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Ramos Research Lab

Paula Ramos, Ph.D.Paula Ramos, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Division of Rheumatology & Immunology

Our research aims to understand the etiology of human autoimmunity and the reasons underlying its disparities. We are interested in identifying the elements of the human genome that confer increased risk of autoimmune disease, focusing on systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and systemic sclerosis (SSc). This knowledge can inform the design of therapeutic and preventative strategies for improved disease management.

Autoimmune diseases are a family of complex heterogeneous disorders with similar underlying mechanisms characterized by immune responses against self. Collectively, autoimmune diseases are common, exhibit gender and racial disparities, and increasing incidence. Human genomic variation influences disease risk, and non-genomic (environmental) factors can affect the epigenome to contribute to the health disparities. Understanding the genetic, epigenetic, and environmental causes of human disease can inform personalized medicine approaches.

Our team uses population and statistical genetics, genetic and social epidemiology, and bioinformatics and computational tools to identify genetic and epigenetic variants for complex autoimmune diseases and social exposures, especially in African Americans. Our projects are conducted in cooperation with the Sea Island Families Project Citizen Advisory Committee, our engaged community-partnership.


Ongoing projects include:

Social Factors, Epigenomics, and Lupus in African American women (SELA) study:
Lupus outcomes graphic The goal of this project is to understand the effects of positive (e.g., social support) and negative (e.g., racial discrimination) social exposures on lupus outcomes through epigenomic changes. For details about this study and examples of our work in this area, read this article published in Lupus Science & Medicine and this review published in Current Opinion in Rheumatology 2021. For more information, view/download the SELA Study Flyer (PDF).


Ramos lab imageCell regulation in African American patients with systemic sclerosis:
The goal of these projects is to understand the dysregulation of monocytes and skin fibroblasts in scleroderma. Read this article published in Clinical Epigenetics 2023 and this article in Genes 2021 for examples of our work in this area.

Precision rEsearCh pArticipatioN (PECAN) study:
The goal of this study is to gain insights into factors that positively or negatively influence perceptions about precision health research participation, among a diverse population-based sample of participants in South Carolina. Details on how to participate coming soon.


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Senior Author Publications:

Senior Author PubMed Collection (senior author publications are most often associated with mentored projects)