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Jeffrey Townsend, PhD

Elihu Professor of Biostatistics and Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Co-Leader, Genomics, Genetics, & Epigenetics Research Program

Contact Information

Jeffrey Townsend, PhD

Lab Location

Office Location

Mailing Address

  • Biostatistics

    135 College St, Room 222

    New Haven, CT 06510-2483

    United States



Professor Townsend received his Ph.D. in 2002 in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University, under the advisement of Daniel Hartl. His Ph.D. was entitled "Population genetic variation in genome-wide gene expression: modeling, measurement, and analysis", and constituted the first population genetic analysis of genome-wide gene expression variation. After making use of the model budding yeast S. cerevisiae for his Ph.D. research, Dr. Townsend accepted an appointment as a Miller Fellow at the University of California-Berkeley in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, where he worked to develop molecular tools, techniques, and analysis methodologies for functional genomics studies with the filamentous fungal model species Neurospora crassa, co-advised by Berkeley fungal evolutionary biologist John Taylor and molecular mycologist Louise Glass. In 2004, he accepted his first appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut. In 2006 he was appointed as an Assistant Professor the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. In 2013 he began to work on statistical approaches to fit mathematical models of disease spread and emergence, and to work on the somatic evolution of cancer, and was appointed as an Associate Professor of Biostatistics and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. In 2017 he was named Elihu Associate Professor of Biostatistics and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, and in 2018 he was appointed Elihu Professor of Biostatistics and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.

Education & Training

  • Miller Postdoctoral Fellw
    University of California, Berkeley (2004)
  • PhD
    Harvard University, Organismic & Evolutionary Biology (2002)
  • ScB
    Brown University, Biology (1994)


  • Ebolavirus sequence analysis and epidemic modeling
    Freetown, Sierra Leone (2014-2015)
    Using Ebolavirus genomic and epidemiological data, we are conducting joint analyses of both data types to fit dynamic transmission models for the major Ebolavirus outbreak in Sierra Leone. Our analysis evaluates the degree of underreporting of disease cases, and the degree of social clustering of transmission, important epidemiological parameters that can bias medical demand forecasts.
  • Yaws
    Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo 2012
    Dynamic mathematical modeling predicting treatment necessary for eradication of Yaws
  • Human Hookworm
    Zanzibar, Tanzania 2011
    Dynamic mathematical modeling evaluating the efficacy of treatment of Human Hookworm Infection
  • Antibiotic resistance
    Tromso, Norway (2010-2020)
    Evaluate trace antibiotics in the environment as an environmental toxin

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Translational Research PrizeYale Cancer Center2017
Young Investigator's PrizeAmerican Society of Naturalists2005
Ph.D. Thesis ranked among the Top Four Life Science ThesesCouncil of Graduate Schools2002
Walter M. Fitch Prize for Best Young InvestigatorSociety for Molecular Biology and Evolution2001

Professional Service

Woodbridge Board of Education, Woodbridge Board of EducationBoard Member2019 - 2021
Yale College Road RunnersAdvisor2008 - Present

Departments & Organizations