Verena J. W. Schünemann

Verena J. W. Schünemann, Prof. Dr. Dr.

Institute of Evolutionary Medicine

URPP Evolution Assistant Professor

Phone: +41 44 635 05 60




We recover DNA from a wide range of ancient, historic and modern samples to better understand how humans adapted to changes in environment, diet, and pathogens. State-of-the-art techniques in ancient DNA in combination with Next Generation Sequencing are used in this context. Our major goals are to obtain new insights into host-pathogen interactions in the past as well as to trace back the evolutionary history of pathogens. Using ancient pathogen genomics, we can identify causative agents of past pandemics and contribute to the reconstruction the origins and evolution of major human infectious diseases, such as leprosy or syphilis.

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Majander K, Pfrengle S, Kocher A, Neukamm J, Plessis L, Pla-Díaz M, Arora N, Akgül G, Salo K, Schats R, Inskip S, Oinonen M, Valk H, Malve M, Kriiska A, Onkamo P, González-Candelas F, Kühnert D, Krause J, Schuenemann VJ (2020).

Ancient Bacterial Genomes Reveal a High Diversity of Treponema pallidum Strains in Early Modern Europe (

Current Biology, August 2020


Neukamm J, Pfrengle S, Molak M, Seitz A, Francken M, Eppenberger P, Avanzi C, Reiter E, Urban C, Welte B, Stockhammer PW, Teßmann B, Herbig A, Harvati K, Nieselt K, Krause J, Schuenemann VJ (2020).

2000-year-old pathogen genomes reconstructed from metagenomic analysis of Egyptian mummified individuals (

BMC Biology, August 2020


Översti S, Majander K, Salmela E, Salo K, Arppe L, Belskiy S, Etu-Sihvola H, Laakso V, Mikkola E, Pfrengle S, Putkonen M, Taavitsainen JP, Vuoristo K, Wessman A, Sajantila A, Oinonen M, Haak W, Schuenemann VJ, Krause J, Palo JU, Onkamo P. (2019).

Human mitochondrial DNA lineages in the Iron-Age Fennoscandia suggest incipient admixture and eastern introduction of farming-related maternal ancestry ( )

Scientific Reports, November 2019


Gretzinger J, Molak M, Reiter E, Pfrengle S, Urban C, Neukamm J, Blant M, Conard NJ, Cupillard C, Dimitrijević V, Drucker DG, Hofman-Kamińska E, Kowalczyk R, Krajcarz MT, Krajcarz M, Münzel SC, Peresani M, Romandini M, Rufí I, Soler J, Terlato G, Krause J, Bocherens H, Schuenemann VJ (2019).

Large-scale mitogenomic analysis of the phylogeography of the Late Pleistocene cave bear (

Scientific Reports, August 2019


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