PROF David Balding



  • Since finishing my PhD I have worked to develop and apply mathematical/statistical/computational methods and ideas in genetics and related areas of biology. I have contributed to aspects of population, evolutionary, medical and forensic genetics.

    In forensic genetics, my principal contribution has been to develop methods to allow for coancestry effects in the interpretation of DNA profiles. Match probability formulae incorporating coancestry coefficients are often called the "Balding-Nichols formulae" following our 1994 paper. More recently I have developed methods for the interpretation of low template DNA profile evidence, initially in collaboration with John Buckleton of ESR New Zealand (2009 paper).

    The forensic match formulae are based on the multinomial-Dirichlet distribution, which I developed and applied to subpopulation allele counts. This led to the first satisfactory definition of the coancestry coefficient (Fst, or theta), and a likelihood-based approach to its estimation. Embedding this distribution in a hierarchical model allowing for subpopulation and locus effects, Mark Beaumont and I in our 2004 paper developed a widely-used approach for detecting loci subject to selection (evidenced by unusually high or low variation across subpopulations). The beta-binomial (or more generally multinomial-Dirichlet) as a distribution for simulating subpopulation allele frequencies is sometimes called the "Balding-Nichols model" following our 1995 paper.

    Mark and I, with Wenyang Zhang, wrote in 2002 a foundational paper in the field of Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC). We introduced a local linear regression adjustment which has proved very useful, but perhaps just as important we provided the first useful review of the method, that had been developed in stages by earlier authors, and promoted it as a powerful and flexible statistical technique.

    With Ian Wilson, I developed one of t   


Member of

  • Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences. Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences 2015 -
  • International Society for Forensic Genetics. Member 2014 -
  • Statistical Society of Australia. Statistical Society of Australia 2014 -
  • International Biometrics Society. Member 1990 -



Selected publications



Education and training

  • D. Phil, University of Oxford 1989


Available for supervision

  • N