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Associate Professor, Genetics

Research Interests

Key words: gene-environment interactions, systems genetics, asthma, environmentally-induced lung disease

My long-standing research interest has been in gene-environment interactions (GxE) with environmental health hazards. My motivation stems from the desire to understand inter-individual variation in response to exposures associated with disease, and my training in both toxicology and genetics allows me to marry these two disciplines. The central focus of my lab is on the identification of GxE with air pollutants and allergens that affect the development of common airway diseases like asthma and COPD, with the mindset that identifying GxE provides an important means to gain information about disease susceptibility and mechanisms underlying the association between exposures and disease.

Robust detection of GxE requires maximizing information about both genetic variation (G) and environmental exposure (E), which is very challenging in human studies. Thus, we leverage model systems, mice in particular, in which we control both G and E. On the genetics side, we have worked heavily with the Collaborative Cross (CC), a mouse genetics reference population that features abundant genetic variation in format of inbred lines. On the exposure side, we have established state-of-the-art inhalation exposure systems to deliver precise air pollutant exposures to rodents; and we aim to expand our capacity to model exposures to additional air pollutants and other common respiratory exposures associated with respiratory disease.

Ultimately, of course, we seek to translate our findings from model systems to humans. To that end, we collaborate with investigators at the UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology, the UNC Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility, and the UNC Marsico Lung Institute, to enable such cross-species comparisons in the context of clinical and/or epidemiologic data. Thus, in total, our work is multidisciplinary and utilizes approaches from genetics, toxicology, and epidemiology. To learn about current projects in the lab, please see our website.

Mentor Training:

  • Bias 101
  • Culturally Aware Mentoring
  • Faculty Mentoring Workshop for Biomedical Researchers

Training Program Affiliations:

  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
  • Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Toxicology


Samir Kelada in UNC Genetics News

Samir Kelada, PhD, MPH