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Professor Daniel Bradley is recognised as one of the world’s leaders in the use of mitochondrial DNA analysis to establish lineages of animals and humans. He has been active in population genetics and genomics since the early 1990s when his research group was one of the first to use molecular techniques to study diversity, adaptation, and biogeography in both human and domestic animal populations.

Personal Chair in Population Genetics at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics and Head of the School of Genetics and Microbiology at Trinity College, Dublin, Professor Bradley has made pioneering contributions in genomic studies in a number of key areas of research principally: ancient livestock genomics, modern livestock genomics, ancient human genomics and, in collaboration with his Trinity College Dublin colleague, Professor Orla Hardiman, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (motor neuron disease) genomics.

Professor Bradley and his team pioneered the analysis of cattle genome variation and ancient DNA (aDNA) analysis in the 1990s including showing that the origins of cattle herding in Europe lay in wholesale importation of animals from Anatolia. Recent work with consortia of archaeozoological partners published the first two extensive ancient genome analyses in cattle and goats showing mosaic origins within the primary domestication regions of the Fertile Crescent, with subsequent population mobility and admixture driven by climate change. Also, in goat this work provided the earliest direct molecular evidence for selection in any domesticated species. His imaginative use of medieval parchment, that proved an excellent substrate for livestock genomics, has contributed to sequencing the samples that lead to the first ancient pig genomes. While his lab’s sequencing of a complete dog genome from a Neolithic Newgrange sample generated the first published prehistoric domesticate genome.

Over many years, Professor Bradley has participated in the applied animal genomics community, including contributing to the analysis of the first complete reference bovine genome sequence. His group have also made significant contributions to the genetics of infectious disease susceptibility in cattle. This work has impacted the Irish cattle genetic improvement programme through estimation of sire breeding values for disease resilience.

The 2018 feature in Nature was the first major report from Professor Bradley’s Wellcome Trust Investigator Award project “Ancient genomics and the Atlantic burden” which has an ambitious aim to write a complete genomic prehistory of Ireland graced the cover page of that issue. He devised and led this work, which was a comprehensive genome survey of the Irish Neolithic and Mesolithic. This work has demonstrated that the Irish differ genetically from the English due to the existence of a land bridge which allowed free movement between Britain and the continent during the Mesolithic up to around 6200 BCE while at the same time Ireland was separated from the continent by the Irish Sea. His analysis has also shown that, based on genetic evidence of a case of high-born sibling intermarriage, some regions of Neolithic Ireland were probably organised as an elite society along the lines of pre-contact Hawai‘i, the Inca empire and ancient Egypt. His team has also identified the first evidence for chromosome 21 Trisomy or Down’s syndrome in the Neolithic, far earlier than any previous example. In the past 10 years, this work has matured into paleogenomic analysis that is revolutionising our understanding of prehistory in Europe and across the globe.

Professor Bradley has collaborated extensively with Professor Orla Hardiman, Professor of Neurology, School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin to build genomic analysis of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (motor neuron disease) in Irish patient cohorts. This work in combating this tragic disease generated 14 publications, and is now a thriving, globally connected research programme.

Over the last 30 years, Professor Bradley has built an international reputation as a pioneer and thought leader in these fields; he has published more than 170 peer reviewed publications, many in top-tier scientific journals including Nature  and Science, and his research work has attracted significant attention from international media. He has won multiple highly competitive research awards from Science Foundation Ireland, the Wellcome Trust, and the European Research Council in support of his daring and creative research.

Professor Bradley was co-founder and former director of a successful university spin-out livestock genetic testing company, IdentiGEN Ltd. The company is led by two former members of his laboratory and has facilities in Ireland, the UK, Switzerland, Germany and the United States. IdentiGEN is a leader in DNA traceability of animal products to provide assurance to customers of integrity of origin. In 2013 IdentiGEN DNA testing first revealed the horse meat scandal in the European food supply.

Elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy 2009, Professor Bradley is also a Former President (Hon) of the Irish Society of Human Genetics, and he was elected a Fellow at Trinity College Dublin 2000.

He is a member of the Scientific committee for the International Society of Biomolecular Archaeology conference, Toulouse 2021; a Member of the Teagasc Foresight Steering Committee; he was five times juror in the European Contest for Young Scientists, and he served as an expert consultant on genetic distance and biodiversity to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. Professor Bradley is also a member of the Irish Natural History Museum sampling advisory panel.

Throughout his career, Professor Bradley has prioritised the advancement of early career researchers. He has supervised 30 PhD students, all of whom have published their work. Past lab members include one Chair Professor and Dean; two Professors, three Assistant Professors, two executive directors of a successful campus start-up biotech company; eleven geneticists working in academia or industry; and the Director of Strategy at Science Foundation Ireland.

Professor Bradley’s distinctive and original research on the interface between mammalian genomics and archaeology and anthropology has attracted international recognition that is remarkable in the context of the niche that his work occupies. He has made outstanding contributions to the scientific literature that are transforming our understanding of Irish and European prehistory and the domestication and dispersal of livestock during the Neolithic transition and these significant contributions have a broad societal impact.