Lina Diaz

Lina Marcela Diaz-Gallo

Assistant professor

My research line focus on the study of genetics and genomics in the context of autoimmune diseases.

About me

I have a background in biology and since very early on my career I have put emphasis on self-learning computational biology methods and data analysis. I have a broad experience in genetic epidemiology and through my postdoctoral studies I strengthened, developed and broadened my experience in genomics and data integration. I have been mostly using R and python program languages, but also implementing divers bioinformatic tools.

I really enjoy to interact with people in different settings, such as my work place where I have met excellent human beings and scientists. I recently discover that through teaching I may contribute to empower people, which is something that I envision of my professional role. Therefore, I’m investing time in improving my teaching skills and broaden my teaching experience. Together with a colleague, we organise and teach in the basic bioinformatic course.

Research description

The backbone of my research line is the study of genetics and genomics in the context of autoimmune diseases, mainly but not exclusively through bioinformatics. Nevertheless, my research line is woven into other study areas of autoimmune disease such as immunology. I have been studying  rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), systemic scleroderma (SSc), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIM). 

One of the principal projects that I developed, contributed to understand how gene-gene interactions are important for the genetic susceptibility and heritability of RA (pubmed:29967194). I am also investigating how more homogeneous subgroups of patients can be identify using different data layers (i.e. genetics, autoantibody profile, cytokines and clinical data). On other branch of my research line, I have contributed  to explore the role of CD4+ T cells in RA (pubmed:29388193), which play a important part in the pathogenesis of the disease. I have also been involved in multidisciplinary projects with pharmaceutical companies (i.e. Novo Nordisk and Pfizer) which aim to understand treatment response in RA (pubmed:  27532898).  For different aspects of the projects, I take part on the design and  hands-on wet-lab experiments, involving different molecular and cell biology techniques such as DNA/RNA extractions, ELISA and flow cytometry.

I am pursuing a better focus in translational medicine, which could contribute to the development of precision medicine in autoimmune diseases. For instance through projects that aim to identify more homogenous subgroups of SLE and IIM patients, unraveling how statistical gene-gene and gene-environment interactions are a reflexion of disease mechanisms and studying the role of T-cells in these diseases  and their involvement on treatment response using single cell technologies (i.e. flow cytometry and single cell sequencing).

Last but not least, the development of my own research line has been possible due to the collaboration with multidisciplinary researchers from other teams at the Division of Rheumatology.