Kayser, Manfred

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Manfred Kayser studied Biology and received his Diploma magna cum laude from the University of Leipzig in 1994. He obtained his PhD in Biology (Genetics) summa cum laude from Humboldt-University Berlin in 1998 with prior research visits at Oxford University and Leiden University Medical Center. In his doctoral work he investigated Y-chromosome polymorphisms and their applications to forensics and anthropology. Part of this work led to the introduction of Y-chromosomal DNA-analysis in forensic practice for which he received the Konrad-Händel Research Award of the German Society of Legal Medicine in 1998. He performed post-doctoral research at the Department of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University (USA) on the genetic history of human populations. He continued this work at the Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig (MPI-EVA), in Germany, where he was a staff scientist from 1999 till 2003. For instance he demonstrated that Polynesian genetic ancestry is partly Asian and partly Melanesian correcting previous views of a purely Asian origin of Pacific Islanders. In 2004, he received his formal recognition as university teacher in Genetics from the University of Leipzig (habilitation) with a thesis on genetic population history, and continued at the MPI-EVA as Heisenberg Fellow with his own research group.

As of April 2004 he is appointed as Full Professor of Forensic Molecular Biology at Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, and became the founding Head of the Department of Forensic Molecular Biology at Erasmus MC, which he built up from scratch and in 2015 was renamed Department of Genetic Identification. Here he investigates various aspects of human genetics and human molecular biology that potentially provide solutions to currently unsolvable questions in forensics and other societally relevant areas. For instance he identified genes involved in human appearance traits and developed DNA test systems to predict appearance traits for forensic and anthropological applications. Because of the success of such work, the Dutch parliament (Tweede Kamer) approved DNA-based eye colour prediction for forensic applications as of 2012, and DNA-based hair colour prediction as of 2017, both being applied in forensic casework at the Netherlands Forensic Institute with tools developed by him. His interest in human appearance goes further than gene mapping and genetic prediction and additionally concerns the functional understanding of appearance associated DNA variants. Additional research interests are in understanding genetic-geographic substructure of human populations and using such knowledge for DNA-based inference of  bio-geographic ancestry in forensic and other applications, developing biomarkers and tools for determining cellular / tissue such as for forensic application, using circadian biology for forensic time estimations, developing DNA markers for male identification in special forensic cases such as sexual assault, and using microbiome and epigenome variation for various forensic purposes.

The success of his research was internationally recognized with the Biennial Scientific Prize 2017 of the International Society for Forensic Genetics for outstanding contributions, which has been awarded to Manfred Kayser for his work related to forensic DNA phenotyping and haploid markers.

See the department website www6.erasmusmc.nl/genetic_identification for more information.


Selected overview publications:

Kayser M (2017)

Forensic use of Y-chromosome DNA: a general overview.

Human Genetics , 136(5):621-635


Kayser M (2015)

Forensic DNA Phenotyping: Predicting human appearance from crime scene material for investigative purposes.

Forensic Science International: Genetics , 18:33-48

Kayser M and de Knijff P (2011)
Improving human forensics through advances in genetics, genomics and molecular biology.
Nature Reviews Genetics, 12:179-192


Liu F, Wen B, and Kayser M (2010)

Colorful DNA polymorphisms in humans.

Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology , 24:562–575


Kayser M (2010)

The Human Genetic History of Oceania: Near and Remote Views of Dispersal.

Current Biology , 20:R194–R201,



For more including original publications, see https://www6.erasmusmc.nl/genetic_identification/publications/