garrett Hellenthal (UCL, April - May 2019)
Pak Sham (Hong Kong, Dyason Fellow hosted by me and Damjan Vukcevic, dates TBC in 2019)

Past Staff & Students

Sean Byars
Shian Su (MSc Maths & Stats, 2016)
Yupei You (MSc Bioinformatics 2018) Main supervisor

Former Visitors

Jukka Corander (Oslo and Helsinki, Dec 2017 - Jan 2018)
Tatiana Hessab (PhD student, Federal University of Rio De Janeiro, Jul 17 - Feb 18)
Maria Simonsen (Aarhus University, Denmark, 2016)
Tristan Mary-Huard (AgroParisTech, France, 2016)
Søren Vilsen (Aalborg University, Denmark, 2016)