Dr. Gokhman is a pioneer in a new field called “paleo-epigenetics”— using bioinformatic analyses to research the recent history of mankind. His doctorate in genetics at Hebrew University analyzed Neanderthal and ancient Homo sapiens DNA samples to reveal the first epigenetic landscape of extinct hominids. This work demonstrated how new technology in combination with innovative thought can address questions that were previously beyond our reach.
Dr. Gokhman’s work on methylation in ancient hominins shows that it is largely similar to that in humans, but the differences that exist seem to be related to differing lifestyles and physiologies. For instance, our vocal tract has gone through a particularly rapid evolution that is not shared by archaic human groups. This work was published in Science, and was covered by more than 200 science and news websites.
During his graduate studies, Dr. Gokhman served as scientific coordinator of the Alpha program for high-school matriculation projects, which allows gifted high-school students to delve into scientific research.
At Stanford, Dr. Gokhman intends to use a new experimental system developed there to study the evolution of the human muscular system, focusing on skeletal myocytes, the main muscle cells that determine fitness, endurance and strength capabilities.