For more than two decades, Dr. Rotimi's research has focused on understanding the etiology of complex diseases and health disparities. His team takes advantage of vast interethnic differences in the distribution of genetic and environmental risk factors, with particular emphasis on populations of African ancestry living in Africa, the US, and the Caribbean.
In 2008, Dr. Rotimi was appointed the founding director of the NIH's Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health (CRGGH) with the central mission of advancing research into the role of culture, lifestyle, genetics and genomics in disease etiology, differential susceptibility to disease and variable drug response at the individual and population levels.
Currently, and prior to coming to the NIH, Dr. Rotimi's lab has focused on the establishment of large-scale genetic epidemiology projects in African countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia), the United States and China. Specifically, his research is directed at understanding the relationship between metabolic disorders such as obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension (HTN), and type 2 diabetes (T2D), the clustering of which, along with their health consequences, account for the majority of the health disparities between African Americans (AA) and European Americans.
Beyond the focus on chronic disease, Dr. Rotimi also devotes significant research resources toward understanding the genetic and non-genetic basis of podoconiosis, a neglected tropical disease. CRGGH is internationally recognized for its expertise in the analysis of complex traits in admixed African Americans and other African Diaspora populations and the development of genetic epidemiology methods. As an active participant in the global genomics research community, Dr. Rotimi and his lab are involve in projects to further the understanding of human genetic variation through the development and analysis of international genomic resources, including the International Haplotype Mapping (HapMap), 1000 Genomes, and African Genome Variation projects.
Dr. Rotimi received his undergraduate education in biochemistry from the University of Benin in Nigeria before immigrating to the United States for further studies. He started his education in the United States at the University of Mississippi, where he obtained a master's degree in health care administration. He obtained a second master's degree and a doctorate in epidemiology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Prior to coming to the NIH, Dr. Rotimi was the director of the National Human Genome Center at Howard University.
Dr. Rotimi came to the NIH in 2008 to found the trans-institute Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health, with the mission of advancing research into the role of culture, lifestyle and genomics in disease etiology, health disparities, and variable drug response. His lab develops genetic epidemiology models and conducts epidemiologic studies that explore the patterns and determinants of common complex diseases in human populations with particular emphasis on populations of the African Diaspora. His team published the first genome-wide scan for hypertension and blood pressure in African Americans and for type-2 diabetes in West Africans. His lab contributes to the global understanding of human genetic variation by actively participating in the development of international genomic resources including the HapMap, the 1000 Genome and the African Genome Variation Project. He is on the Executive and Scientific Committee for the International Federation of Human Genetics Societies and was recently elected to the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) Council. He is the founding and past president of the African Society of Human Genetics (AfSHG).
He successfully led the establishment of the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) initiative with $76 million commitment from the NIH and Wellcome Trust. H3Africa will create and support network of labs that will conduct leading-edge research into the genetic and environmental determinants of diseases in Africans. He is on the editorial board of Public Health Genomics, Genome Medicine, Clinical Genetics and Journal of Applied and Translational Genomics. He is on the Coriell Personalized Medicine Collaborative Board. He was recently awarded an honorary professorship at the prestigious University of Cape Town, South Africa. He became the Chief of the Metabolic, Cardiovascular and Inflammatory Disease Genomics Branch in 2014.
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Last Updated: January 6, 2015