Rita P Raman

Rita P Raman

University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

Title: Epigenetics: Role in the etiology of adult diseases


Rita Raman is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Attending Neonatologist at The Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Raman is Board Certified in both Pediatrics and in Neonatal Medicine. She has been at the University of Oklahoma since 1982. Dr. Raman also has a Master’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and is a licensed attorney. Dr. Raman has served in several administrative positions, including Medical Director of University Hospital Nurseries, Pediatric Service Chief at the University Hospital, Associate Medical Director of Heartland Health Plan of Oklahoma, Director of the Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship Training Program and Medical Director of Mediflight Neonate Transport Team of Oklahoma. She has also served as Consultant to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Raman served as President of the American College of Nutrition and of the International Colleges of Nutrition. Dr. Raman is a member of several national organizations, organized scientific sessions and symposia at national meetings, lectured extensively both nationally and internationally. She has received several awards and honors during her career. Dr. Raman’s research has been in the area of neonatal and perinatal nutrition. She was recognized as a Master of the American College of Nutrition. Dr. Raman has been recognized as a Top Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Specialist in Oklahoma and as a Leading Physician of the World in 2013.


Search for the origins of diseases have led to investigations into the roles of dietary and environmental factors as potential triggers or modifiers of risk. These may occur with or without specific periods of permissiveness or vulnerabilities. These concepts are particularly intriguing in the context of diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome. Genetic contributions to obesity have been estimated from twin, non-twin siblings and adoptees, and range from 40 to 70%. Epigenetics involves the study of heritable changes in gene expression that are not due to changes in the nucleotide sequence, but involve other mechanisms such as histone modifications or changes in DNA by altering the methylation patterns. Such modifications can be impacted by diet, nutrients, and environmental factors such as chemical, psychological and behavioral factors. While the roles of dietary factors are readily understood in the context of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, the epigenetic phenomenon provides the linkage between factors such as stress, sleep deprivation and obesity. The term exposome has been used to define the sum of all of the individuals’ exposures. Data provided by animal experiments and from follow up of human cohorts exposed to poor nutrition or other adverse influences in early life has helped elucidate these interrelationships. Evaluation of the impact of these exposures and its relationship to health outcomes facilitates better understanding of the origins of diseases.