Theodore Schurr

Professor of Anthropology; Graduate Group Chair

Penn Museum, Room 432




I am a Professor in the Department of Anthropology, and a Consulting Curator in the Physical Anthropology and American Sections of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. I am also the Director of the North American Regional Center of the Genographic Project, and Head of the Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.

For the past thirty years, I have investigated the genetic prehistory of Asia and the Americas through studies of mtDNA, Y-chromosome and autosomal DNA variationin Asian, Siberian and Native American populations.  Our current projects include studies of genetic diversity in indigenous populations of Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. My research group is also exploring the population history of Georgia (Caucasus), Pakistan and Kazakhstan through our collaborative genetic studies in those countries. Other projects are investigating mitochondrial diseases in human populations as well as the role of the mtDNA in complex diseases, metabolism and adaptation.



B.S. University of Georgia, 1983; M.A. Emory University, 1996; Ph.D. Emory University 1998

Office Hours

By appointment

Research Interests

Subject areas: Human evolutionary genetics, mitochondrial biology and disease, biomedical genetics, ancient DNA, primate genetics; Geographic areas: Africa, Americas, Australia, Georgia (Caucasus), Melanesia, Siberia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Turkey

Selected Publications


Weber AW, Katzenberg MA, Schurr TG,editors. 2010. Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers of the Baikal Region, Siberia: Bioarchaeological Studies of Past Lifeways. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.



Ochir-Goryaeva MA, Kornienko IV, Faleeva TG, Aramova OY, Makhotkin MA, Kekeev EA, Burataev EG, Kukanova VV, Sidorenko YS, Chartier DR, Schurr TG, Tatarinova TV. 2021. Ancestry and identity in Catacomb culture burials: A meta-tale of graves, skeletons, and DNA. J Archeol Sci: Reports 7: 102894.

Zimmerman KP, Schurr TG, Chen W-M, Nayak U, Mychaleckyj JC, Quet Q, Moultire LH, Divers J, Keene KL, Kamen DL, Gilkeson GS, Hunt KJ, Sprulli IJ, Fernandes JK, Aldrich MA, ReichD, Garvey WT, Langefeld CD, Sale MM, Ramos PS, 2020. Genetic landscape of Gullah African Americans. BioRxiv doi:

Fleskes RE, Ofunniyin AA, Gilmore J, Poplin E, Abel S, Juarez C, Bueschgen W, Butler N, Mishoe G, Oubré L, Cabana G, Schurr TG. 2020. Bioarcheological and genetic analysis of Anson Street burials and the legacy of slavery in Charleston, SC. Am J Phys Anthropol 2020; 1–22.

Zubair M, Habib A, Hemphill BE, Schurr TG, Tariq M. 2020.Mitochondrial genetic diversity of the Khattak and Kheshgi tribes of Peshawar Valley, Pakistan. Genetica

Chitanava D, Schurr TG, Bitadze L Khorava B, Tsimintia Q, Shengelia I, Yardumian A, Lalishvili S, Shengelia R. 2019. An interdisciplinary analysis of surname extinction in Samegrelo (North-West Georgia). J Georgian Acad Sci 13(4): 109-114.

Sanabria DJ, Mojsiejczuk LN, Torres C, Meyer AG, Mbayed VA, Liotta DJ, Campos RH, Schurr TG, Badano I. 2019. Genetic diversity of the JC polyomavirus (JCPyV) genetic diversity and mitochondrial DNA ancestry in Misiones, Argentina. Infect Genet Evol

Fleskes RE, Bruwelheide KS, West FL, Owsley DW, Griffiths DR, Barc KG, Cabana GS, Schurr TG. 2019. Ancient DNA and bioarcheological perspectives on European and African diversity and relationships on the colonial Delaware frontier. Am J Phys Anthropol 170(2): 232-245.

Benn Torres J, Martucci V, Aldrich MC, Vilar MG, MacKinney T, Tariq M, Gaieski JB, Bharath Hernandez R, Browne ZE, Stevenson M, Walters W, Schurr TG, The Genographic Consortium. 2019. Analysis of biogeographic ancestry reveals complex genetic histories for indigenous communities of St. Vincent and Trinidad. Am J Phys Anthropol 169(3): 482-497 DOI:10.1002/ajpa.23859.

Yardumian A, Schurr TG. 2019. The geography of Jewish ethnogenesis. J Anthropol Res 75(2): 206-234 (Summer) doi/full/10.1086/702709.

Badano I, Sanabria DJ, Totaro ME, Rubinstein S, Liotta DJ, Picconi MA, Campos R, Schurr TG. 2018. mtDNA background, HPV infection and the risk of cervical cancer in a multiethnic population of northeastern Argentina. PLoS ONE 13(1): e0190966.

Yardumian A, Shengelia R, Bitadze L, Chitanava D, Laliashvili S, Laliashvili I, Villanea F, Sanders A, Azzam A, Groner V, Edleson K, Vilar MG, Schurr TG. 2017. Genetic diversity in Svaneti and its implications for the human settlement of the Highland Caucasus. Am J Phys Anthropol 164(4): 837-852.

Nagle N, Ballantyne KN, van Oven M, Tyler-Smith C, Xue Y, Wilcox S, Wilcox L, Turkalov R, van Oorschot RAH, van Holst Pellekaan S, Schurr TG, McAllister P, Williams L, Kayser, Mitchell RJ, The Genographic Consortium. 2016. Mitochondrial DNA diversity of present-day Aboriginal Australians and implications for human evolution in Oceania. J Hum Genet advanceonline publication, 1 December 2016; doi:10.1038/jhg.2016.147.

Jota MS, Lacerda DR, Sandoval JR, Vieira PPR, Soares DOQ, Santos-Júnior JE, Acosta O, Cuellar C, Revollo S, Paz-y-Miño C, Fujita R, Vallejo GA, Schurr TG, Tarazona-Santos EM, Peña SDJ, Ayub Q, Tyler-Smith C, Santos FR, The Genographic Consortium. 2016. New native South American Y-chromosome lineages. J Hum Genet DOI: 10.1038/jhg.2016.26.

Krzywanski DM, Moellering DR, Westbrook DG, Dunham-Snary KJ, Brown J, Bray AW, Feeley KP, Sammy MJ, Smith MR, Schurr TG, Vita JA, Ambalavanan N, Calhoun D, Dell’Italia L, Ballinger SW. 2016. Endothelialcell bioenergetics and mitochondrial DNA damage differ in humans having African or West Eurasian maternal ancestry. Circ Cardiovasc Genet DOI: 10.1161/CIRCGENETICS.115.001308.

Benn Torres J, Vilar MG, Torres G, Gaieski JB, Bharath Hernandez R, Browne ZE, Stevenson M, Waters W, Schurr TG, The Genographic Consortium. 2015. Genetic diversity in Carib and Garifuna populations of the Lesser Antilles reveals significant indigenous ancestry and insights into Caribbean settlement history. PLoSONE 10(10): e0139192 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0139192.

Badano I, Totaro ME, Culasso ACA, Sanabria DJ, Schurr TG, Balette IC, Roisman A, Basiletti J, Picconi MA, Campos RH, Domingo LJ. 2015. Genetic characterization and clinical implications of human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) variants from northeastern Argentina. Infect Genet Evol 29:103-105.



Schurr TG. 2020. Host genetic factors and susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Am J Hun Biol 32:e23497.

Yardumian A, Schurr TG. 2011. Who are the Anatolian Turks? A reappraisal of the anthropological genetics evidence. Archeol Anthropol Eurasia 50(1): 6-43(Summer).

Schurr TG. 2004. The peopling of the New World: Perspectives from molecular anthropology. Annu Rev Anthropol 33(3): 551-583.



Gómez R, Schurr TG, Meraz-Ríos MA. 2019. Diversity of Mexican paternal lineages reflects evidence of 500 years of admixture. In: Muñoz Moreno ML, Crawford MH, editors. Human Migration: Biocultural Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press (In press).

Schurr TG. 2019. Where tides of genes perpetual ebb and flow: What DNA evidence tells us about the peopling of the Americas. In: Suarez R, Ardelean C, editors. People and Culture in Ice Age Americas: New Directions in Paleoamerican Archeology. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, pp. 220-243.

Schurr TG, Benn Torres J, Vilar MG, Gaieski JB, Melendez C. 2016. An emerging history of indigenous Caribbean and circum-Caribbean populations: Insights from archeological, ethnographic, genetic and historical studies. In: Zuckerman M, Martin DL, editors. New Directions in Biological Anthropology:Papers Honoring the Legacy of George Armelagos. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, pp. 385-402.

Schurr TG. 2015. Tracing human movements from Siberia to the Americas: New insights from genetic studies. In: Frachetti MB, Spengler RN, III, editors. Mobility and Ancient Society in Asia and the Americas. Basel: Springer, pp. 23-47.


Please contact me by email ( to request a copy of any of these publications.


Courses Taught

ANTH 003: Introduction to Human Evolution

ANTH 104: Sex and Human Nature

ANTH 106: Anthropological Genetics

ANTH 143: Explorations in Human Biology

ANTH 244: Disease and Human Evolution

ANTH 246: Molecular Anthropology

ANTH 249: Evolutionary Medicine

ANTH 300: Research Seminar

ANTH 336: The Peopling of the Americas

ANTH 602: Evolutionary Anthropology

ANTH 695: Current Topics in Molecular Anthropology



Anthropology Department Faculty; Department of Biology Graduate Group, University of Pennsylvania; Associate Member, Center for East Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania; Member, CHOP Mitochondrial Research Affinity Group, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; Research Associate, Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania; Member, International Center for Clinical Genetics, Kharkiv, Ukraine; Consortium Faculty, Penn Genomic Frontiers Institute; Consulting Curator, American and Physical Anthropology Sections, Penn Museum; Consortium Faculty, African Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania



Faculty Status