University of Wisconsin–Madison
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences | School of Medicine and Public Health

Laurence Loewe

Assistant Professor


Wisconsin Institute for Discovery Room 3164, 330 N. Orchard Street

Dr. rer. nat., TU Munich, Germany (2002), Postdoctoral Research: University of Edinburgh
Lab Website
Research Interests
Evolutionary systems biology, which bridges systems biology and population genetics with the help of computational modeling in diverse topics like circadian clocks, antibiotic resistance evolution, the population genetics of harmful mutations and species extinction.
Research Fields
Computational, Systems & Synthetic Biology, Evolutionary & Population Genetics

Research Description:
Evolutionary processes are at the heart of many problems that we face in our world today, ranging from antibiotics resistance evolution to species extinction. Addressing such problems requires models of the underlying causes. I aim to improve the quality of these models by quantifying evolution with increasing precision. To this end I estimate the strength of selection in various systems, using different approaches, including the analysis of DNA sequences by population genetics methods. I also develop a new approach that builds on existing quantitative models from current systems biology and links them to potential fitness correlates to help estimate distributions of mutational effects in silico. This is an important part of what I call evolutionary systems biology which aims to combine the strengths of evolutionary genetics and systems biology. To facilitate my work I am developing a biologist-friendly modeling environment in the computer, which includes support for parameter estimation, automated model analysis and distributed computing (see evolution@home). Computational work takes a large fraction of my time. It helps me to improve models for genome evolution, antibiotics resistance evolution and species extinction. Nothing in biology makes sense except when properly quantified in the light of evolution.

Representative Publications:
Search PubMed for more publications by Laurence Loewe

Winkler B, Loewe L, Goldstein S, Himmel TL, Noor, MAF (2012) “Recombination Modulates How Selection Affects Linked Sites in Drosophila.” PLoS Biology 10(11): e1001422.

Loewe L & Hill, WG (2010) “Introduction: The population genetics of mutations: good, bad and indifferent” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 365:1153-1167.

Loewe L (2009) “A framework for evolutionary systems biology”, BMC Systems Biology 3:27

Loewe L & Lamatsch, D (2008) “Quantifying the threat from Muller’s ratchet in the Amazon molly (Poecilia formosa)”, BMC Evolutionary Biology 8:88

Loewe L (2007) “Evolution@home: observations on participant choice, work unit variation and low-effort global computing”. Software Practice & Experience 37:1289-1318.

Loewe L & Charlesworth B (2007) “Background selection in single genes may explain patterns of codon bias”, Genetics 175:1381-1393.

Loewe L & Charlesworth B (2006) “Inferring the distribution of mutational effects on fitness in Drosophila”, Biology Letters 2:426-430.

Loewe L (2006) “Quantifying the genomic decay paradox due to Muller’s ratchet in human mitochondrial DNA” Genetics Research 87:133-159.

Loewe L, Textor V & Scherer S (2003) “High deleterious genomic mutation rate in stationary phase of Escherichia coli”, Science 302:1558-1560.