Petar Pajic

Ph.D. Candidate, University at Buffalo
Evolutionary & Anthropological Genomics | Structural Variants
Department of Biological Sciences

College of Arts and Sciences

Contact Information

H520 Hochstetter Hall, Buffalo NY, 14260, Phone: (716) 645-6243,
Twitter | LinkedIn | Website


  • B.S. Biological Sciences w/ Pre-Health Concentration, University at Buffalo
  • M.S. Biological Sciences, University at Buffalo

Research Statement

Petar’s work is tied to understanding how novel structural variants, “variable number tandem repeats” in particular, can create/change gene function. He has explored this by looking at “mucins” (mew-sins), sugar-coated proteins that make mucus for lubrication, cell communication, and barrier against the environment and pathogens. Mucins have variable number tandem repeat domains that give the mucin function. Petar found that these regions can evolve from non-mucin genes, through gains of repeats, thus broadly providing a novel model of new gene function evolution.

He is generally curious on how common structural variants contribute to evolution and disease susceptibility, and if there are certain evolutionary tradeoffs that exist, where some structural mutations may provide a benefit in one tissue, and negative health consequences in another, thus maintaining certain levels of variation in the human population.

Google Scholar Page | Curriculum Vitae

Quick Bio

Petar is of Serbian descent, more specifically from the Serbian “Krajina” region. He was born and raised in Buffalo, NY and is a first-generation American and college student. Petar is fluent in Serbian, and is heavily involved in his Serbian Orthodox Church community. He is also a true Buffalonian and loves his Buffalo Bills.

Selected Publications

5. Veilleux C.C.*, Garrett, E.C.*, Pajic, P.*, Saitou, M., Dominy, N.J., Perry, G.H., Gokcumen, O., Melin, A.D. (2023) Human subsistence and signatures of selection on chemosensory genes. Communications Biology, 6(683), [Co-First Author, IF: 6.5]

4. Pajic, P., Shen, S., Qu, J., May, A. J., Knox, S., Ruhl, S., & Gokcumen, O. (2022). A mechanism of gene evolution generating mucin function. Science Advances, 8(34), eabm8757. [First Author, IF:14.14]

3. Barnard, K. N., Alford-Lawrence, B. K., Buchholz, D. W., Wasik, B. R., LaClair, J. R., Yu, H.,Honce, R., Ruhl, S., Pajic, P., Daugherity, E. K., Chen, X., Schultz-Cherry, S. L., Aguilar, H. C.,Varki, A., & Parrish, C. R. (2020). Modified Sialic Acids on Mucus and Erythrocytes Inhibit Influenza A Virus Hemagglutinin and Neuraminidase Functions. Journal of Virology, 94(9),e01567-19  [IF:6.2]

2. Pajic, P., Pavlidis, P., Dean, K., Neznanova, L., Daugherity, E., Romano R-A., Garneau, D., Globig, A., Ruhl, S., Gokcumen, O. (2019). Independent amylase gene copy number bursts correlate with dietary preferences in mammals. eLife. 8:e44628 [First Author, Highlighted by an editorial, IF:8.7].

1. Pajic P.*, Lin Y-L.*, Xu D., Gokcumen, O. (2016). The psoriasis-associated deletion of late cornified envelope genes LCE3B and LCE3C has been maintained under balancing selection since Human Denisovan divergence. BMC Ecology and Evolution 16 (1), 265 [First Author, IF:3.26].

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