Courtney C. Babbitt

Associate Professor of Biology and Commonwealth Honors College

Photograph of First Last
(413) 545-5574
362 Morrill IV South

B.A., Columbia University, 1999 Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2005


Duke University, 2006 - 2013

Research Interests: 

Evolutionary Genomics

My research is in evolutionary genomics and I am interested in changes in gene regulation over evolutionary time that impact phenotypic change. In particular, I investigate the evolution of cis-regulatory elements, the evolution of gene expression, and noncoding RNA at a genome-wide scale. I am also interested in functionally testing specific rapidly evolving cis-regulatory regions. My current research addresses these essential questions in evolutionary biology as they relate to genetic and phenotypic differences between humans and non-human primates. I integrate both computational and experimental approaches to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the functional changes involved in regulatory evolution and how they contribute to phenotypic evolution.

Representative Publications: 

Babbitt, C.C., Tung, J, Wray, G.A., Alberts, S.C. 2012. Changes in gene expression associated with reproductive maturation in wild female baboons. Genome Biology and Evolution, 4(2): 102-109.

Shibata, Y., Sheffield, N., Fedrigo, O., Babbitt, C.C., Wortham, M., Tawari, A.K., London, D., Song, L., Lee, B., Iyer, V.R., Parker, S.C., Margulies, E.H., Wray, G.A., Furey, T.S., Crawford, G.E. 2012. Extensive evolutionary changes in regulatory element activity during human origins are closely associated with altered gene expression and positive selection. PLoS Genetics, 8(6): e1002789.

Runcie, D.E., Garfield, D.A., Babbitt, C.C., Wygoda, J.A., Mukherjee, S., Wray, G.A. 2012. Genetics of temperature stress responses in a sea urchin gene regulatory network. Molecular Ecology, 21(18): 4547-4562.

Babbitt, C.C., Warner, L.R., Fedrigo, O., Wall, C.E., Wray, G.A. 2011. Genomic signatures of diet-related shifts in primate evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 278: 961-969.

Pfefferle, A.D., Warner, L.R., Wang, C.W., Babbitt, C.C., Fedrigo, O.D., Wray, G.A. 2011. Comparative expression analysis of the phosphocreatine circuit in extant primates: Implications for human brain evolution. Journal of Human Evolution, 60: 205-212.

Fedrigo O., Pfefferle, A.D., Babbitt, C.C., Haygood, R., Wall, C.E., and Wray, G.A. (2011). A potential role for glucose transporters in the evolution of human brain size. Brain, Behavior and Evolution. 78: 315-326.

Babbitt, C.C., Fedrigo O., Pfefferle A.D., Boyle, A., Horvath J.E., Furey T.S., Wray, G.A. 2010. Both coding and noncoding RNAs contributed to the evolution of gene expression in primate brains. Genome Biology and Evolution, 2010: 67-79.

Babbitt, C.C., Silverman, J.S., Haygood, R., Reininga-Croker, J. M. Rockman, M.V., and Wray, G.A. 2010. Multiple functional variants in cis modulate PDYN expression. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 27(2): 465-479.

Haygood, R., Babbitt, C.C., Fedrigo, O., and Wray, G.A. 2010. Contrasts between adaptive coding and noncoding changes during human evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(17): 7853-7857.

Cruz-Gordillo, P., Fedgrio, O., Wray, G.A., and Babbitt, C.C. 2010. Extensive changes in the expression of the opioid genes between humans and chimpanzees. Brain, Behavior, and Evolution, 76: 154-162.

Fedrigo, O., Warner, L.R., Pfefferle, A.D., Babbitt, C.C., Cruz-Gordillo, P. and Wray, G.A. 2010. A pipeline to determine RT-QPCR control genes for evolutionary studies: application to primate gene expression across multiple tissues. PLoS One, 5(9): e12545.

Warner, L.R., Babbitt, C.C., Primus, A.E., Severson, T.F, Wray, G.A. 2009. The functional consequences of genetic variation on tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) expression in vivo. Brain Research, 1288: 1-8.

Wray, G.A. and Babbitt, C.C. 2008. Enhancing Gene Regulation. Science , Vol. 321 (5894), 1300-1301.

Babbitt, C.C. and Wray, G.A. 2008. Evolution of Human Gene Expression Control. In: Encyclopedia Of Life Sciences. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester.

Babbitt, C.C., Haygood R., and Wray, G.A. 2007. When Two Is Better Than One. Cell, Vol 131, 225-227.

Tishkoff , S.A., Reed, F.A, Ranciaro, A, Voight, B.F., Babbitt, C.C., Silverman J.S., Powell, K, Mortensen, H.M., Hirbo, J.B., Osman, M., Ibrahim, M., Omar, S.A., Lema, G., Nyambo, T.B., Ghori, J., Bumpstead, S., Pritchard, J.K., Wray, G.A. & Deloukas, P. 2007. Convergent adaptation of human lactase persistence in Africa and Europe. Nature Genetics, 39: 31 - 40.