Headshot photo of Donald F. Conrad, Ph.D.

Donald F. Conrad, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Oregon National Primate Research Center
  • Chief, Division of Genetics, Oregon National Primate Research Center


Don Conrad, Ph.D. was recruited to OHSU in 2018 as chief of the newly established Division of Genetics at the Primate Center. He is a broadly trained human geneticist with over 15 years of experience in developing statistical and experimental methods for genome analysis. He obtained a Ph.D. in Human Genetics from the University of Chicago, studying with Dr. Jonathan Pritchard, and then did three years of post-doctoral training with Dr. Matthew Hurles at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK. Before joining OHSU, Dr. Conrad was faculty at Washington University in St. Louis where he ran his own research group in the Department of Genetics, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2017.

Dr. Conrad’s early career involved pioneering work in genome-scale analysis of DNA copy number variation (CNV), during which time he played a major role in mapping CNVs for numerous international genetics consortia and published what still stands as the highest resolution array-based map of human copy number variation. As a post-doc at the Sanger Institute he led the first analysis to compare the germline mutation rate among human families using whole genome sequencing.

Dr. Conrad is currently PI on two projects funded by the NIH. The first is to continue development of DeNovoGear, a software package for detecting de novo mutations from families, tissues and single cells, funded by NHGRI. The second is the GEMINI project, an international clinical consortium focusing on the genetics of male infertility, funded by NICHD. To date, GEMINI has exome sequenced about 1,000 cases of male infertility, and is now performing functional follow-up experiments on dozens of potentially novel genetic causes of infertility using animal models. As part of his involvement in GEMINI, Don is devising statistical methods for using large databases of genetic variation to assess the statistical significance of potential causal mutations in n=1 cases of rare disease.

The Conrad lab has a special interest in testis biology and has done work on a) developing methods for multiplex in vivo functional characterization of genes in testicular germ cells using shRNA and CRISPR b) purifying testicular cell populations c) mapping functional elements of germ cells genomes d) characterizing testis pathology using single cell RNA sequencing e) investigating the role of the immune system in regulation of spermatogenesis. Some of this work will be transitioned to non-human primates in order to capitalize on the environment at ONPRC.

Education and training

    • A.B., 1999, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology - Dartmouth College
    • M.Sc., 2000, Epidemiology, Stanford School of Medicine
    • Ph.D., 2007, Human Genetics, The University of Chicago
  • Fellowship

    • Postdoctoral fellow, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK, 2007-2010

Memberships and associations:

  • American Society of Human Genetics, 2005-present
  • American Society of Andrology, 2010-present
  • Editorial board of Andrology, 2012-present
  • Editorial board of Biology of Reproduction, 2013-present
  • Editorial board of Genome Research, 2014-present
  • Society for the Study of Reproduction, 2018-present

Areas of interest

  • Human genetics
  • DNA mutation
  • Infertility
  • Genome biology of germ cells
  • Single-cell genomics

Honors and awards

  • Fulbright Specialist Grant, 2017
  • Finalist for Postdoctoral Trainee (Basic) award, ASHG, 2008
  • Best Dissertation in Biological Sciences (honorable mention), The University of Chicago, 2008


Selected publications

  • Chiang C, Scott AJ, Davis JR, Tsang EK, Li X, Kim Y, Hadzic T, Damani FN, Ganel L, GTEx Consortium, Montgomery SB, Battle A, Conrad DF, Hall IM. The impact of structural variation on human gene expression. Nat Genet. 2017 May; 49(5):692-699. PMC5406250.
  • Ho NR, Usmani AR, Yin Y, Ma L, Conrad DF. Multiplex shRNA Screening of Germ Cell Development by in Vivo Transfection of Mouse Testis. G3 (Bethesda). 2017 Jan 5;7(1):247-255. PMC5217113.
  • Wilfert AB, Chao KR, Kaushal M, Jain S, Zollner S, Adams DR, Conrad DF. Genome-wide significance testing of variation from single case exomes. Nat Genet. 2016 Dec;48(12):1455-1461. PMC5127779.
  • MacArthur DG, Manolio TA, Dimmock DP, Rehm HL, Shendure J, Abecasis GR, Adams DR, Altman RB, Antonarakis SE, Ashley EA, Barrett JC, Biesecker LG, Conrad DF, Cooper GM, Cox NJ, Daly MJ, Gerstein MB, Goldstein DB, Hirschhorn JN, Leal SM, Pennacchio LA, Stamatoyannopoulos JA, Sunyaev SR, Valle D, Voight BF, Winckler W, Gunter C. Guidelines for investigating causality of sequence variants in human disease. Nature. 2014. Apr 24;508(7497):469-476. PMC4180223.
  • Ramu A, Noordam MJ, Schwartz RS, Wuster A, Hurles ME, Cartwright RS, Conrad DF. DeNovoGear: indel and point mutation discovery and phasing. Nat Methods 2013 Oct 10(1):985-987. PMC4003501.
  • Lopes A, Aston K, Thompson E, Carvalho F, Gonçalves J, Huang N, Matthiesen R, Noordam MJ, Quintela I, Ramu A, Seabra C, Wilfert AB, Dai J, Downie JM, Fernandes S, Guo X, Sha J, Amorim A, Barros A, Carracedo A, Hu Z, Hurles ME, Moskovtsev S, Ober C, Paduch DA, Schiffman JD, Schlegel PN, Sousa M, Carrell DT, Conrad DF. Human spermatogenic failure purges deleterious mutation load from the autosomes and both sex chromosomes, including the gene DMRT1. PLoS Genetics 2013 Mar
  • Conrad DF, Keebler JE, Depristo MA, Lindsay SJ, Zhang Y, Casals F, Idaghdour Y, Hartl CL, Torroja C, Garimella KV, Zilversmit M, Cartwright R, Rouleau GA, Daly M, Stone EA, Hurles ME, Awadalla P, on behalf of the 1000 genomes project. Variation in genome-wide mutation rates within and between human families. Nat Genet. 2011 Jun 12;43(7):712-714. PMC3322360.
  • Conrad DF, Bird C, Blackburne B, Lindsay S, Mamanova L, Lee C, Turner DJ, Hurles ME. Mutation spectrum revealed by breakpoint sequencing of human germline CNVs. Nat Genet. 2010 May;42(5):385-391. PMC3428939.
  • Conrad DF, Pinto D, Redon R, Feuk L, Gokcumen O, Zhang Y, Aerts J, Andrews TD, Barnes C, Campbell P, Fitzgerald T, Hu M, Ihm CH, Kristiansson K, Macarthur DG, Macdonald JR, Onyiah I, Pang AW, Robson S, Stirrups K, Valsesia A, Walter K, Wei J; Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, Tyler-Smith C, Carter NP, Lee C, Scherer SW, Hurles ME. Origins and functional impact of copy number variation in the human genome. Nature. 2010 Apr 1;464(7289):704-712. PMC3330748
  • Conrad DF, Hurles ME. The population genetics of structural variation. Nat Genet. 2007 Jul;39(7 Suppl):S30-6. PMC2716079.


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