Dr Marc Haber PhD

Dr Marc Haber

Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
Associate Professor
Director of the Health Data Science Programme in Dubai

Contact details

University of Birmingham
Dubai International Academic City

Marc Haber is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences and leads the Health Data Science Programme at the Dubai Campus. He also directs the Human Genome Diversity group which investigates genetic variation in humans to understand why disease incidence and progression differ among populations. The group prioritizes populations that have been historically underrepresented in genetic research, with the objective of discerning how their unique genomic history has impacted their current disease prevalence.

Marc’s expertise lies in the field of population genetics and bioinformatics. He uses large-scale sequencing data derived from both contemporary and ancient populations to gain insights into the historical events that have shaped the human genome. His research encompasses the exploration of human migration patterns, dispersion across the globe, admixing, adaptation to diverse environments, and the implications of these events on human traits and diseases.


  • PhD in Biomedicine, Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona
  • BSc and MSc in Molecular Biology, Lebanese American University


Marc earned his PhD from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, under the guidance of David Comas. His research focused on unraveling the genetic diversity among various ethnic groups from Afghanistan, the Middle East, and North Africa. He worked to explain the formation of these diverse ethnic groups and the influence of factors such as culture, geography, and historical events on their genetic makeup.

Following his PhD, Marc joined the Human Evolution team at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridge under the mentorship of Chris Tyler-Smith. His research involved an approach that combined the analysis of both modern and ancient DNA to interpret the genetic diversity observed in present-day Africans and Middle Easterners. Additionally, he conducted studies on the genetic traits of isolated populations from Europe, as well as ethnolinguistic groups in the Caucasus and the Himalayas. 

In 2019, Marc took the role of Group Leader at the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University of Birmingham. He established the Human Genome Diversity Group, which is dedicated to investigating the ancestry, traits, and diseases of ethnic groups that have not been sufficiently represented in past genetic research. 

In 2022, Marc founded and is currently directing the Health Data Science programme at the Dubai campus. This programme aims to disseminate cutting-edge technology, knowledge, and computational skills to individuals who are either currently engaged in or aspire to work in the biomedical sector.


Marc and colleagues have developed a Masters programme that is rooted in their own research. The programme is designed to provide students with proficiency in Health Data Science, Genomics, and AI/Machine Learning. The aim is to prepare students to make significant contributions in the field of precision medicine. Read about the programme here: Health Data Science MSc

Postgraduate supervision

Graduate students with strong computational skills who are interested in pursuing their MSc thesis in the group, as well as students who have secured funding and are interested in joining the group to pursue a PhD, are invited to send their CV and their topic of interest to m.haber@bham.ac.uk


Research Overview

Every human can trace their lineage back to a shared ancestral population that first appeared in Africa approximately 200,000 to 300,000 years ago. Since then, populations have begun to differentiate, and genetic differences have emerged. Some of these differences stem from the migration of a few thousand individuals out of Africa around 60,000 years ago - who went on to populate the entire globe, carrying only a small fraction of the genetic diversity found in Africa. Today, the degree of genetic variation in humans is remarkably low when compared to other species. However, these subtle differences among human populations - resulting from genetic drift, admixture, and natural selection - hold significant evolutionary and medical implications. Our group is dedicated to investigating these variations in population genetics. The group uses a cross-disciplinary approach, integrating genetics and bioinformatics with health data, historical records, and archaeological findings. This leads to a deeper understanding of the evolutionary trajectories of diverse populations and assists in pinpointing the factors that contribute to variations in disease susceptibility among different groups.

Team Members

  • Cidra Hammoud: Population demography in East Asia
  • Fatma Al Qutami: Genomics and AI for predicting T2D heterogeneity
  • Mohamed Alrahma: Ancient DNA methods and forensic Science
  • Kondaramage Perera: Ethnic diversity in South Asia

Google Scholar Profile


Press Coverage

Our work featured on the covers of Molecular Biology and Evolution and Cell:

Cover image of Molecular Biology and Evolution publication

Cover image of Cell publication.


Martiniano, R et al. Ancient genomes illuminate Eastern Arabian population history and adaptation against malaria. Cell Genomics 4, 3 (2024).

Zidane, M. et al. Genetic factors for differentiated thyroid cancer in French Polynesia: new candidate loci. Precision Clinical Medicine, pbad015 (2023).

Pawar, H. et al. Ghost admixture in eastern gorillas. Nature ecology & evolution 7, 1503-1514 (2023).

Elliott, K. S. et al. Fine-scale genetic structure in the United Arab Emirates reflects endogamous and consanguineous culture, population history, and geography. Molecular biology and evolution 39, msac039 (2022).

Sahakyan, H. et al. Origin and diffusion of human Y chromosome haplogroup J1-M267. Scientific reports 11, 6659 (2021).

Almarri, M.* and Haber, M.* et al. The genomic history of the Middle East. Cell 184, 4612-4625. e4614 (2021).

Haber, M. et al. A genetic history of the Near East from an aDNA time course sampling eight points in the past 4,000 years. The American Journal of Human Genetics 107, 149-157 (2020).

Haber, M. et al. Insight into the genomic history of the Near East from whole-genome sequences and genotypes of Yemenis. Biorxiv, 749341 (2019).

Haber, M. et al. A rare deep-rooting D0 African Y-chromosomal haplogroup and its implications for the expansion of modern humans out of Africa. Genetics 212, 1421-1428 (2019).

Haber, M. et al. A transient pulse of genetic admixture from the crusaders in the near east identified from ancient genome sequences. The American Journal of Human Genetics 104, 977-984 (2019).

Gurdasani, D. et al. Uganda genome resource enables insights into population history and genomic discovery in Africa. Cell 179, 984-1002. e1036 (2019).

Adlam, D. et al. Association of the PHACTR1/EDN1 genetic locus with spontaneous coronary artery dissection. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 73, 58-66 (2019).

Scheib, C. L. et al. Ancient human parallel lineages within North America contributed to a coastal expansion. Science 360, 1024-1027 (2018).

Haber, M. et al. Response to Giem. The American Journal of Human Genetics 102, 331 (2018).

Arciero, E. et al. Demographic history and genetic adaptation in the Himalayan region inferred from genome-wide SNP genotypes of 49 populations. Molecular biology and evolution 35, 1916-1933 (2018).

Xue, Y.* Mezzavilla, M.* and Haber M.* et al. Enrichment of low-frequency functional variants revealed by whole-genome sequencing of multiple isolated European populations. Nature communications 8, 15927 (2017).

Platt, D. E. et al. Mapping post-glacial expansions: the peopling of Southwest Asia. Scientific reports 7, 1-10 (2017).

Haber, M. et al. Continuity and admixture in the last five millennia of Levantine history from ancient Canaanite and present-day Lebanese genome sequences. The American Journal of Human Genetics 101, 274-282 (2017).

Platt, D. E. et al. Caffeine impact on metabolic syndrome components is modulated by a CYP1A2 variant. Annals of nutrition and metabolism 68, 1-11 (2016).

Haber, M. et al. Ancient DNA and the rewriting of human history: be sparing with Occam’s razor. Genome biology 17, 1-8 (2016).

Haber, M. et al. Genetic evidence for an origin of the Armenians from Bronze Age mixing of multiple populations. European Journal of Human Genetics 24, 931-936 (2016).

Haber, M. et al. Chad genetic diversity reveals an African history marked by multiple Holocene Eurasian migrations. The American Journal of Human Genetics 99, 1316-1324 (2016).

Ayub, Q. et al. Response to Hellenthal et al. The American Journal of Human Genetics 98, 398 (2016).

Ayub, Q., Haber, M. & Tyler-Smith, C. Evolutionary and population genetics in forensic science. Handbook of Forensic Genetics: Biodiversity and Heredity in Civil and Criminal Investigation, 33-60 (2016).

Platt, D. E. et al. Circulating lipid levels and risk of coronary artery disease in a large group of patients undergoing coronary angiography. Journal of thrombosis and thrombolysis 39, 15-22 (2015).

Pagani, L. et al. Tracing the route of modern humans out of Africa by using 225 human genome sequences from Ethiopians and Egyptians. The American Journal of Human Genetics 96, 986-991 (2015).

Milane, A. et al. Association of coronary artery disease and chronic kidney disease in Lebanese population. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine 8, 15866 (2015).

Merhi, M. et al. Impact of inflammation, gene variants, and cigarette smoking on coronary artery disease risk. Inflammation Research 64, 415-422 (2015).

Balanovsky, O. et al. Deep phylogenetic analysis of haplogroup G1 provides estimates of SNP and STR mutation rates on the human Y-chromosome and reveals migrations of Iranic speakers. PLoS One 10, e0122968 (2015).

Ayub, Q. et al. The Kalash genetic isolate: ancient divergence, drift, and selection. The American Journal of Human Genetics 96, 775-783 (2015).

ArunKumar, G. et al. Genome-wide signatures of male-mediated migration shaping the Indian gene pool. Journal of human genetics 60, 493-499 (2015).

Nikpay, M et al. A comprehensive 1000 Genomes–based genome-wide association meta-analysis of coronary artery disease. Nature genetics 47, 1121-1130 (2015).

Hovhannisyan, A. et al. Different waves and directions of Neolithic migrations in the Armenian Highland. Investigative genetics 5, 1-11 (2014).

Ghassibe-Sabbagh, M. et al. T2DM GWAS in the Lebanese population confirms the role of TCF7L2 and CDKAL1 in disease susceptibility. Scientific reports 4, 7351 (2014).

Ghassibe-Sabbagh, M. et al. Multivariate epidemiologic analysis of type 2 diabetes mellitus risks in the Lebanese population. Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome 6, 1-12 (2014).

Elhaik, E. et al. Geographic population structure analysis of worldwide human populations infers their biogeographical origins. Nature communications 5, 3513 (2014).

Haber, M. et al. Genome-wide diversity in the levant reveals recent structuring by culture. PLoS genetics 9, e1003316 (2013).

Fadhlaoui-Zid, K.* and Haber, M.* et al. Genome-wide and paternal diversity reveal a recent origin of human populations in North Africa. PLoS One 8, e80293 (2013).

Badro, D. A. et al. Y-chromosome and mtDNA genetics reveal significant contrasts in affinities of modern Middle Eastern populations with European and African populations. PloS one 8, e54616 (2013).

Melé, M. et al. Recombination gives a new insight in the effective population size and the history of the old world human populations. Molecular biology and evolution 29, 25-30 (2012).

Hager, J. et al. Genome-wide association study in a Lebanese cohort confirms PHACTR1 as a major determinant of coronary artery stenosis. PloS one 7, e38663 (2012).

Haber, M. et al. mtDNA lineages reveal coronary artery disease‐associated structures in the Lebanese population. Annals of human genetics 76, 1-8 (2012).

Haber, M. et al. Afghanistan's ethnic groups share a Y-chromosomal heritage structured by historical events. PloS one 7, e34288 (2012).

Ghassibe-Sabbagh, M. et al. Genetic and environmental influences on total plasma homocysteine and its role in coronary artery disease risk. Atherosclerosis 222, 180-186 (2012).

ArunKumar, G. et al. Population differentiation of southern Indian male lineages correlates with agricultural expansions predating the caste system. PLoS One 7, e50269 (2012).

Saade, S. et al. Large scale association analysis identifies three susceptibility loci for coronary artery disease. PloS one 6, e29427 (2011).

Haber, M. et al. Y-chromosome R-M343 African lineages and sickle cell disease reveal structured assimilation in Lebanon. Journal of human genetics 56, 29-33 (2011).

Haber, M. et al. Influences of history, geography, and religion on genetic structure: the Maronites in Lebanon. European Journal of Human Genetics 19, 334-340 (2011).

Balanovsky, O. et al. Parallel evolution of genes and languages in the Caucasus region. Molecular biology and evolution 28, 2905-2920 (2011).

Melé, M. et al. A new method to reconstruct recombination events at a genomic scale. PLoS computational biology 6, e1001010 (2010).

Haber, M., et al. Leishmania major: interleukin-13 increases the infection-induced hyperalgesia and the levels of interleukin-1beta and interleukin-12 in rats. Experimental Parasitology 121, 224-229 (2009).

El‐Sibai, M. et al. Geographical Structure of the Y‐chromosomal Genetic Landscape of the Levant: A coastal‐inland contrast. Annals of human genetics 73, 568-581 (2009).

Zalloua, P. A. et al. Identifying genetic traces of historical expansions: Phoenician footprints in the Mediterranean. The American Journal of Human Genetics 83, 633-642 (2008). 

View all publications in research portal