Natalia Acevedo-Luna

Graduate Assistant Research / Teaching, Hofmann Lab
Natalia Acevedo-Luna

I am interested in the study of early development gene regulatory networks and their role in animal form and function using a marine worm model system, the annelid Platynereis dumerilii. My research includes the design of computational tools for the analysis of NGS data in order to assess patterns in gene expression, and in the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms during early asymmetric cell divisions.



National Institutes of Health, National Center for Biotechnology Information, NCBI. Computational Biology Branch. April 2011 to Present.

  • Project: Aims to identify the relationship between the binding site positions of transcription factors within a regulatory module and their function. Presently working to develop a computer program to categorize Transcription Factor Binding Sites (TFBS) motif according to positional preference, and to implement statistical methods to discover combinations of TFBS motifs in cis-regulatory modules in the human genome.


Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, GeBiX: Colombian Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics of Extreme Environments, Research assistant with Jose Salvador Montana, February 2010 to March 2011.


  • Project: “Molecular characterization of Sclerotium cepivorum strains associated with garlic crops in three of the major production zones in Colombia”. Sponsored by the Colombian Government through a grant from the Ministry of Agricultural and rural development under the project: “Technology innovation to improve garlic competitiveness in the national market”. Aimed to assess the genetic diversity of different strains of the phito-pathogen fungi Sclerotium cepivorum in order to design better strategies to control the fungi pest in garlic crops. My participation in the project involved bench laboratory work as well as computational approaches.


NIH, National Center for Biotechnology Information, Computational Biology Branch, Undergraduate Internship with Dr. David Lansman and Dr. Leonardo Marino, Fall 2006.

  • Project: "Identification and localization of beta-Globin cluster regulatory sequences in different species". I developed novel computational approaches to identify regulatory elements of the Beta globin genes in different species. The project involved handling of databases and phylogenetic analysis. Our findings generated interesting conclusions about the evolutionary pattern of the regulatory mechanisms in the Beta globin cluster.


Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (PUJ) in Bogota, Colombia, Human Genome Institute, Undergraduate internship with Dr. Jaime Bernal, January 2005 to August 2006.

  • Project: "Molecular Characterization of Carollia Bats Populations across an altitudinal gradiant". Evaluated the gene flow between isolated populations of Carollia perspicillata and Carollia castanea bats along a braod range of altitudinal distriution using microsatellite markers. The project involved taxonomic identification of Carollia bats, siolation of DNA from different tissues, amplification of heterologous VNTR DNA regions, Agarose and Acrylamide Electrophoresis, Population Genetics and Phylogenetic analysis using Arlequin software. The results were published and shared in the intramural research meeting at the Institute.



After finishing my undergraduate studies, I worked as a middle school and high school science teacher in Bogota. During my teaching tenure, I founded a Science Club for middle and high school students. I also designed extracurricular laboratory workshops and small research projects to engage early aged students into the scientific method and to demystify science.

  • Chemistry teacher. February 2009 to December 2009. I taught courses pertaining to the chemical and physical properties and compositional changes of substances. I also designed a curriculum that included research activities to reinforce basic knowledge of Chemistry, Physics and Biology.
  • Science Teacher. January 2007 to November 2008. I designed and guided science laboratory workshops to engage students in short-term science projects. I established the student interest group, "Science Talented Students".




  • Acevedo N, Hernandez J, Bernal J, 2004. Filogenia y Evolucion de los Cromosomas Humanos. El Astrolabio. Vol 4 No.1 June-December 2004 (publication in Spanish).
  • Acevedo-Luna N , 2009. Identificacion y Localizacion de Secuencias de Regulacion de la Familia de Genes de |2-Globina en Diferentes Especies - Abstract. In [X Congreso La Investigacion en la Pontificia Universidad Javeriana: Resumentes. Compiladora Doris Morales Alarcon. - 1ra Ed. Bogota: Editiorial Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, 2009] (publication in Spanish)


Interests: I like hiking and I really enjoy photography.

Area of Expertise: 
Transcriptional Profiling
Gene Regulation
functional prediction
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
B.S Biology. Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Bogota, Colombia
Ph.D Student. Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. Iowa State University.
Office: 533 / Laboratory: 515, 517 Science Hall II. Iowa State University