Michael Hofreiter, Ph.D.

Michael Hofreiter is scientific advisor for Colossal Bioscience. He is Professor for Evolutionary Adaptive Genomics at the University of Potsdam, Germany. His research focuses on paleogenomics of extinct species such as mammoth, dwarf elephants, cave bears and other Pleistocene megafauna. Michael studied biology in Munich where he met the father of ancient DNA analyses, Svante Pääbo, who was a professor at the Ludwig Maximilians University at this time. Michael followed Svante to the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig as a PhD student and received his PhD from the University of Leipzig in 2002. He continued working at the MPI EVA, first as a postdoc and, from 2005-2009, as a research group leader. In 2009, he was appointed as Professor for Evolutionary Biology and Ecology at the University of York. In 2013, he was offered his current professorship in Potsdam, where he has worked since then.


Michael has published on ancient DNA since 1998. While his interest is mainly in deciphering the evolutionary history of – mostly mammalian – species, he has also published a large number of technical studies and was among the first to apply next generation sequencing to ancient DNA. His research started on short segments of ancient DNA pieced together via PCR, but since the introduction of next generation sequencing in 2005, it has shifted more and more towards deciphering complete genomes, which allow tremendous insights into the evolution and past life of extinct creatures. Michael has worked on numerous species, but he has a special interest in cave bears and extinct elephant species (including the mammoth). Among his publications are a number of papers that resolved the phylogenetic relationship of the mammoth to the living elephants, a genomic analysis that showed that the extinct straight tusked elephant was a hybrid species, the first mitochondrial genome of an extinct dwarf elephant and the oldest genome from outside the permafrost, obtained from a 360,000 year old cave bear bone.