Sebastian Zöllner, Ph.D.

Sebastian Zöllner

AssociateProfessor, Biostatistics Department

Associate Professor, Psychiatry Department

4627 SPH I Tower      Vcard icon
1415 Washington Heights
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2029

Office: (734) 647-9465; Fax: (734) 763-2215


Website(s): Research website

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Professional Summary

Sebastian Zöllner is an Assistant Professor of Biostatistics. He also holds an appointment in the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Zöllner joined the University of Michigan after a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Chicago. His research effort is divided between generating new methods in statistical genetics and analyzing data. The general thrust of his work is problems from human genetics, evolutionary biology and statistical population biology.

Courses Taught

BIOSTAT665: Statistical Population Genetics    Syllabus (PDF)
BIOSTAT666: Statistical Models and Numerical Methods in Human Genetics    Syllabus (PDF)
BIOSTAT865: Advanced Statistical Population Genetics


Ph.D., Biology, University of Munich, 2001
M.S., Mathematics, University of Munich, 1997

Research Interests & Projects

Population Genetics: Human genome variation provides intriguing insights into the evolution of our species and into the biology of heritable traits. My research focuses on developing methods for modeling the stochastic processes generating this variation. Based on these models I make inferences about human population history and develop tools for mapping disease variants.

Copy number variation: Copy number variants (CNVs) are segments of the genome that exist in different copy numbers in the population. As CNVs encompass genes as well as non-coding DNA, they are good candidates for functional variation. I have design methods for competitive genome hybridization (CGH) data and for hybridization intensities in SNP genotype data.

Rare Variants: As it is now possible to generate extensive sequence data for large samples, it may be possible to understand the contribution of rare variants to common complex diseases. I am working on several approaches to address statistical challenges related to this new data.

Genetics of psychiatric diseases: Most psychiatric diseases have high heritability; for example bipolar disorder has a sibling relative risk of 8. Nevertheless, identifying risk variants affecting these diseases has been challenging. I address this challenge by applying modern genetic tools and developing methods to understand the phenotypic heterogeneity of many disorders.

Selected Publications

Search PubMed for publications by Sebastian Zöllner >>

Henrichsen CN*, Vinckenbosch N*, Zöllner S*, Chaignat E, Pradervand S, Ruedi M, Kaessmann H, Reymond (April, 2009). Segmental copy number variation shapes tissue transcriptomes. Nature Genetics, 41, 424-9.

Zöllner S, Su G, Stewart WC, Chen Y, McInnis MG, Burmeister M (March, 2009). Bayesian EM algorithm for scoring polymorphic deletions from SNP data and application to a common CNV on 8q24. Genetic Epidemiology, 4, 357-68.

She X, Cheng Z, Zöllner S, Church D, Eichler EE. (2008). Extensive Copy Number Variation of Mouse Segmental Duplications. Nature Genetics, 40, 909-914.

Burmeister M, McInnis MG, Zöllner S. (2008). Psychiatric Genetics: Progress among Controversies Nature Review Genetics, 9, 527-540.

Zöllner S, Pritchard JK (April, 2007). Overcoming the Winner's Curse: Estimating Penetrance Parameters from Case-Control Data The American Journal of Human Genetics, 80, 605-615.

Zöllner S., Wen X., Hanchard N., Herbert M., Ober C., and Pritchard J. (2004). Evidence for extensive transmission distortion in the human genome. American Journal of Human Genetics, 70, 673-685.

Enard W., Khaitovich P., Klose J., Zöllner S., Heissig F., et al. (2002). Intra- and Interspecific Variation in Primate Gene Expression Patterns. Science, 296, 340-343.

Kaessmann H., Zöllner S., Gustafsson A.C., Wiebe V., Laan M., et al. (2002). Extensive Linkage Disequilibrium in Small Human Populations in Eurasia. American Journal of Human Genetics, 70, 673-685.

Professional Affiliations

American Society of Human Genetics