Laura Raffield, PhD has been appointed as tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics, effective 29 July 2022.
Dr. Raffield obtained her B.S. in Biology with Highest Distinction, Highest Honors in Biology with a Minor in Chemistry from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011. She earned her Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Genomics from Wake Forest University in 2015. She studied the genetic and epidemiological contributors to aging-related traits in the Diabetes Heart Study while at Wake Forest. Dr. Raffield continued her training as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Genetics at UNC Chapel Hill starting in 2015, where she worked in the laboratories of Drs. Yun Li, Leslie Lange and Ethan Lange. In July 2020, Dr. Raffield was appointed Research Assistant Professor, where she grew an independent research program focused on metabolomic analysis in multi-ethnic populations and application to hematological traits in addition to a leadership role with the Jackson Heart Study Genetics working group (co-chair).
Dr. Raffield uses human genomics and multi-omics to understand inherited and environmental risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases and related quantitative traits. She works to link genetic variants to function through integration with multi-omics data, including transcriptomic, methylation, proteomic, and metabolomic measures. This work has important implications for cardiometabolic risk prediction across diverse populations and improved understanding of disease biology. A focus on understudied African American and Hispanic/Latino populations is a central theme of Dr. Raffield’s research; human genetics research is dramatically unrepresentative of global populations, with ~95% of genome-wide association study participants of European or East Asian ancestry. As complex trait genetics moves into the clinic, increasing diversity is essential to ensure that all populations benefit from the promise of precision medicine. In addition to her leadership role with the Jackson Heart Study, Dr. Raffield is a working group co-chair for the Population Architecture Using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) consortium. Additionally, she is a co-convener of the Multi-Omics working group for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) Program.