A photo of Tesfaye Mersha.

Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



Biography & Affiliation


Dr. Mersha is currently an associate professor at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and University of Cincinnati, where he leads the Population Genetics, Ancestry, and Bioinformatics (pGAB) Laboratory. Dr. Mersha’s research combines quantitative, ancestry and statistical genomics to unravel genetic and non-genetic contributions to complex diseases and racial disparities in human populations, particularly asthma and asthma-related allergic disorders. Much of his research is at the interface of genetic ancestry, statistics, bioinformatics, and functional genomics, and he is interested in cross-line disciplines to unravel the interplay between genome and envirome underlying asthma risk. Dr. Mersha’s laboratory carries out both computational and applied data analysis projects, including the development of statistical and genome informatics tools that enable multiethnic admixture, genome-wide association and omics integration studies of complex biomedical traits, including asthma. He is a recognized expert in the field of genetic ancestry, race, admixture mapping and mining functional genomic databases related to complex diseases.

Dr. Mersha’s team contributions include the development of: 1) AncestrySNPminer, the first web-based bioinformatics tool designed to retrieve ancestry-informative markers (AIMs) with divergent allele frequency/selection pressure from the genomic databases (Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Technology disclosure #: 2011-1105). As of March 15, 2018, over 18,506 registered users world-wide have freely accessed this tool; 2) GENEASE, an integrative omics tool used to filter functionally important variants from publicly available ‘omics’ databases such as ENCODE, GTEx, and Epigenome Roadmap; 3) SAGE, a shared ancestry genetic etiology miner tool among complex diseases and multiple racial ancestry populations; 4) AdmixPower, a power and sample size estimation for mapping genetic loci in admixed populations.

Dr. Mersha has received multiple awards and honors including 1) 2017 Faculty Research Achievement Award from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, 2) 2017 African Professionals Network (APNET) Business & Professional Achievement Award, and 3) Keystone Symposia Early Career Investigator Award. Dr. Mersha has been invited to speak at national and international conferences, and moderated a panel on use of ancestry, race and ethnicity in biomedical research at a recent NIH conference. In 2017, he was invited to speak at the NHLBI funded PRIDE meeting on the topic of “My Road to Success.” Dr. Mersha organized and led an “Omics” workshop at the 2017 AAAAI annual conference entitled: “Omics-based bioinformatics/system biology approach to allergic disorders”. Dr. Mersha is a Program Faculty member of the Immunology Graduate Program, Biomedical Informatics (BMI) Graduate Program Faculty, Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) Faculty, and Systems Biology Program Faculty, and offer lectures to graduate students at the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University.

A major focus of Dr. Mersha's laboratory has been ancestry analysis, gene-environment interactions and functional genomics of asthma and asthma-related allergic disorders. Specific ongoing research projects include the following: 1) admixture mapping to localize asthma liability genes in admixed population; 2) interaction of asthma risk variants and environmental exposures that shape racial disparities; 3) identifying genetic/regulatory networks to identify potential functional variants associated with asthma and atopic dermatitis using whole transcriptome RNA-seq profiling; 4) investigating the role of microbiome and epigenome on asthma pathogenesis among immigrants; 5) developing web-based bioinformatics tools designed to leverage and integrate multiple omics from public databases (e.g., ENCODE, Epigenome Roadmap, GTEx, GEO and 1000 Genomes Project). His career goals are to develop a program that will lead to an in-depth understanding of the complex interplay between genomic variations and environmental exposure risk factors in the etiology of complex diseases, including asthma. His ultimate goal is to translate these findings into the clinic through collaborations with clinicians.

Clinical Interests

Allergy and allergy related disorders

Research Interests

Quantitative and statistical genetics and genomics; genetic linkage, association and admixture analysis; expression analysis; network and pathway analysis; gene ontology and functional commonalities analysis

 Visit Dr Mersha's external lab website.

Academic Affiliation

Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Asthma, Global Health

Science Blog

Visualizing the Genomics of Sex-Related Differences in Asthma

Asthma and Allergy

Visualizing the Genomics of Sex-Related Differences in Asthma

Tesfaye B. Mersha, PhD8/26/2019


BS: Alemaya University, Ethiopia, 1992.

MS: Alemaya University, Ethiopia, 1996.

PhD: University of Göttingen, Germany, 2004.


Selected Publication

Genome-wide analysis revealed sex-specific gene expression in asthmatics. Gautam, Y; Afanador, Y; Abebe, T; Lopez, JE; Mersha, TB. Human Molecular Genetics. 2019; 28:2600-2614.

Ancestry specific associations of FTO gene variant and metabolic syndrome: A longitudinal ARIC study. Hardy, DS; Garvin, JT; Mersha, TB; Racette, SB. Medicine; analytical reviews of general medicine, neurology, psychiatry, dermatology, and pediatries. 2020; 99:e18820-e18820.

LEI: A Novel Allele Frequency-Based Feature Selection Method for Multi-ancestry Admixed Populations. Wathen, MJ; Gautam, Y; Ghandikota, S; Rao, MB; Mersha, TB. Scientific Reports. 2019; 9.

Precision Medicine in Allergic Disorders. Mersha, T; Hershey, G. In: Burks W; Holgate ST; O'Hehir RE; Broide DH; Bacharier LB; Hershey GK; Peebles, Jr RS, Ed. Middleton's Allergy 2-Volume Set: Principles and Practice. New York: Elsevier; 2019.

PAMAM: Power analysis in multiancestry admixture mapping. Gautam, Y; Ghandikota, S; Chen, S; Mersha, TB. Genetic Epidemiology. 2019; 43:831-843.

Interactions between environmental pollutants and genetic susceptibility in asthma risk. Johansson, H; Mersha, TB; Brandt, EB; Hershey, GK K. Current Opinion in Immunology. 2019; 60:156-162.

Every contact leaves a trace: contact with the criminal justice system, life outcomes, and the intersection with genetics. Motz, RT; Tanksley, P; Liu, H; Mersha, TB; Barnes, JC. Current Opinion in Psychology. 2019; 27:82-87.

Leveraging Multilayered "Omics " Data for Atopic Dermatitis: A Road Map to Precision Medicine. Ghosh, D; Bernstein, JA; Hershey, GK K; Rothenberg, ME; Mersha, TB. Frontiers in Immunology. 2018; 9.

GENEASE: real time bioinformatics tool for multi-omics and disease ontology exploration, analysis and visualization. Ghandikota, S; Hershey, GK K; Mersha, TB. Bioinformatics. 2018; 34:3160-3168.

African ancestry is associated with cluster-based childhood asthma subphenotypes. Ding, L; Li, D; Wathen, M; Altaye, M; Mersha, TB. BMC Medical Genomics. 2018; 11.