About me

Aashish R. Jha

PhD Third Year
Department of Human Genetics
The University of Chicago

I am a third year PhD student at the Department of Human Genetics at The University of Chicago. My work focuses on detecting signatures of positive selection using whole genome sequencing approaches in experimentally evolving Drosophila melanogaster populations. I use principles of population genetics and bioinformatics to identify sweeps and polygenic adaptations in flies. I am interested in modes and processes of natural selection in experimentally evolving populations and in natural populations. In future I would like to apply my findings in experimental systems in natural populations, pathogens causing  infectious diseases such as HIV, and evolution of cancer.

I am also interested in anthropology, which I define broadly define as study of “what makes us humans”. This definition is in line with American Anthropological Association. Although I do not have formal training in anthropology, I am interested in two aspects core to anthropology: hominin evolution and language death. I am interested in exploring the role of endogenous retroviruses in hominin evolution. I am passionate about linguistic heterogeneity and language death.


1998-2000 National Institute of Science and Technology, Kathmandu, Nepal High School Biology
2001-2004 College of San Mateo, California AA and AS Liberal Studies and Life Sciences
2004-2007 University of California, Berkeley B. A Molecular and Cellular Biology
2009-Present University of Chicago PhD (in progress) Human Genetics


2010                17th HIV Dynamics and Evolution, Monterey CA. “HERV-K106 may be the youngest human endogenous retrovirus.”

2009                74th Symposium: Evolution – the Molecular Landscape, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, oral presentation as a Symposium Fellow. “Variations in insertion frequencies and haplotypes of polymorphic HERV-K113 and HERV-K115 support “out of Africa” theory of human evolution and also indicate viral evolution post-insertion in the human genome.”


Jha AR, Nixon DF, Rosenberg MG, Martin JN, Deeks SG, Hudson RR, Garrison KE, and Pillai SK. Human endogenous retrovirus K106 (HERV-K106) was infectious after the emergence of anatomically modern humans. PLoS ONE 6(5): e20234. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020234. Also featured at UChicago blog.

Jha AR, Pillai SK, York VA, Sharp ER, Storm EC, Wachter DJ, Martin JN, Deeks SG, Rosenberg MG, Nixon DF, Garrison KE. Cross-sectional dating of novel haplotypes of HERV-K 113 and HERV-K 115 indicate these proviruses originated in Africa before Homo sapiens. Mol Biol Evol. 2009. 26:2617-26

Gautam Y, Gautam J, Jha A. Endangered Tongues. Asia!. October 8, 2010 (reprinted from previous article titled ‘Mother Tongue’ originally published in V.E.N.T., June 8 2010)

Gautam Y and Jha A. Action speak louder than words to prevent language extinctions. Nature. 2010. 464:1125 (correspondence)

An Aboriginal Australian genome reveals separate human dispersals into Asia. Science. Read news articles in Nature News, NY Times, and Telegraph.

IL-2 immunotherapy to recently HIV-1 infected adults maintains the numbers of IL-17 expressing CD4+ T (T(H)17) cells in the periphery. J Clin Immunol. 2010. Sep;30(5):681-92

A novel human CD4+ T-cell inducer subset with potent immunostimulatory properties. Eur J Immunol. 2010. 40:134-41

Lower numbers of circulating Natural Killer T (NK T) cells in individuals with human T lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) associated neurological disease. Clin Exp Immunol. 2009. 158:294-9

Interleukin-10-secreting T cells define a suppressive subset within the HIV-1-specific T-cell population. Eur. J. Immunol. 2009. 39:1-8

Tim-3 expression defines a novel population of dysfunctional T cells with highly elevated frequencies in progressive HIV-1 infection. J Exp Med. 2008. 205:2763-79

Suppression of HIV-1 plasma viral load below detection preserves IL-17 producing T cells in HIV-1 infection. AIDS. 2008. 22:990-2

Last updated: Sept 24, 2011

One response to “About me

  1. Anonymous

    Dear Ashish,
    I was digging up some information on anthropology and came across your blog. SO INTERESTING!!! Then I read “about me” and realized ur Yoshina’s husband. We should hang out and talk linguistics, history, DNA and anthropology.

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