Keisa Mathis

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Keisa Mathis, Ph.D.

Associate Professor


  • B.S., Southern University and A&M College (2001)
  • M.S., Purdue University (2003)
  • M.S., LSU Health Sciences Center (2005)
  • Ph.D., LSU Health Sciences Center (2009)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Mississippi Medical Center (2013)

Curriculum Vitae
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Personal Bio

Dr. Mathis’s career path is unique as she started out as a physics major and she is now an integrative physiologist.  Research has always been an underlying force in her career and she was able to carve out her niche after research training with her mentors, Dr. Patricia Molina (graduate school) and Dr. Michael Ryan (postdoc).  She is thrilled to now lead a team of scientists interested in hypertension and lupus research. Beyond science, Dr. Mathis is devoted to K-12 outreach and diversifying academia and she thoroughly enjoys being ‘Mommy’ to her four daughters.

Research Interests

Overall, the Mathis Laboratory investigates mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of hypertension and renal injury.  The lab is highly focused on chronic renal inflammation and how it contributes to the development and maintenance of hypertension and renal injury. We hypothesize that neuroimmune mechanisms that normally subside aberrant inflammation are impaired in hypertension. To investigate our hypothesis, we use a strain of lupus mice that spontaneously develops chronic renal inflammation and has a high prevalence of hypertension. We manipulate these mice to reduce inflammation and to slow the progression of hypertension and in the process, we have determined and continue to investigate potential alternative therapeutic strategies for lupus.

Research Keywords

Hypertension, renal injury, systemic lupus erythematosus, lupus nephritis, renal inflammation, neuroimmune mechanisms, cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, kidney, vagus nerve, autonomic nervous system

Current Projects

  • Cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway and hypertension—investigating how failure of endogenous neuroimmune mechanisms meant to control inflammation can lead to chronic renal inflammation and hypertension.
  • Positive allosteric modulators and chronic renal inflammation—investigating if accentuating acetylcholine signaling peripherally and centrally reduces inflammation and improves behavior in mice with lupus. These studies are in collaboration with Dr. Victor Uteshev of UNTHSC Pharmacology and Neuroscience.
  • Sex differences in lupus—determining sex differences in the development of lupus-induced hypertension and renal injury.
  • Early life stressors—examining the impact of early life stressors on the pathogenesis of lupus and autoimmunity.

Current Funding

  • NIH NHLBI (1R01HL153703)—“Control of Renal Inflammation in Hypertension”
  • NIH NHLBI (1K01HL139859)—“ Neuroimmune Mechanisms Involved in the Pathogenesis of Hypertension and Renal Injury”

Selected Publications

  • Pham GS*, Shimoura CG*, Chaudhari SS, Kulp DV, Mathis KW. Chronic unilateral cervical vagotomy reduces renal inflammation, blood pressure, and renal injury in a mouse model of lupus. Accepted Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2020 Jun 15. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00201.2020. Online ahead of print
  • Pham GS, Mathis KW. Autoimmunity, Estrogen and Lupus. In: Sex Differences in Cardiovascular Physiology and Pathophysiology: editors: Lamarca and Alexander. Alexander BT, Lamarca B, editors. USA: Elsevier Academic Press; 2019. Chapter 14; p.219-237. 392p.
  • Pham GS, Wang LA, Mathis KW. Pharmacological potentiation of the efferent vagus nerve attenuates blood pressure and renal injury in a murine model of systemic lupus erythematosus. AJP—Regulatory. 2018;315:R1261-1271.
  • Pham GS and Mathis KW. Lipopolysaccharide challenge reveals hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction in murine systemic lupus erythematosus. Brain Sciences. 2018;8(10).
  • Mathis KW. Complementing T regulatory cells to combat hypertension. Circulation Research. 2018;122(7);911-912.
  • Chaudhari S, Cushen S, Oluwatobiloba O, Paresh J, Posey R, Mathis K, Goulopoulou S. Mechanisms of sex disparities in cardiovascular function and remodeling. Comprehensive Physiology. 2018;9(1):375-411.
  • Syed M, Ball JP, Mathis KW, Hall ME, Ryan MJ, Rothenberg ME, Yanes Cardozo LL, Romero DG. MicroRNA-21 Ablation Exacerbates Aldosterone-Mediated Cardiac Injury, Remodeling and Dysfunction. AJP: Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2018; 315(6):E1154-E1167.
  • Rodriguez R, Lee A, Mathis KW, Broome HJ, Thorwald M, Martinez B, Nakano D, Nishiyama A, Ryan MJ, Ortiz RM. Angiotensin receptor and TNF-a activation contribute to glucose intolerance independent of systolic blood pressure in OLETF rats. AJP: Renal. 2018; 315(4):F1081-F1090.
  • Mathis KW, Gray E, Ryan MJ.  T lymphocytes promote autoimmune-associated hypertension. Pharmacological Research. 2017;120:252-257.
  • Fairley AS, Mathis KW.  Cholinergic agonists reduce blood pressure in mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus.  Physiological Reports. 2017;5(7):e13213.
  • Mathis KW.  An impaired neuroimmune pathway promotes the development of hypertension in the setting of chronic inflammation. American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory. 2015;309(9):1074-1077.
  • Mathis KW, Wallace K, Flynn E, Maric C, LaMarca B, Ryan MJ.  Preventing autoimmunity protects from hypertension and renal injury.  Hypertension. 2014;64(4):792-800.
  • Mathis KW, Broome HJ, Ryan MJ.  Autoimmunity:  an underlying factor in the pathogenesis of hypertension. Current Hypertension Reports. 2014;16(4):424
  • Gilbert EL, Mathis KW, Venegas-Pont M, and Ryan MJ.  Disparate temporal regulation of blood pressure by estrogens during systemic lupus erythematosus. Hypertension. 2014;63(3):616-623.
  • Mathis KW, Venegas-Pont M, Flynn E, Williams  JM, Maric C, Dwyer T, Ryan MJ.  Hypertension in an experimental model of systemic lupus erythematosus occurs independently of the renal nerves. American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2013;305(7):711-719.
  • Mathis KW, Venegas-Pont M, Masterson CW, Stewart, NJ, Wasson KL, and Ryan MJ.  Oxidative stress promotes hypertension and albuminuria during the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus.   Hypertension.  2012;59(3):673-679.
  • Mathis KW, Venegas-Pont M, Masterson CW, Wasson KL, Ryan MJ.  Blood pressure in a hypertensive mouse model of SLE is not salt-sensitive. American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2011; 301:R1286-1292.
  • Venegas-Pont M, Mathis KW, Iliescu R, Ray WH, Glover P, and Ryan M.  Blood pressure and renal hemodynamic responses to acute angiotensin II infusion are enhanced in a female mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus. American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2011; 301:R1281-1285.
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Teaching Interests

  • Endocrine Physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Physiology
  • Joint Admissions Medical Program
  • HSC Summer Multicultural Advanced Research Training (SMART)

UNTHSC Committees and Service

  • School of Biomedical Sciences (SBS) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group
  • SBS Admissions
  • Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Internal Advisory Committee
  • Physiology Understanding (PhUn) Tours
  • Physiology and Anatomy Communications Committee

National/International Committees and Service

  • Associate Editor—American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology
  • Consulting Editor—American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology
  • Co-Founder and Executive Director—Black in Physiology
  • Member—Diversity and Inclusion Committee, American Physiological Society (APS)
  • Chair—Membership and Communications Committee/Leadership Committee, AHA Council on Hypertension
  • Communications and Newsletter Chair—Sex and Gender Research Interest Group (SGRIG) Steering Committee, APS
  • Member—Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) Working Group on Enhancing Reproducibility and Rigor in Animal Research, NIH
  • Member—National Research Committee, AHA National
  • Diversity Champion—Council on the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease (KCVD) Leadership Committee, AHA KCVD