skip to primary navigationskip to content

Phylogenetic network analysis of SARS-CoV2 genomes - Dr Peter Forster, Cambridge

"Detecting the early spread of SARS-Cov-2 in humans by phylogenetic network analysis" Peter Forster, Cambridge

LINK TO WEBINAR (August 2020)

Peter Forster studied chemistry at the Universities of Kiel and Hamburg in Germany. At the Heinrich-Pette-Institut for Virology and Immunology in Hamburg, he specialised in genetics and obtained his PhD degree in 1997 in biology on the topic of "Dispersal and differentiation of modern Homo sapiens analysed with mitochondrial DNA". After postdoctoral research at the Institute for Legal Medicine at the University of Münster, he was appointed a Fellow at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research in Cambridge University in 1999. In 2012 he was elected a life member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and in 2016 a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.


Developing and applying phylogenetic network methods to human DNA since 1995, Peter Forster identified the first successful human migration populating the world from an African origin, and dated this migration to 55,000 years ago. Their descendants travelled on average about 200 to 1,000 metres per year and reached Asia, Australia and Europe just over 40,000 years ago, and America around 20,000 years ago.

PNAS paper, and to the Cambridge Univ press release:

Selected publications

Forster P: "Necessary Brain?". Nature 375:444, 1995.

The Y Chromosome Consortium: "A nomenclature system for the tree of human Y-chromosomal binary haplogroups." Genome Res 12:339-348, 2002.

Forster L, Forster P, Lutz-Bonengel S, Willkomm H, Brinkmann B: "Natural radioactivity and human mitochondrial DNA mutations." Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2002.

Forster P: "Ice Ages and the mitochondrial DNA chronology of human dispersals: a review." Phil Trans R Soc Lond B 359:255-264, 2004.

Forster P, Renfrew C: "Phylogenetic Methods and the Prehistory of Languages." McDonald Institute Press, University of Cambridge, 2006.

ISBN 978-1-902937-33-5

Matsumura S, Forster P: "Generation time and effective population size in Polar Eskimos." Proc R Soc B 275:1501-1508, 2008.

Forster P, Renfrew C: "Mother Tongue and Y Chromosomes." Science 333:1390-1391, 2011.

Forster P, Hohoff C, Dunkelmann B, Schürenkamp M, Pfeiffer H, Neuhuber F, Brinkmann B: "Elevated germline mutation rate in teenage fathers."

Proc R Soc B 282:20142898, 2015.

Forster P, Forster L, Renfrew C, Forster M "Phylogenetic network analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genomes" PNAS  April 8, 2020




Cambridge Cardiovascular logo - transparent

Logo design by Dr Ana-Mishel Spiroski and Dr Sarah Morgan.


We connect cardiovascular researchers in Cambridge.

Please follow us on Twitter for local news about research, events, funding calls, and open positions.

For inquiries about our research or the website, please contact Dr Tammy Dougan