Professor Peter Donnelly

Director, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics; Professor of Statistical Science; Fellow of St Anne's College


Professor Donnelly applies statistical methods to real-world problems, ranging from DNA analysis for criminal trials to the treatment of genetic disorders. A mathematician who collaborates with biologists, he specialises in applying probability and statistics to the field of genetics to shed light on evolutionary history and the structure of the human genome.

He is known for his work in molecular evolution (tracing the roots of human existence to their earliest origins using the mutation rates of mitochondrial DNA). He studies genetic distributions in living populations to trace human evolutionary history, an approach that informs research in evolutionary biology, as well as medical treatment for genetic disorders. He is a key player in the International HapMap Project, an ongoing international effort to model human genetic variation and pinpoint the genes responsible for specific aspects of health and disease.

He is also a leading expert on DNA analysis and the use of forensic science in criminal trials and is an advocate for bringing sensible statistical analysis into the courtroom. 


  • Genetics of common human diseases
  • Population genetics
  • Human demographic history
  • Bacterial evolution and infection

Media experience

Professor Donnelly has extensive media experience across both print and broadcast.