University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
College of Biological Sciences

Professor James W. Curtsinger

Ph.D., Stanford University, 1978
Phone: 612-624-6746 Fax: 612-624-6777

Graduate Faculty Memberships

Conservation Biology; Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior; Gerontology

Research Interests

Genetics of aging; Experimental and theoretical population genetics; frequency-dependent selection; fitness in Drosophila.


I have been fascinated by research involving genetics and microevolution since my sophomore year in college. The main focus of our research concerns the genetic basis of aging, and the demography of Drosophila, with a major goal of identifying specific genes that influence the aging process. On the theoretical side, I study genetic models of frequency-dependent selection. These models are relevant to questions such as "What selective forces have influenced the evolution of female mating preferences?" and "How do the details of genetic inheritance constrain adaptation?". In some cases analytical answers came directly from the mathematical models, but often the models demand study by computer simulation. On the experimental side, I use Drosophila as a model system. Artificial selection experiments tell us about how population size and structure influence the response to selection, what factors limit the total response, and how genetic correlations between characters influence microevolutionary change.

Selected Publications

Khazaeli, A. A. and J. W. Curtsinger (2012). Pleiotropy and life history evolution in Drosophila melanogaster: Uncoupling life span and early fecundity. Journals of Gerontology A, Biol Sci. doi:10.1093/gerona/gls226.

Curtsinger, J. W. (2010) Darwin in the Pumpkin Patch, in Evolution Emerging: Essays by Leading Evolutionary Biologists, J. Lesos ed., Ben Roberts Publishing.

Khazaeli, A. A. and J. W. Curtsinger (2010). Life history variation in an artificially selected population of Drosophila melanogaster: Pleiotropy, superflies, and age-specific adaptation. Evolution. 64:3409-3416.

Curtsinger, J. W., N. S. Gavrilova, and L. A. Gavrilov (2006) Biodemography of aging and age-specific mortality in Drosophila melanogaster. In Handbook of the Biology of Aging, 6^th Ed", E. Masoro and S. Austad, eds. pp 267-281.

Nuzhdin, S.V., A. A. Khazaeli, and J. W. Curtsinger (2005) Survival analysis of life span QTLs in Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics 170:719-731.

Khazaeli, A.A., W. Van Voorhies, and J.W. Curtsinger (2005). Longevity and metabolism in Drosophila melanogaster: genetic correlations between life span and age-specific metabolic rate in populations artificially selected for long life. Genetics: 169:231-242.

Van Voorhies, W., A. A. Khazaeli, and J. W. Curtsinger (2003) Selected contribution: Long-lived Drosophila melanogaster exhibit normal metabolic rates. J. Applied Physiology 95:2605-2613.

Vaupel, J. W. ,  & J. W. Curtsinger (1998) Biodemographic trajectories of longevity. Science 280:855-860.

Pletcher, S. D., D. Houle, and J. W. Curtsinger (1998) Age-specific properties of spontaneous mutations affecting mortality in Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics 148:287-303