McMaster University


McMaster University





Hendrik Poinar


Hendrik Poinar, PhD


Associate Member
Associate Professor, Anthropology

Room 537 Chester New Hall
McMaster University
905-525-9140 ext. 26331

Dr. Poinar is currently looking for valuable biochemistry students, please contact him at the following email:

Visit Hendrik Poinar's webpage

McMaster Ancient DNA Centre



I am a molecular evolutionary geneticist and biological anthropologist by training, and rely heavily on interdisciplinary research. I use both chemical and molecular techniques to elucidate the state of preservation within forensic, archeological and paleontological remains. This information is subsequently used to devise novel techniques to extract the molecular information (DNA and/or protein sequences) which is then used to address evolutionary and anthropological questions, such as the "relatedness" of Archaic humans and Neanderthals from a genetic standpoint, sex and diet from prehistoric Native Amerindian hunter-gatherer populations using coprolites samples, and the timing and origin of HIV using archival blood and brain tissue samples.

Selected Publications

  • 2011 K. Bos, V. Schuenemann, G.B. Golding, H. Burbano, N. Waglechner, B. Coombes, J. McPhee, S. DeWitte, M. Meyer, S. Schmedes, J. Wood, D. Earn, D.A. Herring, P. Bauer, H. Poinar, J. Krause. A draft genome of Yersinia pestis from victims of the Black Death. Nature, doi:10.1038/nature10549
  • 2011. Complete Columbian mammoth mitogenome suggests interbreeding with woolly mammoths. (with Enk, J., Devault, Al., Debruyne, R., King, C., Treangen, T., O'Rourke, D., Salzberg, S., Fisher, D., and MacPhee, R.) Genome Biology, 12:R51 doi:10.1186/gb-2011-12-5-r51
  • 2011. Herald waves of cholera in 19th century London. (with Tien, J., Fisman, D., and Earn, D.) Journal of the Royal Society Interface 8(58), 756-760.
  • 2011. Ancient DNA from lake sediments: bridging the gap between palaeoecology and genetics. (with Anderson-Carpenter, L.L., McLachlan, J.S., Jackson, S.T., Kuch, M., and Lumibao, C.) BMC Evolutionary Biology11:30 1-15.
  • 2010. A quantitative assessment of the sensitivity of various commercially available reverse transcriptases on low copy number RNA levels. (with Okello, J.B.A., Rodriquez, L., Poinar, D., Bos, K., Okwi, A.L., Bimenya, G.S., Sewankambo, N.K., Henry, K.R., and Kuch, M.) PLOS-ONE 5(11), e13931.
  • 2010. A quantitative and qualitative comparison of total nucleic acid (DNA and RNA) yields from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues using ten different extraction methods. (with Okello, J., Zurek, J., Devault A., Kuch, M., Okwi, A.L., Wewankambo, N., Bimenya, G., and Poinar, D.) Analytical Biochemistry 400(1), 110-117.
  • 2010. Regional differences in bone collagen d13C and d15N of Pleistocene mammoths: implications for palaeoecology of mammoth steppe. (with Szpak, P., Grocke, D., Debruyne, R., MacPhee, R., Guthrie, D., Froese, D., and Zazula, G.) Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, and Palaeoecology 286, 88-96.
  • 2009. A quantitative approach to detect and overcome PCR inhibition in ancient DNA extracts. (with King, C., Debruyne, R., Kuch, M., and Schwarz C.) Biotechniques 47(5), 351-356.
  • 2009. New insights from old bones: DNA preservation and degradation in permafrost preserved mammoth remains. (with Schwarz, C., Debruyne, R., Kuch, M., McNally, E., Schwarcz, H., Aubrey, A., and Bada, J.) Nucleic Acids Research 37(10), 3215-3229.
  • 2009. Time-dependency of molecular rates in ancient DNA datasets, a sampling artefact? (with Debruyne, R.) Systematic Biology 58(3),348-60
  • 2003. Molecular caving. (with Hofrieter, M., Mead J., and Martin, P.S.) Current Biology. 13, 693-695.
  • 2003. Nuclear gene sequences from a Late Pleistocene sloth coprolite. (with Kuch, M., McDonald, G., Martin, P.S. and Paabo, S.) Current Biology 13, 1150-1152.
  • 2002. The genetic secrets some fossils hold. Accounts of Chemical Research, 35, 676-84.
  • 2001. Molecular analyses of oral polio vaccine samples. (with Kuch, M. and Paabo, S.) Science 292, 743-744.
  • 2001. A molecular analyses of the dietary diversity for three archaic native americans. (With Kuch, M., Sobolik, K., Barnes, I., Stankiewicz, B.A., Spaulding, G., Bryant, V., Cooper, A. & Paabo S.) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 98, 4317-4322.
  • 2000. Ancient DNA: Do it right or not at all. (with A. Cooper) Science 289, 1139.
  • 1998. Molecular Coproscopy: Dung and Diet from of the extinct ground sloth Nothrotheriops shastensis. (with Hofreiter, M., Spaulding, G., Martin, P.S., Stankiewicz, A. B., Bland, H. Evershed, R. P., Possnert, G., Paabo, S.) Science 281, 402-406.
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