Paivi Pajukanta*

Paivi Elisabeth Pajukanta

Department Vice Chair, Human Genetics, Human Genetics, University of California Los Angeles

Professor, Human Genetics, University of California Los Angeles


Gonda Center
Los Angeles, CA 90095 Gonda Center
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Fax Number:

Lab Number:


Director, Genetics & Genomics GPB Home Area
Member, Bioinformatics GPB Home Area, Cell & Developmental Biology GPB Home Area

Research Interests

Dr. Pajukanta’s laboratory focuses on genetics of cardiovascular disorders with a particular interest in the premature coronary heart disease (CHD) and familial lipid disorders such as familial combined hyperlipidemia (FCHL) and decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol predisposing to premature CHD. During the last 15 years, Dr. Pajukanta’s research group has conducted several genome-wide scans for cardiovascular traits, and identified genes for FCHL, hypertriglyceridemia, low HDL-C, obesity, and combined lipase deficiency. Their current studies focus on targeted resequencing, exome sequencing, genomic gene expression and association analysis to identify variants, genes, and pathways for complex cardiovascular traits, utilizing both study samples from diverse populations and a variety of novel and state of the art statistical methods of systems genetics. The characterization of genes for cardiovascular traits has a great potential to develop more accurate diagnostic tools, earlier detection, preventive interventions, and biology-based targeted therapeutical strategies.


Paivi Pajukanta, MD, PhD, is a Professor of Human Genetics at UCLA. Her research group is identifying biological mechanisms of DNA variants and genes involved in complex cardiovascular and metabolic disorders using integrative genomics approaches. Her research aims to discover gene-environment interactions and context-specific transcriptional and epigenomic effects contributing to cardiometabolic disorders in Mexicans and Europeans by integrating transcriptomics, epigenomics, and genomics data with deep clinical and histology-based phenotype and electronic medical record data. Dr. Pajukanta is especially interested in single cell RNA-sequencing studies of metabolic tissues to decompose cell-type proportions and cell-type specific expression of genes and their connections to cardiometabolic traits; as well as in genomic studies of the admixed Mexican population that has been underrepresented in genomic studies despite their high predisposition to obesity, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemias, fatty liver disease, and other cardiometabolic disorders. Dr. Pajukanta has served as a principal investigator in several NIH R01 grants and as a Project Leader of an NIH PPG grant. She has trained multiple undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students; taught graduate level courses; and served as a problem-based learning tutor of medical students. She is also the Director of the Genetics and Genomics Home Area of graduate education at UCLA; the Vice Chair in the Department of Human Genetics at UCLA; and the Director of Cardiometabolic Genomics at the Institute for Precision Health at UCLA.