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Maria De Luca, PhD

Associate Professor
Dept. of Nutrition Sciences
School of Health Professions
Office Address: WEBB 451
Phone: 205-934-7033

Dr. Maria De Luca is an associate professor in the Division of Nutritional Biochemistry and Genomics in the Department of Nutrition Sciences. Dr. De Luca obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Calabria (Italy) working on the study of human genetic variation using high variable DNA markers. During that time she was awarded a European Union Mobility Program fellowship to work in the laboratory of Dr. Julia Bodmer at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London. The goal of the project was to develop a DNA method to study HLA alleles and apply it to the study of the genetic history of European populations. Dr. De Luca continued her academic training as a postdoctoral fellow at the Italian National Center on Aging working on the identification of genes involved in human longevity by a population genetic approach. She later joined the laboratory of Dr. Trudy Mackay at North Carolina State University where she expanded her research experience in the genetics and analysis of quantitative traits using D. melanogaster as model organism. Dr. De Luca joined UAB in November 2002 initially as a research-track fellow in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health and has held her current position in the Department of Nutrition Sciences since July 2005.

Dr. De Luca’s research efforts are focused on the identification of genetic pathways that produce variation in fat storage and innate immune function with aging using a quantitative genetic approach and D. melanogaster as a model system. Identification of these genes will likely provide new models for human obesity and age-related metabolic diseases. Moreover, it will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms by which variation for fat storage and innate immune response is maintained in natural populations.

Representative Publications

  • Bonafe M, Olivieri F, Mari D, Baggio G, Mattace R, Sansoni P, De Benedictis G, De Luca M, Bertolini S, Monti D, Franceschi C. (1998). p53 variants predisposing to cancer are present in healthy centenarians. American Journal of Human Genetics 64: 292-294. 
  • Franceschi C, Bonafe M, Valensin S, Olivieri F, De Luca M, Ottaviani E, De Benedictis G. (2000). Inflamm-aging. An evolutionary perspective on immunosenescence. Ann N Y Acad Sci 908: 244-254. 
  • De Luca M, Rose G, Bonafe M, Garasto S, Greco V, Weir BS, Franceschi C, De Benedictis G. (2001). Sex-specific longevity associations defined by Tyrosine Hydroxylase-Insulin-Insulin-like growth factor 2 on the 11p15.5 chromosomal region. Experimental Gerontology 36: 1663-1671. 
  • De Luca M, Roshina NV, Geiger-Thornesberry GL, Lyman RF, Pasyukova EG, MACKAY TFC (2003) Dopa decarboxylase affects variation in Drosophila longevity. Nature Genetics 34: 429-433. 
  • Ruden DM, De Luca M, Garfinkel MD, Bynum K, Lu X. (2005). Drosophila nutrigenomics can provide clues to human gene-nutrient interactions. Annual Review of Nutrition 25:499-522.
  • De Luca M, Yi N, Allison DB, Leips JW, Ruden DM. (2005). Mapping quantitative trait loci affecting variation in Drosophila triacylglycerol storage. Obesity Research 13:1596-1605.