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David Sankoff

David Sankoff’s contributions to computational biology are notable and numerous, especially in the areas of sequence comparison and the study of RNA secondary structure. Over the last 20 years, he has focused on the evolution of genomes as the result of chromosomal rearrangement processes. Here, he introduced the computational analysis of genomic distances based both on breakpoints and on rearrangements, the distribution of gene numbers in conserved segments and gene order-based phylogeny.

Sankoff and his students are currently investigating new criteria for gene clusters, the process of paralogy reduction in ancient tetraploids, algorithms for the gene-order median and phylogeny problems, and the integration of whole genome duplication into gene-order phylogeny.

Sankoff is also well known in linguistics for his methods of studying grammatical variation and change in speech communities, the quantification of discourse analysis, production models of bilingual speech and the demolinguistics of bilingual communities.


Weldon Memorial Prize, Oxford University, 2004.

International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) Senior Scientist Achievement Award, 2003.

Canada Research Chair in Mathematical Genomics, 2002.

Relevant Publications

A. Jamshidpey, A. Jamshidpey & D. Sankoff, "Sets of medians in the non-geodesic pseudometric space of unsigned genomes with breakpoints," BMC Genomics, vol. 15, pp. S6:S3, 2014.



Advisor Genetic Networks


University of OttawaDepartment of Mathematics and Statistics


PhD McGill University

MSc McGill University

BSc McGill University



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