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Principal Investigator

Tony Capra (aka John Capra)

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Tony Capra is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute at the University of California, San Francisco.  He received his PhD in computer science from Princeton University and completed a postdoc in the Gladstone Institutes at UCSF.


Bian Li, July 2019 – Present
Bian LiBian received his PhD in Chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 2018. Prior to joining the Capra Lab, he was a postdoctoral associate at Yale University. Bian is primarily interested in computational structural biology and human molecular genetics. His research goals include understanding the genetic variants underlying differences in the efficacy and toxicity of drugs and developing data-driven tools for improving drug prescription. Bian’s previous research topics include drug discovery, protein structure prediction, and variant interpretation.


David Rinker, January 2016 – Present
David received his PhD in Genetics from Vanderbilt in 2015. His interests center around functional genomics, with a particular interest in exploring the relationship between gene regulation and phenotype. David’s previous research spanned both arthropod and fungal genomics, and he remains interested in placing genomic inquiries within the larger framework of comparative evolutionary biology.


PhD Students

Abin Abraham (MSTP), Fall 2017 – Present

Abin is a MD/PhD student in the Human Genetics program. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S.E in Biomedical Engineering.




Sarah Fong (Human Genetics), Summer 2018 – Present

Sarah graduated from University of California Berkeley with a B.A. in Molecular and Cellular Biology. She is interested in the evolution of regulatory elements and its role directing cell fates. Previously, she researched stem cell differentiation for the development of cancer therapeutics in San Francisco.



Evonne McArthur (MSTP/Human Genetics), Fall 2018 – Present

Evonne is a MD/PhD student in the Human Genetics program. She is interested in the role of structural and regulatory element variation in risk for both rare and common diseases. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Quantitative Biology.



Souhrid Mukherjee (Biological Sciences), Summer 2017 – Present
Souhrid is a graduate student in the Biological Science program. He is interested in personalized structural biology, systems biology and the role of protein-protein interactions in human diseases. He holds a B.S and M.S in Biochemistry, from the University of Calcutta, India.




Keila Velázquez-Arcelay (Biological Sciences), Summer 2018 – Present

Keila is a graduate student in the Biological Sciences program. She is interested in ancient genomics, population genetics, ancient introgression (e.g., Neanderthals, Denisovans), and elucidating the evolutionary/adaptive history of humans and associated species. She graduated with a B.S. in Biotechnology from Universidad del Este.




  • Abby Franklin (Duke University)


Lab Alumni


Greg Sliwoski, July 2016 – May 2019
Greg received his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Leipzig in Germany. He is primarily interested in exploring computational techniques that incorporate protein structure prediction into variant effect prediction. His research goals include improving rare variant analysis with structural modeling and applying these methods to personalized medicine and drug discovery. His previous research topics include computer-aided drug discovery, GPCR structure prediction and ligand docking, and QSAR descriptor development. Other interests include neuroscience and music. Current Position: Senior Data Scientist, Lose It!, Cambridge, MA


Graduate Students

Mary Lauren Benton (DBMI), Summer 2016 – Summer 2020

Mary Lauren was a graduate student in the BIDS program in the Department of Biomedical Informatics. She developed computational methods for comparing, predicting, and interpreting gene regulatory regions across tissues. She graduated with a B.S. in Bioinformatics from Baylor University.

Current Position: Assistant Professor of Bioinformatics at Baylor


Laura Colbran (Human Genetics), Summer 2016 – Summer 2020

Laura was a graduate student in the Human Genetics program. She applied machine learning methods to interpret modern and archaic gene regulatory sequences. She graduated with a B.S. in Biology from Carleton College.

Current Position: Postdoc in the Mathieson Lab at UPenn.


Ling Chen (Biological Sciences), Summer 2014 – Winter 2019
Ling was a graduate student in the Biological Sciences program. She developed machine learning methods to predict and interpret gene regulatory regions across species. She graduated with a B.S. in Biology from Nankai University.

Current position: Senior Data Scientist at Illumina


Alexandra Fish (Human Genetics), Summer 2012 – Spring 2017
Alex’s PhD research focused on identifying  genetic variants that regulate gene expression levels, with an emphasis on both long-range regulation and interactions between variants.  She has a B.S. in Biology and a B.S. in Psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Current Position: Senior Scientist, Genomics PLC, Oxford, UK


Corinne Simonti (Human Genetics), Summer 2013 – Spring 2017
Corinne Simonti completed her PhD in the Human Genetics program at Vanderbilt University in 2017. Her primary research focused on determining the genetic basis of the phenotypic differences between humans and archaic hominins. She graduated with a B.S. in Genetics from the University of Georgia in 2012.
Current Position: Postdoc, Lachance Lab, Georgia Tech


Mike Sivley (Biomedical Informatics), Summer 2013 – Winter 2017
Mike holds a BS and MS in Computer Science. His masters thesis focused on clustering rare genetic variation to improve statistical power for association studies. His PhD research developed analysis strategies for genetic variation in the context of protein structures and biobank data.
Current Position: Scientist, Genomics PLC, Oxford, UK


Vanderbilt Undergrads

Elizabeth Dorans, Undergrad Intern, 2019–2020

Kevin Yang, Undergrad Intern, Summer 2018 – Summer 2019

Daniel Yan, Undergrad Intern, Summer 2018

Xiaoyi Dou, Undergrad Intern, Summer 2016 – Spring 2017, Summer 2018

Chantay Young, Undergrad Intern, Summer 2017

Joanna Zhang, Undergrad Intern, Summer 2015 – Spring 2017


Merian Gabra (Tennessee State University), Undergrad Intern, Summer 2019

Shahrukh Malik (COMSATS Institute of Information Technology), Undergrad Intern, Summer 2016

Zubia Shahid (University of the Sciences), Intern, Summer 2015

Laura Colbran (Carleton College), Undergrad Intern, Summer 2014. Laura is now a graduate student at Vanderbilt.

Vir Patel (Western Kentucky University), Undergrad Intern, Summer 2014. Vir is now an undergrad at Duke.