Jielu Lin, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Jielu Lin

Staff Scientist

National Human Genome Research Institute

Genetic and Social Network Correlates of Rheumatoid Arthritis Outcomes in Hispanic Populations

High rates of disability in Hispanic populations place significant burden on families and society. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is more active and severe in Hispanics groups, leading to increased disability. This project aims to identify genetic risk loci relevant to RA severity and the interpersonal mechanism underlying RA-related health communication and health service use across Hispanic subpopulations. The central hypothesis is that in cohesive families with more support exchange and advice seeking, individuals tend to adopt a proactive approach to managing RA, thereby lowering their risk for having severe RA, regardless of genetic susceptibility.

This project will recruit families of Hispanic heritage in the Washington, D.C. area, with a focus on those of Salvadoran, Dominican, and Puerto Rican background. Dr. Lin and her team aim to recruit 100 households affected by RA. Genetic, family network and psychosocial data will be collected. The analysis will assess 1) how known genetic risk loci are associated with RA severity; 2) how family networks are associated with RA-related health communication and rheumatology visits, which in turn impact RA severity; and 3) how family networks are associated with RA-attributable functional limitations, depressive symptoms and anxiety.

The long-term goal of this research is to first, help identify the genetic risk loci that may be candidates for future social epigenomic study of RA in Hispanic populations, and second, aid the development of interventions that are tailored to the family’s social context to facilitate health communication and encourage health service use in Hispanic communities.

Page updated December 8, 2021