Valeria Velasquez Zapata

Graduate Research Assistant, Wise Lab
Photo of Valeria Velasquez Zapata

I am a Fulbright student from Colombia. I have two BSc, one of them in Biology and the other in Biological Engineering. Additionally, I have an MSc in Biomedical Research. While I was an undergraduate student of biological engineering and biology, I developed skills to make mathematical models different types of systems, and I could explain life and different biological mechanisms at the most fundamental molecular level. Among biological phenomena, I am interested in cell functioning, and the interactions that allow life or disease to emerge, by the use of systems biology approaches. I am interested in the study of pathogenic organisms through the combination of mathematical modelling and experimental approaches, analyzing high-throughput data, or analyzing genomic variation, to understand what factors underlie disease emergence, host susceptibility and pathogenic mechanisms that finally lead to new therapeutic strategies.


I already have several experiences in developing research projects that reflect my interests in science. Just to mention some of them I had the opportunity of working on a project that aimed to genotype clinical isolates of Fusarium. I also developed my undergraduate thesis, modelling a signaling pathway of Leishmania as a target for drug search. In this project, I undertook two methodologies within computational biology: (1) I used bioinformatics to describe and analyze the signaling system, and then, (2) from that information I developed a boolean mathematical model that simulated the system functioning under different conditions, including those in which different sets of proteins were turned-off.

During my master thesis “splicing functional analysis of DNA variants within the breast cancer type 2 susceptibility gene (BRCA2), and its effect on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC): a hybrid minigene approach”, I aimed to assess splicing variants involvement in the genetic susceptibility to HBOC, by a bioinformatic analysis and mRNA functional assays through a hybrid minigene strategy. Currently I am working as a professional researcher at Corpoica, the Colombian Corporation for Agricultural Research, assessing the genetic variability of avocado to give rise to a breeding program in the country.

In my spare time, I like dancing, horse riding and walking.

Area of Expertise: 
pathogenic organisms
mathematical modeling
B.S., Biology and Biological Engr., Universidad de Antioquia, Medellin Colombia
M.S., Biomedical Research, Universidad de Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain