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EMBO | EMBL Symposium: Reconstructing the human past: using ancient and modern genomics

September 17 to September 20



This conference will take place at EMBL Heidelberg, with the option to attend virtually.


Symposium Overview

Combining genome-wide data from ancient and modern populations opens new windows into the past and, importantly, their integration with archaeological evidence and historical records elucidates aspects of human history and cultural evolution of past societies. Population-scale sequencing projects investigating past and present human diversity have already provided us with extraordinary insights into patterns of human variation and mobility through time and space. Moreover, genome-wide data from archaic human remains, such as Neandertals and Denisovans, allows to investigate human evolution in action and to provide direct insights into genetic changes that define our own lineage.

The available dataset of genome-wide data from present-day and archaic humans has risen exponentially since the first EMBO ‘Reconstructing the human past’ meeting in 2019. This has drastically enhanced our ability to carry out further large-scale studies on both global and local scales across deeply sampled time transects, making it now possible to ask and answer questions that were simply impossible to address before, in addition to motivating the development of new analytical methods. Critically, with new frontiers in data generation and analyses, questions on ethical practices in paleogenomics need to be considered.

Furthermore, the reconstruction of ancient pathogen genomes and metagenomic analysis of the oral and gut microbiomes provides us with molecular fossils to study microbial evolution through time. The potential of ancient DNA data to reconstruct genomic variation of human-associated animals and plants to understand the process of domestication and their evolutionary trajectory is equally promising to such studies in humans.

This meeting will involve scientists from population genetics, bioinformatics, microbiology, anthropology, archaeology and history and will strengthen future interactions in this young research field that is already changing the way we think about our past and will shape how we study genetic variation in the future.


Session topics

  • Our closest living and extinct relatives
  • Detecting patterns of selection
  • Reconstructing the genetic history of human populations
  • Ethical considerations and research practices in paleogenomics
  • Integrating genetic and historical evidence
  • Evolution of human pathogens, microbiome, and health
  • New methods and avenues for ancient genomic data analysis



JUNE 18:   Abstract Submission
AUG 06:   Registration (On-site)
SEP 10:      Registration (Virtual)

On-site Registration   |   Virtual Registration



September 17
September 20
Event Category:


EMBL Heidelberg and Virtual


View Organizer Website