Dr. Pollard earned her master’s degree and PhD in biostatistics from the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, she developed computationally intensive statistical methods for the analysis of microarray data with applications in cancer biology. She implemented these approaches in Bioconductor, an open source software program used with high-throughput genomic data. As a comparative genomics postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Dr. Pollard participated in the Chimpanzee Genome Project and used this sequence to identify the fastest evolving regions in the human genome, known as Human Accelerated Regions.
Dr. Pollard’s lab develops statistical and computational methods for the analysis of massive genomic datasets. Her research focuses on genome evolution, in particular identifying DNA sequences that differ significantly between or within species, and the sequences’ relationship to biomedical traits. Many of these sequences are non-coding, such as regulatory signals, structural sites and RNA genes. Dr. Pollard’s group aims to pinpoint specific DNA alterations in these sequences that are responsible for changes in gene expression. Current projects focus on two major areas: identifying the genetic basis for human-specific traits, such as our susceptibility to AIDS and atherosclerosis; and characterizing the human microbiome through metagenomic data.