Dr. Lilia Iakoucheva obtained B.S. in genetics from Kiev State University (Kiev, Ukraine) and Ph.D. in molecular biology and immunology from the Institute of Immunology (Moscow, Russia). After completing postdoctoral training in protein biochemistry at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, WA) she joined the group of Prof. Keith Dunker to study intrinsically disordered proteins. During that time and with active Dr. Iakoucheva’s participation, the group made a series of fundamental discoveries about disordered proteins, including their role in cell signaling and cancer, the importance of disorder for post-translational modifications and for interactions with other proteins and ligands. In 2003, Dr. Iakoucheva joined the Rockefeller University (New York, NY) as a Research Assistant Professor, where she continued to investigate functional properties of disordered proteins, at the same time gradually shifting her interests into disease-oriented field. Rapid advancement in the disease gene discovery in the post-genomic era opened new avenues and opportunities for more detailed investigation of protein interaction networks and pathways underlying many human diseases. Dr. Iakoucheva became especially interested in the molecular basis of psychiatric diseases, which she began to explore using systems biology approaches. She joined the Psychiatry Department of the University of California San Diego (La Jolla, CA) as an Assistant Professor in 2010, where she continues to apply her experience in protein structure, disorder and protein-protein interactions analyses towards investigation of autism and schizophrenia. Dr. Iakoucheva has been the principal investigator on research grants from NSF, NCI, NICHD, and NIMH.
Dr. Iakoucheva’s research focuses on understanding of the molecular basis of autism and schizophrenia using systems biology approaches. Our aim is to discover functional protein interaction networks connecting seemingly unrelated candidate genes for psychiatric diseases. We are building comprehensive protein-protein interaction networks for autism and schizophrenia candidate genes and their splicing isoforms. In addition, we are integrating gene expression data with our experimentally derived networks to understand spatio-temporal dynamics of protein interactions in the brain. Our immediate goal is to investigate perturbations of the disease networks by the Copy Number Variants (CNVs) and protein-damaging Single Nucleotide Variants (SNVs) identified in the patients using the Whole Exome Sequencing (WES) studies. Additionally, we are interested in interpreting non-coding genetic variation with relevance to psychiatric diseases. We are investigating functional impact of UTR, promoter and splice site mutations identified in the Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) studies of autism and schizophrenia using in vitro cellular systems.