Our lab studies non-human primates. Based on large-scale genomes, transcriptomes, and epigenomes, we try to reveal the genetic underpinning of the evolution of some complex traits in primates. We also apply reverse genomics and evolutionary biology to reveal unknown phenotypes in primates, because what we know about our close relatives, non-human primates, is largely limited. In addition, we use macaque as a model to study biological mechanisms underlying developmental and aging processes.

Primate Genome Project

A crucial step for understanding human evolution is to identify the genomic changes that occurred during primate evolution, thus allowing investigators to reconstruct the ancestral states preceding the human condition. In the past several decades, the primate clade has been a research focus in genome sequencing due to its unique phylogenetic position and key importance.  Comparative genomic analyses of several primate lineages have radically expanded our knowledge on the tempo and mode of different features in primate genome evolution, revealing many genomic innovations contributing to the development and evolution of human phenotypes. However, with less than 10% of primate species currently sequenced, a considerable gap remains regarding the evolutionary history of every base pair in human and non-human primate (NHP) genomes.  

To fill this gap, we organize and establish the Primate Genome Project (PGP) to scale up the number of high-quality reference genome assemblies for primate species using cutting-edge sequencing technologies. We anticipate that genomic comparisons, including broader taxon sampling of extant primate species, will significantly contribute to our understanding of the evolution of human phenotypes and diseases and the genomic mechanisms of primate speciation and adaptation, which will ultimately assist in primate conservation efforts.