Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Vienna


Helmut Schaschl, Dr. Priv. Doz. - Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

Short Curriculum Vitae

I joined the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Faculty of Life Sciences, in 2011 after my post-doctoral training at the Imperial College London, CRUK and Max Planck Institute. I obtained my Habilitation in Human Genetics in 2014 (Venia Legendi in Human- and Evolutionary Genetics). Furthermore, I am the EU project coordinator of the EU/FP7 funded postdoctoral fellowship programme INDICAR - Interdisciplinary Cancer Research: - INDICAR offers the possibility for postdoctoral researchers to develop their own, independent, research project in the field of cancer research; a primary goal of this project is to promote interdisciplinary and highly interactive research between research groups and across faculties (see also our promotion video ).

Recent papers

Schaschl H & Wallner B (2020). Population-specific, recent positive directional selection suggests adaptation of human male reproductive genes to different environmental conditions. BMC Evol Biol 20, 27 (2020). .

Wallner B, Windhager S, Schaschl H et al. (2019). Sexual Attractiveness: a Comparative Approach to Morphological, Behavioral and Neurophysiological Aspects of Sexual Signaling in Women and Nonhuman Primate Females. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 5:164–186. .

Ben Slimen H, Schaschl H, Knauer F, Suchentrunk F (2017). Selection on the mitochondrial ATP synthase 6 and the NADH dehydrogenase 2 genes in hares (Lepus capensis L., 1758) from a steep ecological gradient in North Africa. BMC Evol Biol. 2017 Feb 7;17(1):46. .

Schaschl H, Huber S,Windhager S, Schaefer K, Wallner B, Fieder M (2015). Signatures of positive selection in the cis-regulatory sequences of the human oxytocin receptor (OXTR) and arginine vasopressin receptor 1a (AVPR1A) genes. BMC Evol Biol. 2015 May 13;15:85. .

Windhager S, Schaschl H, Schaefer K, Mitteroecker P, Huber S, Wallner B, Fieder M (2014). Variation at Genes Influencing Facial Morphology Are Not Associated with Developmental Imprecision in Human Faces. Plos ONE; 9(6):e99009. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099009. .

Rütgen BC, Gerner W, Beiglböck C, Schaschl H, Saalmüller A, Suchentrunk F, Essler SE. (2014). Exploratory assessment of CD4+ T lymphocytes in brown hares (Lepus europeus) using a cross-reactive anti-rabbit CD4 antibody. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 161(1-2):108-15. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2014.06.001.

Mueller M, Barros P, Witherden AS, Roberts AL, Zhang Z, Schaschl H, Yu CY, Hurles ME, Schaffner C, Floto RA, Game L, Steinberg KM, Wilson R, Eichler EE, Cook TH, Vyse TJ, Aitman TJ (2013). Genomic pathology of SLE-associated copy number variation at the FCGR2C/3B/2B locus. The American Journal of Human Genetics 92, 28–40. .

Research Funding

ASEA-uninet 2019 (ID: ASEA2019/Uni Wien/4): 9.145 EUR (together with Helmut Lukas)

EU FP7-Cofund Project (ID: 609431) 2013 - 2018: € 3.939.605 EUR project volume (EU funding 1.539.605 EUR and funding from the Johanna Mahlke geb. Obermann-Stiftung €2.400.000 EUR); together with Amy Radlberger, Lucas Zinner. Project title: INDICAR: Interdisciplinary Cancer Research: .

Austrian Sciences Fund (FWF) Research Grant (2007-2010), Project ID: P18534, Funding: €303,000 EUR, together with Dr. Franz Suchentrunk from the Veterinary Medicine University Vienna.

Current Research Interests

*- Human population genetics, natural selection, genetic adaptation
*- Immunogenetics of natural populations
*- Genetics of human autoimmune diseases
*- Population genetics and evolutionary genetic history of the Maniq People

My research combines lab-based molecular genetic methods, population genetics, human genomics, and bioinformatics. I address questions in regard to the basic characteristics of human genomic diversity at different scales, and what such variation implies about the human evolutionary past, genetic variability, genetic adaptation, and disease susceptibility.

In a recent project, I am using (in cooperation with King's College London, David Morris; population-genetic models of natural selection to identify sequence variants in the human genomes contributing to the susceptibility of complex diseases such as autoimmunity (e.g., SLE). I am also studying the MHC diversity in respect to genetic adaption and diseases resistance in natural populations.

Field Research South Thailand 2019 to the Maniq People (co-funded by ASEA-uninet)
Together with Tobias Goellner, Helmut Lukas (Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology) and Khaled Hakami, I study the genetics of the Maniq people who are one of the few remaining primary hunter-gatherer societies of our time, living in the rainforest of South Thailand. We hope that our results will also help to understand their rich evolutionary- and cultural history, to maintain their cultural integrity and the lifestyle they wish to maintain. . Last Foragers Standing - The daily life of the Maniq.

Furthermore, we are interested to understand immunogenetic diversity of the Maniq. We also want to identify genes that are under positive selection; investigate the differences in the level of natural selection pressures between hunter-gatherers and populations that have transitioned to an agriculturalist/modern lifestyle (i.e. the majority of modern societies).


Genetics Society UK
German Society for Mammalian Biology

Teaching .

Current research projects:

PhD project: Tobias Göllner
The Peopling of Asia: genetic ancestry, population structure, demography and natural selection

Master Thesis project from Ana Jelicic: An evolutionary perspective on three psychiatric disorders: major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Master Thesis project from Victoria Oberreiter: Population genetics of autoimmune diseases: Identifying pathways under natural selection in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)