Francesca Luca

Francesca Luca

Assistant Professor -Center for Molecular Medicine & Genetics and Obstetrics & Gynecology


Francesca Luca

Academic Rank

 Assistant Professor - Center for Molecular Medicine & Genetics and Obstetrics & Gynecology (Joint)


Dr. Luca's laboratory is interested in understanding the genetic and molecular basis of inter-individual and inter-population differences in complex phenotypes. They combine evolutionary and functional genomics approaches to study intermediate phenotypes (e.g.: transcription factor binding, gene expression, protein secretion, etc.) and how they are affected by gene-environment interactions. Ultimately, their goals are to: i) understand how phenotypic differences evolved as humans adapted to changing environments, ii) characterize the biological mechanisms of such phenotypic differences from a genetic to a systems level and iii) understand the genetic basis of health disparities.

A current research area aims to characterize the genetic architecture underlying phenotypic differences in nuclear receptor related pathways (e.g. estrogen receptors). Projects related to this area utilize functional genomics techniques (e.g.: ChIP-seq, RNA-seq) on samples from different human populations.


  • Luca F, Hudson RR, Witonsky D, Di Rienzo A. (2011) A reduced representation approach to population genetic analyses and applications to human evolution. Genome Research. Vol. 21:1087-98
  • Maranville JC* , Luca F*, Richards A, Wen X, Witonsky D, Baxter S, Stephens M and Di Rienzo A (2011) Interactions between glucocorticoid treatment and cis-regulatory polymorphisms contribute to cellular response phenotypes. PLoS Genetics. Vol. 7: e1002162. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002162. *These authors equally contributed to this work
  • Luca F, Perry GH, Di Rienzo A (2010) Evolutionary Adaptations to Dietary Changes. Ann. Rev. Nutrition. Vol. 30: 291-314
  • Luca F, Kashyap S, Southard C, Zou M, Witonsky D, Di Rienzo A, Conzen SD (2009) Adaptive variation regulates the expression of the human SGK1 gene in response to stress. PLoS Genet. 5:e1000489
  • Luca F, Bubba G, Basile M, Brdicka R, Michalodimitrakis E, Rickards O, Vershubsky G, Quintana-Murci L, Kozlov AI, Novelletto A (2008) Multiple Advantageous Amino Acid Variants in the NAT2 Gene in Human Populations. PLoS ONE 3(9): e3136. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003136

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Other Information

 Luca Laboratory