Michael Campbell

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Pronouns He / Him / His Email mc44680@usc.edu

Research & Practice Areas

Human Biology; Evolution & Population Genetics; Genomics


Dr. Michael C. Campbell completed his undergraduate studies (B.Sc.) in Biological Anthropology at the University of Toronto, Canada, and his Master’s degree (M.Sc.) in Human Biology at the University of Oxford, England. He obtained his Ph.D. in the area of Human Evolutionary Genetics from Columbia University and completed his post-doctoral training in Genetics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He then held an Associate Research Scientist position in Biostatistics at the Yale University School of Public Health. Prior to joining the faculty at USC, Dr. Campbell was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Howard University in Washington D.C. Dr. Campbell’s research interests lie at the intersection of genomic variation, evolution, and the emergence of human traits. His areas of focus include human population history, the genomic basis of normal variable traits and complex disease, and computational methods development. 

In addition, Dr. Campbell is passionate about undergraduate mentoring as well as diversity and inclusion in STEM. He strives to create a dynamic classroom learning environment that promotes self-efficacy among students by: 1) implementing needs assessments; 2) employing cognitive sequence learning strategies; and 3) modulating the presentation of material to access the diverse ways in which students learn. Overall, Dr. Campbell is committed to enhancing knowledge content and technical skills, as well as facilitating student success in a variety of settings.


  • Ph.D. Human Evolutionary Genetics, Columbia University, 10/2007
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Assistant Professor, Howard University, 08/15/2015 – 08/22/2021

    Research, Teaching, Practice, and Clinical Appointments

    • Associate Research Scientist, Yale University School of Public Health, 2014-2015
    • Research Fellow, Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, University of Birmingham, England, 2020-11-01-2022-10-31

    PostDoctoral Appointments

    • Biomedical Postdoctoral Researcher, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 07/01/2008 – 05/31/2014

    Visiting and Temporary Appointments

    • Visiting Assistant Professor, Yale University School of Public Health, 2015-2016
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    My research combines field-based, experimental, and computational methods to: 1) reconstruct human demographic history; and 2) identify genomic variation associated with human traits. In particular, I am interested in the past migration and admixture of anatomically modern humans in the Arabian Peninsula (AP) and Africa. Furthermore, my research aims to identify variants that contribute to the development of human normal variable traits (e.g. lactase persistence and skin pigmentation variation, as well as related phenotypes) and complex disease (e.g. kidney and breast cancers). I also work with top-notch scientists to investigate the dynamics of the gut microbiome in urban and rural populations in the AP.

    Additionally, while software development is not a major focus of my laboratory, I have collaborated with outstanding colleagues at the Yale University School of Public Health to develop a computational method that detects genetic signatures of positive selection within coding sequences (called MASS-PRF). These genetic signals are adaptive nucleotide changes (presumably impacting gene function) that arose in the human lineage and are fixed in our species.

    Research Keywords

    human population genomics; normal variable traits; complex disease, demography; natural selection; and evolution.

    Research Specialties

    Human Biology; Evolution & Population Genetics; Genomics

  • Contracts and Grants Awarded

    • NSF CAREER Award: Examining the genetic architecture and evolutionary history of skin pigmentation, (National Science Foundation), Michael C. Campbell, $0, 08/01/2021 – 07/31/2026
    • KCRP: The Genomic Landscape of Papillary Renal Cell Carcinoma Arising in African American Patients, (Department of Defense), Adam Metwalli, Michael C. Campbell, Tamaro Hudson, Paul Boutros, Brian Shuch, and Jeffrey Townsend, $154,000, 10/01/2021 – 09/30/2023
    • NSF Standard: Understanding the genomic basis and evolutionary history of lactase persistence, (National Science Foundation), Michael C. Campbell, Courtney Robinson, $350,000, 08/01/2020 – 07/31/2023
    • NSF Targeted Infusion: Inspiring, Engaging and Retaining Underrepresented Students in Computing, (National Science Foundation), Michael C. Campbell, Atanu Duttaroy, Stacy Farina, and Shaolei Teng, $400,000, 2020-2021
  • Journal Article

    • TGDSC Network, ,., Alcazar, R., Alvarez, M., Arnold, R., Ayalew, M., Best, L. G., Campbell, M. C., Chowdhury, K., Cox, K. E., Daulton, C., Deng, Y., Easter, C., Fuller, K., Tabassum Hakim, S., Hoffman, A. M., Kucher, N., Lee, A., Lee, J., Leek, J. T., Meller, R., Méndez, L. B., Méndez-González, M. P., Mosher, S., Nishiguchi, M., Pratap, S., Rolle, T., Roy, S., Saidi, R., Schatz, M. C., Sen, S., Sniezek, J., Suarez Martinez, E., Tan, F., Vessio, J., Watson, K., Westbroek, W., Wilcox, J., Xie, X. (2022). Diversifying the Genomic Data Science Research Community. Genome Research. Vol. 32 (7), pp. 1231–1241.
    • Zhang, C., Verma, A., Feng, Y., Melo, V. C., McQuillan, M., Hansen, M., Lucas, A., Park, J., Ranciao, A., Thompson, S., Rubel, M. A., Campbell, M. C., Beggs, W., Hirbo, J., Mpoloka, S. W., Mokone, G. G., Genetic Center, R., Nyambo, T., Wolde Meskel, D., Belay, G., Fokunang, C., Njamnshi, A. K., Omar, S. A., Williams, S. M., Rader, D., Ritchie, M. D., de la Fuente Nunez, C., Sirugo, G., Tishkoff, S. A. (2022). Impact of natural selection on global patterns of genetic variation and association with clinical phenotypes at genes involved in SARS-CoV-2 infection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. Vol. 119 (21), pp. e2123000119. PubMed Web Address
    • Turkistani, S., Sugita, B. M., Fadda, P., Marchi, R., Afsari, A., Naab, T., Apprey, V., Copeland Jr, R. L., Campbell, M. C., Cavalli, L. R., Kanaan, Y. (2021). A panel of miRNAs as prognostic markers for African-American patients with triple negative breast cancer. BMC cancer. Vol. 21 (1), pp. 861. PubMed Web Address
    • Musa, H. H., Musa, T. H., Musa, I. H., Musa, I. H., Ranciaro, A., Campbell, M. C. (2021). Addressing Africa’s pandemic puzzle: Perspectives on COVID-19 transmission and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. Int J Infect Dis. Vol. 102 (2020/10/04), pp. 483-488.
    • Taylor, L. J., Dothard, M. I., Rubel, M. A., Allen, A. A., Hwang, Y., Roche, A. M., Graham-Wooten, J., Fitzgerald, A. S., Khatib, L. A., Ranciaro, A., Thompson, S. R., Beggs, W. R., Campbell, M. C., Mokone, G. G., Mpoloka, S. W., Fokunang, C., Njamnshi, A. K., Mbunwe, E., Woldemeskel, D., Belay, G., Nyambo, T., Tishkoff, S. A., Collman, R. G., Bushman, F. D. (2021). Redondovirus diversity and evolution on global, individual, and molecular scales. J Virol. (2021/08/19), pp. JVI0081721.
    • Campbell, M. C., Ranciaro, A. (2021). Human adaptation, demography and cattle domestication: an overview of the complexity of lactase persistence in Africa. Human Molecular Genetics. Vol. 30 (R1), pp. R98-R109.
    • Campbell, M. C., Ashong, B., Teng, S., Harvey, J., Cross, C. N. (2019). Multiple selective sweeps of ancient polymorphisms in and around LTalpha located in the MHC class III region on chromosome 6. BMC Evol Biol. Vol. 19, pp. 218.
    • Campbell, M. C., Smith, L. T., Harvey, J. (2019). Population genetic evidence for positive and purifying selection acting at the human IFN-gamma locus in Africa. Genes Immun. Vol. 20 (22018/03/31), pp. 143-157.
    • Crawford, N. G., Kelly, D. E., Hansen, M. E., Beltrame, M. H., Fan, S., Bowman, S. L., Jewett, E., Ranciaro, A., Thompson, S., Lo, Y., Pfeifer, S. P., Jensen, J. D., Campbell, M. C., Beggs, W., Hormozdiari, F., Mpoloka, S. W., Mokone, G. G., Nyambo, T., Meskel, D. W., Belay, G., Haut, J., Sequencing Program, N. C., Rothschild, H., Zon, L., Zhou, Y., Kovacs, M. A., Xu, M., Zhang, T., Bishop, K., Sinclair, J., Rivas, C., Elliot, E., Choi, J., Li, S. A., Hicks, B., Burgess, S., Abnet, C., Watkins-Chow, D. E., Oceana, E., Song, Y. S., Eskin, E., Brown, K. M., Marks, M. S., Loftus, S. K., Pavan, W. J., Yeager, M., Chanock, S., Tishkoff, S. A. (2017). Loci associated with skin pigmentation identified in African populations. Science. Vol. 358 (63652017/10/14)
    • Zhao, Z. M., Campbell, M. C., Li, N., Lee, D. S., Zhang, Z., Townsend, J. P. (2017). Detection of Regional Variation in Selection Intensity within Protein-Coding Genes Using DNA Sequence Polymorphism and Divergence. Mol Biol Evol. Vol. 34 (112017/09/30), pp. 3006-3022.
    • Mao, L., Fang, Y., Campbell, M., Southerland, W. M. (2017). Population differentiation in allele frequencies of obesity-associated SNPs. BMC Genomics. Vol. 18 (1), pp. 861.
    • Rawlings-Goss, R. A., Campbell, M. C., Tishkoff, S. A. (2014). Global population-specific variation in miRNA associated with cancer risk and clinical biomarkers. BMC medical genomics. Vol. 7 (1), pp. 1-14.
    • Ranciaro, A., Campbell, M. C., Hirbo, J. B., Ko, W., Froment, A., Anagnostou, P., Kotze, M. J., Ibrahim, M., Nyambo, T., Omar, S. A., Tiishkoff, S. A. (2014). Genetic origins of lactase persistence and the spread of pastoralism in Africa. American Journal of Human Genetics. Vol. 94 (4), pp. 496-510.
    • Sigma Xi, Scientific Research Honor Society (Full member), 2018/09/01
    • Distinguished Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholarship (Assistant Professor), Howard University, 2020-2021
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