Dr. Connie J. Mulligan

My research program uses molecular genetic data to investigate questions about human health and disease. I take an interdisciplinary perspective on evolution and health, with a particular focus on the impact of childhood adversity and the basis of racial health disparities. I have been fortunate to have my research funded by NSF grants for the past fifteen years. Since 2008, I have been investigating the genetic and cultural risk factors for hypertension in African Americans living in Tallahassee, FL. In collaboration with Lance Gravlee and Chris McCarty (UF, Anthropology), we are interested in the basis of racial disparities in hypertension and the role of discrimination and ethnicity, thus we incorporate estimates of genetic ancestry and allele frequencies of candidate genes, novel measures of discrimination, and personal social networks. Our results consistently reveal significant interactions between genetic variants and sociocultural measures highlighting the merit of a biocultural approach and suggesting that more narrowly focused studies may be missing important associations. Since 2010, I have been studying the effect of violence and stress to mothers in the Democratic Republic of Congo on their newborn’s health with particular focus on a possible epigenetic mechanism to mediate this effect. Thus far, we have found focused, gene-specific effects on methylation in newborns, suggesting that DNA methylation may be the mechanism that underlies fetal programming. We have ongoing studies to include gene expression in our studies of DNA methylation and to investigate the health, DNA methylation, and gene expression in the children over time through five years of follow-up samples. In 2016, I started a collaboration with Catherine Panter-Brick (Yale, Anthropology) and Rana Dajani (Hashemite University, Jordan) to investigate risk and resilience in Syrian refugees living in Jordan. My lab is investigating genetic and epigenetic variants that may influence response to trauma and possibly be transmitted to future generations. This project was reported in Science, 2018, Lessons in Resilience, read more here.

Personal Website

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Contact Information

Office Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 3:00 – 3:50pm and by appointment

Office: 409 Genetics Institute, CGRC
Phone: (352) 273-8092
Email: cmulligan@ufl.edu

Lab: 415 Genetics Institute, CGRC

Mailing Address:

Department of Anthropology
University of Florida
P.O. Box 117305
Gainesville, FL 32611-7305