NYCEP Alumnus Profile

Derek Wildman

Professor Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology The School of Molecular and Cellular Biology University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Ph.D. 2000, New York University


Overview of Research

Our laboratory uses molecular evolutionary and comparative genomic approaches to understand genetic change during human evolution. Current research in our laboratory has two directions. In the first direction we are elucidating the evolutionary history of birth and labor. This research, which is funded by the Perinatology Research Branch of the NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Development, is taking advantage of comparative genomic data to test evolutionary hypotheses in genes implicated in preterm birth in humans. We expect this comparative approach will inform the understanding of major obstetrical syndromes. Our long term goal is to describe accurately the evolution of parturition in mammals. In the second direction we are studying the evolution of mammals in general and primates in particular. Our approach is to infer well-supported phylogenetic trees in primates, and to use these trees as the foundation upon which we test hypotheses about positive Darwinian selection in human evolution. Technologies we use include DNA sequencing, microarrays, and quantitative PCR (QPCR). We are also developing high-throughput computational methods for evolutionary genomic analysis. These techniques have allowed us to understand patterns of natural selection in genes involved in aerobic energy metabolism, and we have also studied the pattern of gene expression in the brains of humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and Old World monkeys.


Epigenetic and immune function profiles associated with posttraumatic stress disorder. Uddin M, Aiello AE, Wildman DE, Koenen KC, Pawelec G, de Los Santos R, Goldmann E, Galea S. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 May 18;107(20):9470-5.

Inhibitory interneurons of the human prefrontal cortex display conserved evolution of the phenotype and related genes. Sherwood CC, Raghanti MA, Stimpson CD, Spocter MA, Uddin M, Boddy AM, Wildman DE, Bonar CJ, Lewandowski AH, Phillips KA, Erwin JM, Hof PR. Proc Biol Sci. 2010 Apr 7;277(1684):1011-20.

Phylogenomic analyses reveal convergent patterns of adaptive evolution in elephant and human ancestries. Goodman M, Sterner KN, Islam M, Uddin M, Sherwood CC, Hof PR, Hou ZC, Lipovich L, Jia H, Grossman LI, Wildman DE. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 8;106(49):20824-9.

Ancient origin of placental expression in the growth hormone genes of anthropoid primates. Papper Z, Jameson NM, Romero R, Weckle AL, Mittal P, Benirschke K, Santolaya-Forgas J, Uddin M, Haig D, Goodman M, Wildman DE. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Oct 6;106(40):17083-8.

A fully resolved genus level phylogeny of neotropical primates (Platyrrhini). Wildman DE, Jameson NM, Opazo JC, Yi SV. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2009 Dec;53(3):694-702.