Esteban Parra

Professor and Chair, Mississauga Campus (UTM)
HSC 352
(905) 828-3889


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

Research Keywords: Biological & Molecular Anthropology; human evolution; genetic variation within and between human populations; human adaptation; genetic architecture of complex traits and diseases

Research Region: Americas, East Asia, Europe, South Asia


Dr. Esteban J. Parra is a molecular anthropologist interested in the application of genetic markers to answer questions related to the evolution of human populations and to identify the genetic risk factors involved in complex diseases (e.g. type 2 diabetes). A major focus of his research has been devoted to the identification of the genetic mechanisms involved in the adaptation of human populations to different environments. Work in this area includes research on the evolution and genetic basis of skin pigmentation, a trait showing extensive geographic variation in human populations, and studies exploring adaptation to altitude in the Andean region. Dr. Parra has also investigated the seasonal variation of vitamin D levels in individuals of diverse ancestry living in the Greater Toronto Area. Finally, another component of his research has been the study of admixture, the process of mixing of human populations. He has investigated extensively the admixture process that took place in the Americas since the 15th century.


Ph.D. (University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 1993)


For a complete list of publications, including relevant pdf files, please go to Researchgate, or GoogleScholar

2015. Eaton K, Edwards M, Krithika S, Cook G, Norton H, Parra EJ. 2015. Association study confirms the role of two OCA2 polymorphisms in normal skin pigmentation variation in East Asian populations. Am. J. Hum. Biol. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22678

2014.  Torres JM, Gamazon ER, Parra EJ, Below JE, Valladares-Salgado A, Wacher N, Cruz M, Hanis CL, Cox NJ. Cross-tissue and tissue-specific eQTLs: partitioning the heritability of a complex traitAm. J. Hum. Genet. 95: 521-534.

2014.  Marcheco-Teruel B, Parra EJ, Fuentes-Smith E, Salas A, Buttenschøn HN, Demontis D, Torres-Español M, Marín-Padrón LC, Gómez-Cabezas EJ, Álvarez-Iglesias V, Mosquera-Miguel A, Martínez-Fuentes A, Carracedo A, Børglum AD, Mors O. Cuba: Exploring the history of admixture and the genetic basis of pigmentation using autosomal and uniparental markers. PLoS Genetics 10:e1004488.

2013. Ascencio-Montiel IJ, Parra EJ, Valladares-Salgado A, Gomez-Zamudio JH, Kumate-Rodriguez J, Escobedo-De la Pena J, Cruz M. SOD2 gene VAl16Ala polymorpohism is associated with macroalbuminuria in Mexican Type 2 Diabetes patients: a comparative study and meta-analysisBMC Medical Genetics 14:110.

2012. Beleza S, Dos Santos AM, McEvoy B, Alves I, Martinho C, Cameron E, Shriver MD, Parra EJ, Rocha J. The timing of pigmentation lightening in Europeans. Mol. Biol. Evol. 30:24-35.

2012. Galanter JM, Fernandez JC, Gignoux CR, Barnholtz-Sloan J, Fernandez C, Via M, Hidalgo-Miranda A, Contreras AV, Uribe Figueroa L, Raska P, Jimenez-Sanchez G, Silva Solezzi I, Torres M, Ruiz Ponte C, Ruiz Y, Salas A, Nguyen E, Eng C, Borjas L, Zabala W, Barreto G, Rondon F, Ibarra A, Taboada P, Porras L, Moreno F, Bigham A, Gutierrez G, Brutsaert T, Leon Velarde F, Moore L, Vargas E, Cruz M, Escobedo J, Rodriguez-Santana J, Rodriguez-Cintron W, Chapela R, Ford JG, Bustamante C, Seminara D, Shriver M, Ziv E, Gonzalez Burchard E, Parra EJ, Carracedo A. Development of a panel of genome-wide ancestry informative markers to study admixture throughout the Americas. PLoS Genetics 8:1002554.

2011. Parra EJ, Below JE, Krithika S, Valladares A, Barta JL, Cox NJ, Hanis CL, Wacher N, Garcia-Mena J, Hu P, Shriver MD, The DIAGRAM Consortium, Kumate J, McKeigue PM, Escobedo J, Cruz M. Genome-wide association study of type 2 diabetes in a sample from Mexico City and meta-analysis with a Mexican American sample from Starr County, TX. Diabetologia 54:2038-2046.

2010. Gozdzik A, Barta JL, Weir A, Cole DEC, Vieth R, Whiting SJ, Parra EJ.  Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations fluctuate seasonally in young adults of diverse ancestry living in Toronto. J. Nutr. 140:2213-2220.

2010. Bigham A, Bauchet M, Pinto D, Mao X, Akey JM, Mei R, Scherer SW, Julian CG, Wilson MJ, Lopez-Herraez D, Brutsaert T, Parra EJ, Moore LG, Shriver MD. Identifying signatures of natural selection in Tibetan and Andean populations using dense genome scan data. PLoS Genetics 6: e1001116.

2007. Parra EJ. Human pigmentation variation: evolution, genetic basis, and implications for public health. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. Suppl 45:85-105.

2007. Mao X, Bigham AW, Mei R, Gutierrez G, Weiss KM, Brutsaert TD, Leon-Velarde F, Moore LG, Vargas E, McKeigue PM, Shriver MD, Parra EJ.  A genome-wide admixture mapping panel for Hispanic/Latino populations. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 80:1171-1178.

2005. Lamason RL, Mohideen M, Mest JR, Wong AC, Norton HL, Aros MC, Jurynec M, Mao X, Humphreville VR, Humbert JE, Sinha S, Moore JL, Jagadeeswaran P, Zhao W, Ning G, Makalowska I, McKeigue P, O’Donnell DO, Kittles R, Parra EJ, Mangini NJ, Grunwald DJ, Shriver MD, Canfield VA, Cheng KC. SLC24A5, a putative cation exchanger, affects pigmentation in zebrafish and humans. Science 310: 1782-1786.

2004. Parra EJ, Kittles RA, Shriver MD. Implications of correlations between skin color and genetic ancestry for biomedical research. Nat. Genet. 36 Suppl 1:S54-S60.

1998. Parra EJ, Marcini A, Jin L, Akey J, Martinson J, Batzer M, Cooper R, Forrester T, Allison D, Deka R, Ferrell RE, Shriver MD. Estimating African American Admixture Proportions by use of Population-Specific Alleles. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 63:1839-1951.

Graduate Students

Graduate Student Publications