Marc A. Suchard
Fellow: Awarded 2008
Field of Study: Molecular and Cellular Biology
Competition: US & Canada
Marc A. Suchard, an associate professor in the departments of biomathematics, biostatistics, and human genetics at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and School of Public Health, is in the forefront of the new field of evolutionary medicine.
After earning his B.S. in biophysics (with distinction) from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1995, Dr. Suchard spent two years at Oxford University as a British Marshall Scholar. He then continued his studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, earning a Ph.D. in biomathematics in 2002.
By the time he had earned his M.D. degree from UCLA two years later, he had already authored or coauthored a dozen papers, published in such prominent journals as Science, Human Reproduction, and the British Medical Journal, and his work was attracting growing attention. In 2002, his article “Oh brother, where art thou? A Bayes factor test for recombination with uncertain heritage,” coauthored with R. E. Weiss, K. S. Dorman, and J. S. Sinsheimer, won the Taylor & Francis Publisher’s Award for Excellence in Systematic Research as the best publication that year in Systematic Biology, the top journal in the field of evolution. The next year, he won the Leonard J. Savage Award from the International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA) for his achievements in modeling building and selection in phylogenetics.
His continued work in phylogenetic model selection propelled the shift among evolutionary biologists from heuristic to Bayesian methods for testing their hypotheses. In 2006 the ISBA again honored him, this time with its Mitchell Prize, for his work on join inference of alignment and phylogeny. In 2007 he was selected as an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in computational and molecular evolutionary biology.
His Guggenheim Fellowship helped support his travel to collaborate with such major figures in the field as J. Huelsenbeck at Berkeley, A. Drummond in Auckland, A. Rambaut in Edinburgh, and F. Ronquist in Stockholm in his study of statistical phylogenetics as a means of examining the evolutionary history of viruses that frequently share their genetic material.