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Dr Luis Zapata Ortiz

Group Leader

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Dr Luis Zapata Ortiz is investigating the fascinating interplay between the immune system and genetic variability within our bodies using genomic technologies and algorithms for detecting these changes. He is a member of scientific societies, and has a broad network of collaborations in the UK, EU, USA, Chile and Latin America. Group: Evolutionary Immunogenomics
+44 20 3437 6163


Dr Luis Zapata Ortiz leads the Evolutionary Immunogenomics Team at the ICR. His work has focused on developing immunogenomic-based metrics to predict response to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapies. His groundbreaking research, including publications in esteemed journals such as Nature Genetics and Genome Biology, has shed light on the clinical impact of immunoediting and the strength of immune selection.

His academic journey began with a major in Biotechnology Engineering at the University of Chile, a short-stay in University of California in Davis, followed by a Ph.D. in Biomedicine at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona. As a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the ICR, Luis made significant contributions to understanding how evolution shapes the genome of cells within our bodies, particularly focusing on the impact of the immune system on genetic variability.

He possesses a diverse skill set, including expertise in mathematical modelling, evolutionary theory, population genetics, and proficiency in computational biology. Dr Zapata Ortiz excels in implementing statistical and machine learning algorithms and has extensive experience analysing large datasets using high-performance computing clusters. 

Furthermore, Dr Zapata Ortiz has made significant contributions to the understanding of genetic variation in cancer genomes and healthy somatic tissues. His studies have demonstrated negative selection forces against alterations in essential genes and regions exposed to the immune system in the cancer genome. He also explored signals of selection on healthy somatic tissues and developed a mathematical model of dN/dS using stochastic branching processes.

Dr Zapata Ortiz's multidisciplinary expertise, ranging from mathematical modelling and population genetics to computational analysis and genomics, positions him as a leading expert in the field. His contributions have advanced our understanding of evolution's impact on the genome and its implications for disease.

Outside the lab, he enjoys time with his family, swimming, playing football and tennis with friends and competing in poker tournaments.