Photo of Paola  Vera-Licona, Ph.D.

Paola Vera-Licona, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor/Basic Science
Academic Office Location:
Center for Quantitative Medicine
UConn Health
263 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06030-6033
Phone: 860-679-7625
Fax: 860-679-7522

Systems Biology Graduate Program

The Vera-Licona Research Group

B.S.Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM)Mathematics
M.S.Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityMathematics
Ph.D.Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityMathematics

Post-Graduate Training
PostdoctoralRutgers UniversityPostdoctoral Research Fellow The Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS), The Biology at the Interface with the Mathematical and Physical Sciences (BioMaPS) Institute and the Mathematics Department. Project: Development and application of algorithms for the reverse-engineering of biological networks.
PostdoctoralInstitute CuriePostdoctoral Research Fellow “Bioinformatics and Computational Systems Biology of Cancer”. Research collaboration between Institute Curie and French pharmaceutical company Servier for the discovery and development of triple negative breast cancer drug therapies.

Name of Award/HonorAwarding Organization
Winner at the 2022 Interstellar Initiative Alumni Program CompetitionNew York Academy of Sciences & Japan Agency for Medical Research and Devel.
Outstanding Team Presentation at the 2017 Interstellar Initiative for Early Career InvestigatorsJapan Agency for Medical Research Development &New York Academy of Sciences
2010 International Challenge “The DREAM 5 Network Inference". Honorable Mention, 2nd place, Challenge 4, Category In-Silico.The DREAM (Dialogue for Reverse Eng Assessments and Methods) Initiative
Scholarship to pursue master’s degree in Mathematics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (August 2001- June 2003).National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT)
Scholarship for the completion of undergraduate thesis project (September 2000-July 2001). UNAM, Mexico.General Directorate for Affairs of Academic Personnel, UNAM
Scholarship to pursue research internship at the Mathematics Institute, campus Morelia, UNAM, Mexico, Summer 1998.National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT)
Scholarship to pursue a summer research internship at the School of Marine Sciences and Limnology, Mazatlan, UNAM, Mexico, Summer 1996.Scientific Research Coordination, UNAM
Nationwide honor award for outstanding pre-college performance with highest overall grades. Mexico, September 1996.Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM)
Scholarship to pursue a summer research internship at the Chemistry School, UNAM. Mexico, Summer 1995.Scientific Research Coordination, UNAM
Name & DescriptionCategoryRoleTypeScopeStart YearEnd Year
The 22nd International Conference of Systems Biology (ICSB 2023)Workshop/ConferenceOrganizing Committee and Chair of Miscellaneous SectionExternalInternational20232023
Nature Communications JournalProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational20222022
NCI P01 Program ProjectStudy SectionReviewerExternalNational20212021
NatureProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational20212022
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)Study SectionReviewerExternalNational20202020
Panel reviewer at the 2020 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) CompetitionStudy SectionReviewerExternalNational20202020
Neurogenesis and Cell Fate (NCF) NIH Study SectionStudy SectionReviewerExternalNational20192019
21st International Conference for Systems Biology 2020Workshop/ConferenceMember of Organizing CommitteeExternalInternational20192020
NetSci 2017: International School and Conference on Network ScienceAdvisory CommitteeProgram Committee MemberExternalInternational20172017
18th International Congress of Animal Reproduction: ICARAdvisory CommitteeScientific program committee memberExternalInternational20162016
PLOS Computational BiologyEditorial BoardGuest EditorExternalInternational2016
ACSB 2015: A Conference on Algebraic and Combinatorial Approaches in Systems BiologyWorkshop/ConferenceOrganizerExternalNational20152015
12th Conference on Computational Methods in Systems BiologyAdvisory CommitteeReviewerExternalInternational20142014
NIH/NIGMS Panel ReviewProfessional/Scientific OrganizationPanel ReviewerExternalNational20142014
Institute for Systems Genomics Networking WorkshopOtherMember of the organizing committeeUConn HealthUniversity20142014
Workshop "Software Development on Parameter Estimation for Boolean models of biological networks". The Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS), New Jersey, USAWorkshop/ConferenceOrganizerExternalNational20092009
Workshop "Model your genes the mathematical way II". The Institute for Advance Learning and Research (IARL), VA USAWorkshop/ConferenceCo-directorExternalNational20062006
The Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Student Chapter at Virginia TechProfessional/Scientific OrganizationPresidentExternalUniversity20052007
Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) Mentor NetworkProfessional/Scientific OrganizationMentorExternalNational2005
IEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics journalProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational
PLOS Computational Biology journalProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational
Journal of Mathematical BiologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational
Journal of Theoretical BiologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational
IET Systems Biology journalProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational
Biosystems journalProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational
PLOS One journalProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational
Bioinformatics journalProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational
BMC BioinformaticsProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational
BMC Systems BiologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational

Our research group works on a variety of problems within the fields of computational systems medicine, computational systems biology, mathematical biology and bioinformatics. We focus on the design and application of mathematical algorithms for the modeling, simulation and control of biological networks such as gene regulatory networks, intracellular signaling networks and functional brain networks. While the mathematical and computational tools we employ are varied, many of the approaches we develop have a flavor of fields such as discrete mathematics (graph theory and combinatorics), algebra, computational algebra as well as machine learning and network science.

Mathematical and Computational Biology research interests: Computational Systems Biology of Cancer, reverse-engineering of biological networks, network science, development and application of algorithms for mathematical modeling and analysis of biological networks, and discovery and development of combinations of targeted therapies

Mathematics and computer science research interests: mathematical modeling, finite dynamical systems, polynomial dynamical systems, combinatorics, graph theory, computational algebra and machine learning.

We welcome students (undergraduate and graduate) for summer and semester rotations and internships under the several sponsored projects at UConn Health, UConn and other institutions. All available projects are in computational systems biology and systems medicine. The participation in the projects are tailored to the students' background and knowledge expertise although is expected that students are interested in projects with a quantitative, computational and/or programming related work. We also welcome students interested in pursuing their own ideas and where the expertise of our lab can serve as a launching platform.

Accepting Lab Rotation Students: Summer 2022, Fall 2022, and Spring 2023

We have available short and long-term projects including: development of modeling and analysis tools and algorithms of regulatory networks, the analysis of multi-omics data in cancer such as triple negative breast cancer and acute myeloid leukemia and cell-reprogramming event in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

Journal Articles

Book Chapters

Conference Papers

  • Systems Identification for discrete polynomial models of gene regulatory networks
    Laubenbacher R., Jarrah A.S. Dimitrova E., Stigler B. and Vera-Licona P. 15th IFAC Symposium on System Identification, St. Malo, France. 2009 Jan;


Title or AbstractTypeSponsor/EventDate/YearLocation
Environmental and signaling factors regulating transcriptional dynamics of HIF-1 within a tumor microenvironmentTalk2024American Mathematical Society (AMS) Joint Mathematics Meetings, San Francisco, CA
Network-Based cell reprogramming: tools and applicationsTalkMexican Biology and Mathematics Network (RedMexBiomate)2023Mexican Biology and Mathematics Network (RedMexBiomate), Cuernavaca, Mexico
Constructing an encyclopedia of cancer cell reversion mechanismsTalkThe International Conference of Systems Biology 2023 (ICSB 2023)2023The International Conference of Systems Biology 2023 (ICSB 2023), Hartford, CT
Model checking for inferred static networksTalkThematic workshop on networks and biological models inference2023Thematic workshop on networks and biological models inference, CIRM, Marseille, France
NETISCE: A Network-Based Tool for Cell Fate ReprogrammingPosterNetBioMed 20222022NetBioMed 2022, Online
NETISCE: A dynamical systems and control theory approach to cell reprogrammingTalkInternational Conference of Systems Biology (ICSB 2022)2022ICSB 2022, Berlin, Germany
Rescuing cellular alterations in aged pancreatic beta cells to restore insulin-secretion functionTalkThe Interstellar Initiative2022Interstellar InitiativeOnline
A dynamical systems and control theory approach to cell reprogrammingTalk2022Paris, France
A dynamical systems and control theory approach to cell reprogrammingTalkNetBioMed 20212021Online
A dynamical systems and control theory approach to cell reprogrammingTalkISG Virtual Networking Event2020Virtual
A computational systems biology pipeline for the reversion of resistance to cisplatin in a triple-negative breast cancer subtypeTalkCenter for Reproducible Biomedical Modeling2020Virtual
Reversion of the attractor landscape of an intracellular regulatory networkfor triple-negative breast cancerTalkJoint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) 20192019Baltimore, USA
The Minimal Hitting Set Problem and Its ApplicationsLectureMexican Mathematicians in the World2018Casa Matemática Oaxaca (CMO)
Optimal Control Based on the Structure of the Dynamical SystemLectureXIV National Meeting on Mathematical Biology (ENBM)2018Mathematics Research Center (CIMAT), Guanajuato, Mexico
Predicting patient response to immune checkpoint therapies through deep immune profilingTalkInterstellar Initiative Workshop sponsor by AMED and NYAS2017New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), New York
On the minimal hitting set generation problem and its applicationsTalkDiscrete Math Day of the Northeast2016Smith College, Northampton MA, USA
On the minimal hitting set generation problem and its applicationsTalkSIGMA Seminar at the Mathematics Department at UConn2016Mathematics Department at UConn
Combinatorial Interventions for Control Tasks in Large-Scale Signaling NetworksTalkAlgebraic and Combinatorial Approaches in Systems Biology (ACSB2015)2015Farmington CT
Controllability of large scale networksTalkThe Winter q-bio Meeting 20152015Maui, HI
A Signaling Pathway Rationale for the Design of Combination Therapies for Cancer.Talk6th International Moscow Conference on Computational Molecular Biology2013Moscow, Russia
An Algebra-Based Method to Infer the Structure and Dynamics of Gene Regulatory Networks. Workshop: Algebraic Methods in Systems and Evolutionary Biology.TalkWorkshop: Algebraic Methods in Systems and Evolutionary Biology2012MBI, Ohio, USA
Computational Systems Biology: Discrete Models of Gene Regulatory Networks.Talk8th European Conference on Mathematical and Theoretical Biology and Annual2011Krakow, Poland
An Integrative Signaling Pathway Analysis for Determining Master Regulators and Dysregulated Pathways in Her2 Over-Expressed Human Breast Cancer.TalkJournées Ouvertes en Biologie, Informatique et Mathématiques2011Institut Pasteur. Paris, France
Integrative Analysis for Determining Key Molecular Players Involved in Her2 Over-expressing Human Breast Cancer.TalkIB-PAS 2010: Internat. Workshop on Integrative PathwayAnalysis and Simulati2010Bielefeld, Germany.
On the Inverse Problem for Molecular Regulatory Networks.TalkDepartment of Mathematical Sciences2009University of Delaware, Delaware
Inference of Molecular Regulatory Networks Using Evolutionary Computation.TalkInstitut Curie2009Institut Curie, Paris, France
System Identification for Discrete Polynomial Models of Gene Regulatory Networks.Talk15th International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) Symposium on Syst2009Saint Malo, France.
Inference of Molecular Regulatory Networks.TalkDepartment of Neurology2009Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York
Reverse-Engineering of Molecular Regulatory Networks.TalkDepartment of Pathology Informatics2009Yale School of Medicine, Connecticut
Inference of Brain Connectivity Networks.TalkMinority Biomedical Research Support Seminars2008Rutgers University, New Jersey
Reverse-Engineering of Biological Network Models from Noisy Time-Course Data Using Evolutionary Algorithms and Computational Algebra Tools.TalkMathematical Biosciences Institute (MBI)2008Ohio State University, Ohio
Discrete Finite Dynamical Systems for the Reverse-Engineering of Biochemical Networks.TalkMathematical Biology Seminar2007Rutgers University, New Jersey
Reverse-Engineering of Biological Systems Using Discrete Mathematics.Talk2nd Research Mixer, Bell Laboratories2007Bell Laboratories, New Jersey
Reverse-Engineering of Biochemical Networks.TalkDynamics of Infectious Diseases Meeting2007SAMSI, North Carolina, USA
Reverse-Engineering of Biological Systems Using Discrete MathematicsTalkDepartment of Mathematical Sciences2007Florida Atlantic University, Florida
Algorithms for the Modeling and Simulation of Gene Regulatory Networks.TalkGene Network Sciences, Inc.2007Gene Network Sciences, Inc., Boston, MA
Dynamical Modeling of Gene Regulatory Networks.TalkCenter for Multiscale Analysis of Genetic Networks2007Columbia University, New York
An Evolutionary Algorithm for the Identification of Biochemical networks.TalkSociety for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Annual Meeting2006Boston, MA
Nonlinear Dynamics of Structured Populations: Theory and Applications of Matrix ModelsTalkPark City Math Institute (PCMI) and the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)2005Park City, Utah
Cycles of the State Space of n-Dimensional Dynamical Systems.TalkMathematics Department2003Virginia Tech, Virginia
The Mystic Hexagram: A Combinatorial Approach.TalkMathematics Department, Sciences School, UNAM2001Mexico City, Mexico
Secrets Among Prime Numbers: An Introduction to Cryptography.TalkMathematics Month at the Museum of Sciences “Universum”,1999Universum, UNAM, Mexico
Pascal’s Mystic Hexagram: Combinatorial and algebraic aspects.TalkNational Conference for the “Summer with a Scientist” Research Program1998Veracruz, Mexico