Katherine Pollard, PhD
Director and Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institute of Data Science and Biotechnology

Other Professional Titles

Professor, University of California, San Francisco, Epidemiology & Biostatistics


(415) 734-2711


(415) 355-0960


Audrey Le
(415) 734-2768

On The Web

Areas of Investigation

The Pollard lab is focused on developing novel methods to study genome evolution, organization, and regulation. They are interested in how genomes and their encoded functions change over time scales from developmental transitions in human cells to evolution across the tree of life, and seek to decode biomedical knowledge that is missed without rigorous statistical approaches. The models and tools they create are unified by a phylogenetic perspective, statistical rigor, and massive integration of public data. Collaboration, creating open source software, and promoting open science are major priorities. Many of the Pollard lab bioinformatics projects involve machine learning, stochastic process models of genome evolution, longitudinal models, and multivariate statistics.

Lab Focus

Can we identify more HARs using archaic hominin genomes (e.g., Neanderthal) and many human genomes?
When do mutations in HARs and other regulatory sequences have a functional impact?
Is the functional profile of a metagenomic community more informative about host health status than the taxonomic profile?


Discovered HARs by comparing the human genome to the genomes of chimpanzee and other mammals.
Characterized the role of biased gene conversion, a non-adaptive recombination associated process, in shaping the fastest evolving regions of the human genome.
Solved the problem of clustering short metegnomic sequencing reads into taxonomic groups by leveraging sequenced genomes and phylogenetic triangulation.


  • American Society of Human Genetics
  • American Statistical Association
  • International Society for Computational Biology

Professional titles

Professor, University of California, San Francisco, Epidemiology & Biostatistics


  • Pomona College
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • "University of California, Berkeley"

Honors and Awards

2013 California Academy of Sciences (Fellow)
2013 Alumna of the Year, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley
2013 Best Scientific Visualizations of 2013, Wired Magazine
2008 Sloan Research Fellowship, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
2007 Faculty Development Award, University of California, Davis
2003 Evelyn Fix Memorial Prize, Chin Long Chiang Biostatistics Student of the Year, University of California, Berkeley
1998 Berkeley Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley
1996 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, Watson Foundation
1995 Valedictorian, High Scholarship Prize (4.0 GPA), Math Prize, Anthropology Prize, Phi Beta Kappa Award, Pomona College
1993 Sophomore Math Prize, Pomona College