Renata Afi Rawlings

Renata Afi Rawlings-Goss, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests

Human Genetics
Africa has a central role in evolutionary genetics as the birthplace of modern humans as well as a largest source of human diversity arising from total number of alleles, as well as unique alleles compared to non-African populations.

My research interests include the genetic discovery and population specific variation of non-coding genomic regions in Africa. Of particular interest are small-noncoding RNA (i.e. miRNA, siRNA) involved in the RNA interference pathway and diabetes management.

RNA Interference
RNA interference or (RNAi) is a immune and gene regulatory pathway first identified in 1999 that utilizes small non-coding RNA fragments as triggers to either destroy invading RNA (i.e., viral or transposon derived) or to regulate endogenous gene expression.   The implications of this research led to RNAi being the subject of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Medicine and to its use as a novel approach to manipulate gene expression in mammalian cells and organisms. Consequently, the ability to effectively knockdown a gene of interest by introducing small RNAs targeted against that gene has offered, for functional genetics, a wide variety of applications spanning almost all classes of organisms.

High coverage sequencing of African populations can provide information about variation in both exonic and RNAi–specific genes, unlocking novel human variation in these potentially functionally important regions.

Diabetes Management 
Traditionally, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), fasting, and postprandial glucose were used to assess glycemic control and risk of complications in patients with diabetes. However, emerging evidence suggest that glucose variability may also play an important role in the development of microvascular complications and cardiovascular disease via several mechanisms including its role in oxidative stress and vascular pathology. Glucose control can vary substantially among individuals therefore genetic variation in the basal glucose control among populations is a question of interest.



Biophysics, 2010
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Title: Graduate Research Assistant with Professor Nils Walter


Biophysics, 2007


Physics, 2004
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
GPA: 3.94 on a 4.00 scale Summa cum Laude

Employment History

Postdoctoral Researcher (2010-2011) with Dr. Patrick Nelson
Center for Computational Medicine and Biology, Ann Arbor, MI
Creating computational tools for the analysis of Diabetes, HIV and emergent therapies such as RNA interference and stem cell gene therapy.

Scientific Consultant (2004) 
Addison Wesley Publishing
Collaborated on writing the solution manual for the 2004 general physics textbook publication of University Physics

Intern (2003)
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), Palo Alto, CA                                                             
Wrote analytical algorithms for the former Gamma Large Area Space Telescope Project now
Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope to perform gamma-ray astronomy observations from low Earth orbit.
The project was launched 2008-06-11 and is a joint venture between NASA, the US Department of Energy and government agencies in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Sweden.

Research Associate (2000-2003)
Center for Nonlinear Nonequilibrium Aero science (CeNNAS), Tallahassee, FL
Designed and built electric circuitry for the cordon streak camera while researching optimal setups for high quality camera optical resolution. These cameras were used to measure turbulence fluid flow with applications and funding from Boeing and the US Department of Defense.

Consulting Associate (1998-2004)
Integrated Minority AIDS Network Incorporated (IMANI), Dallas, TX
Reviewed marketing material and acted as a scientific consultant with an intimate team of physicians, lawyers, statisticians and accountants to be a combined resource for clinicians in their attempt to optimally treat their HIV infected patients.  IMANI works as a coalition of specialists educating physicians and other providers about HIV/AIDS and other disease states to conduct related clinical research and provide statistics to support policy changes.

Funding History

National Institute of Health
Postdoctoral Fellowship (PENN-PORT)
$190,488 committed over three years from a competitive nationwide application process including salary, health insurance (based on 2011 maximum individual contribution), and 2500 per year in research and supplies.

2010 – 2011
National Science Foundation
Postdoctoral Fellowship through the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate $168,600 committed over three years, upon annual renewal, including salary, health insurance (based on 2010 maximum individual contribution), and 5000 per year in research and supplies.

National Science Foundation
Mini Grant through the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate
$1,500 competitive grant for graduate students to fund additional research equipment and costs

University of Michigan Rackham Travel Grant
$1,000 competitive grant offered through the University of Michigan for conference and research travel

2009 – 2010
National Institute of General Medical Sciences Molecular Biophysics Training Grant
$123,200 committed over two years, upon annual renewal, including stipend, tuition and benefits per year

2007 – 2009
Rackham Merit Fellowship
$184,800 committed over three years, upon annual renewal, including stipend, tuition health insurances and yearly benefits

2004 – 2007
National Academy of Sciences
Ford Doctoral Fellowship
$178,800 committed over three years including $24,000 Stipend, 35,000 Tuition + 600 Benefits per year

2000 – 2004
Thurgood Marshall Life Gets Better Scholarship
over four years including tuition, internships, benefits, and stipend

Recent Publications

  • Rawlings, RA, Krishnan, V, Walter, N. (2011) "Catch and release: How a viral RNA silencing suppressor inhibits human RISC assembly" Journal of Molecular Biology
  • Rawlings, RA, Shi, H, Huayuag, L, Brehm W, Pop-Busui R, Nelson, P. W. (2011) "Translating Glucose Variability Metrics into the Clinic via Continuous Glucose Monitoring: a Graphical User Interface for Diabetes Evaluation (CGM-GUIDE ©)" Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics
  • Simonov M, Rawlings, RA, Reed S, Xie X, Nelson, P.W. (2011) "Modeling Adaptive Regulatory T-cell Dynamics during Primary HIV Infection" PLoS ONE
  • Rawlings, RA, Shi, H, Huayuag, L, Nelson, P.W. (2012) "Dynamic Stress Factor (DySF) is a significant predictor of severe hypoglycemic events in children with type 1 diabetes" Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Rawlings, RA, Nelson, PW, Inventors (2011) "Tools for Making Informed Decisions on the Management of Patient Insulin" (Patent Pending)

Teaching and Mentorship


Michigan Math and Science Summer Instructor (Mathematical Biology), Ann Arbor, MI
Instructor – Mathematical Biology
Taught advanced highschool students the principles of mathematical modeling in the study of biological systems.

University of Michigan Math, Ann Arbor, MI
Instructor – Mathematical Biology- Math 490
Taught graduate and undergraduate students in the principles of applying mathematics to the study of biological problems

University of Michigan Chemistry, Ann Arbor
Graduate Student Instructor – Advanced Scientific Writing- Chem 495
Evaluated postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students in the theoretical background of writing and research in the sciences, focusing on issues concerning tone, voice, evidence, audience, and the function and forms of persuasion in professional scientific writing.


University of Michigan Biophysics, Ann Arbor, MI
Graduate Student Instructor – Biophysics 520
Worked with biology, chemistry, engineering and physics graduate students teaching cutting edge modeling and experimental biophysical techniques. 


University of Michigan Chemistry, Ann Arbor, MI
Graduate Student Instructor – Organic Chemistry Lab 216
Instructed primarily chemistry undergraduates in organic chemistry laboratory techniques.

Academic Experience

Computational Analysis

Group Presentations and Public Speaking

Computer Modeling

Electronic Fabrication and Programming

Software Proficiencies: Microsoft Excel, Word, Word 2007, Powerpoint, Mac Keynote, Mac Pages, iMovie, Endnote, Matlab, Mathematica, Corel Draw, Origin, Image Quant, Image J, LaTex, MacPyMol, OmniGraffle, DNAStar, Ultrascan

Skilled Techniques: High Pressure Liquid Chromatography, Solution based and Time Resolved Florescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET), Analytical Ultracentrifugation, Gel Electrophoresis, Cell Culture, Fluorescent Imaging, Western blot, Radioactive labeling, Mass Spectrometry, Single Molecule Techniques