<figcaption> Credit: © SEAN MACLEOD PHOTOGRAPHY</figcaption>

Henrik Kaessmann is not a trained bioinformaticist. He acquired his computational skills after his PhD, on the road to uncovering the subtleties of gene origin and function, with many of his projects operating on a grand scale. Over the short evolution of his career, however, he has become one of the world's foremost bioinformatics researchers.

Kaessmann's first large-scale project was during his PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, under evolutionary geneticist, Svante Paabo. "When he first applied to be a grad student I actually turned him down; there was no space," Paabo says, "but he persisted and came back after a few months. He turned out to be one of the absolutely best students I've ever had."

At the Planck Institute, Kaessmann did groundbreaking work on mitochondrial genome variation and the origin of modern humans.1 He sequenced the...

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