Lilia Iakoucheva obtained her B.S. in genetics from Kiev State University and her Ph.D. in molecular biology and immunology from the Institute of Immunology in Moscow. She began her career as a protein biochemist and her research has expanded into the area of psychiatric genomics. During her postdoctoral training, Iakoucheva made a series of fundamental discoveries about a new class of proteins that remain unfolded while fully functional (e.g., disordered proteins). Her early work on intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) has led to a paradigm shift in the field structural biology, and her initial publications (cited over 1,500 times) have been of fundamental importance to the birth of a novel field of research.
Iakoucheva joined the psychiatry department of the University of California, San Diego, as an assistant professor in 2010. She became a professor in 2022. Her current research focuses on improving the understanding of the molecular basis of neurodevelopmental conditions, and she is applying her deep knowledge of proteins to this problem. The goal of her laboratory is to discover pathways that connect genes carrying autism risk mutations by building comprehensive gene expression and protein interaction networks for autism candidate genes and their alternatively spliced isoforms. Her lab uses patient-derived brain organoid and animal models combined with genome-wide transcriptomic and proteomic approaches to investigate functional impact of genetic mutations in these conditions.
Iakoucheva is an editorial board member of five scientific journals. She has also been the principal investigator on multiple research grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Cancer Institute (NCI), Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI).