Zeberg laboratory - Research focus

We study gene flow from Neandertals and Denisovans into modern humans. In addition, we are interested in genetic variability in general, and the functional consequences thereof, particularly for membrane-bound proteins such as receptors and ion channels.

Other topics of interest include pharmacogenetics and the genetic predisposition to infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.

Our approaches include both bioinformatics and functional studies.

Research projects

Functional understanding of genetic risk factor for COVID-19 

In this project we are trying to reveal why some of the most important genetic risk factors for COVID-19 increase the risk of severe disease. We are studying these genetic variants both in-vitro and how they present themselves in patients carrying these variants. 

Genetic risk factors inherited from archaic humans

Modern humans met Neandertals, and their Asian cousins Denisovans, approximately 60 000 years ago. As a consequence, present day people with roots outside Africa carry genetic variants inherited from these archaic humans. In this project we are studing the functional consequence of this genetic inheritance.

Genetic variability of genes encoding G-protein coupled receptors and enzymes

Using in-vitro techniques such as the Xenopus oocytes expression system and fluorescence based assays, we are trying to link mutations primarily affecting the protein sequence to functional consequences. 

Research support

  • Swedish Research Council
  • European Research Council (EU Horizon 2020, Extraordinary Call for Proposals for Access Projects related to the COVID-19 crisis)
  • Jeanssons Stiftelser
  • Magnus Bergvalls Stiftelse
  • Karolinska Institutet


  • Prof. Svante Pääbo, Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany
  • Prof. Brent Richards, McGill University, Canada
  • Prof. Sam Wilson, Glasgow University
  • Asst. prof. Michael Hultström, Uppsala University
  • Adjunct senior lecturer Robert Frithiof, Uppsala University

Doctoral theses/Dissertations

Hugh Robinson, 1988

"A study of single potassium channels in mammalian cerebellar neurones"

Kristoffer Sahlholm, 2011

"Voltage sensitivity of dopamine D2-like receptors"

Hugo Zeberg, 2015

"Conductance-based principles of neuronal firing and excitability"

Richard Ågren, 2020

"Electrophysiology-based investigations of G protein-coupled receptor pharmacology"