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Natalie D

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of California San Diego (UCSD)


Medicine, Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Genetics, Genomics, Data Science


I am a Biomedical Sciences / Bioinformatics PhD candidate at the University of California (UC) San Diego where I study highly prevalent complex metabolic disorders including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. To better understand, diagnose, and treat these diseases, I utilize human genetics to identify important disease-related genes which may be potential drug targets or may provide insights into disease mechanisms. In order to work with diverse and extremely large human genetic datasets, I apply data science techniques (data cleaning, computing, and visualization) combined with biological and clinical knowledge to uncover new genetic discoveries with implications for metabolic disease advancement. Outside of research, I enjoy several activities including rock climbing and hiking!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Identification and Prioritization of Novel Type 2 Diabetes Genes

With the advent of the internet and data sharing platforms, several public human genetic databases have been established (i.e. GWAS Catalog, Common Metabolic Disease Knowledge Portal) in which scientific researchers have deposited their research findings for others to examine. Much of this data remains under-utilized but researchers still continue to add more data to these databases. In this potential project, one could aggregate the genetic findings from type 2 diabetes studies from existing public databases to identify and prioritize novel genes of interest which may be play crucial roles in type 2 diabetes development. Such a project could also extend to different diseases, depending on the student's research interests!

Coding skills

R, python, bash

Languages I know

Chinese (beginner)

Teaching experience

While working on my PhD at UC San Diego I have mentored several undergraduates and high school students which has involved teaching them necessary skills to succeed as well as guide and support them in conducting their research projects. Additionally during my graduate education, I have served as a teaching assistant for an undergraduate bioinformatics course. Furthermore as an undergraduate student as UC Davis, I worked as a STEM tutor and mentored incoming first-year Chemistry majors on navigating college education, including coursework and finding research opportunities.


Work experience

UC San Diego (2018 - Current)
Graduate Student Researcher - Bioinformatics
Gilead Sciences (2018 - 2018)
Research Intern - Drug Metabolism
UC Davis (2016 - 2018)
STEM Tutor
UC Davis Department of Chemistry (2016 - 2018)
Undergraduate Honors Researcher


University of California Davis (UCD)
BS Bachelor of Science (2018)
Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Minor in Quantitative Biology and Bioinformatics
University of California San Diego (UCSD)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Biomedical Sciences with Specialization in Bioinformatics

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