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Nels Elde

Title: Professor
College: Medicine
School / Department: Human Genetics
Mentoring Philosophy:

Nels is a professor of Human Genetics and investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

He grew up in Minneapolis, the City of Lakes, along with a sister, brother, and multitude of pets.  After graduating from Carleton College with a major in Biology, Nels continued as a technician in the lab of Stephan Zweifel, pursuing genetic studies in yeast and the fungus of leaf-cutting ants.

Before entering grad school, Nels was an Associate Scientist at Medtronic, Inc., a medical device company headquartered in Minneapolis.

As a Ph.D. student in the lab of Aaron Turkewitz at the University of Chicago, his thesis research focused on molecular genetic and evolutionary studies of membrane traffic in the model ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila.

As a post-doc in the lab of Harmit Malik at the Fred Hutchinson Center, Nels developed a research program studying pathogen-driven evolution as an Ellison Medical Foundation Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation and with a NIH K99/R00 Award investigating the evolutionary potential of the model poxvirus vaccinia.

After opening the lab in July 2011, Nels was named a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, a Kavli Foundation Fellow, Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases, and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow.

Nels serves as a Reviewing Editor for eLife and an Associate Editor for PLOS Pathogens. He is a standing member of the Genetic Variation and Evolution study section at NIH and a member of the scientific advisory board for the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research.


The Elde lab uses interactions between infectious microbes and hosts to study the evolutionary process and evolutionary approaches to understand the selective forces shaping cellular pathways.