Sandra Laston Ph.D.

Faculty Profile Picture

Associate Professor of Research

South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute

School of Medicine

Office: Brownsville Campus, BROBL, Room 108
1 West University Blvd
Brownsville, TX.  78520
Phone: +1 (956)-882-7490


1992 Ph.D. Medical Anthropology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA
1987 M.A. Medical Anthropology Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA
1972 Diploma Nursing, Idabelle Firestone School of Nursing, Akron, OH

Research Focus

Dr. Laston’s research efforts are focused on oversight of large-scale genetic studies conducted with human populations.   With specialized expertise in medical anthropology and nursing, Dr. Laston has directed the fieldwork for studies of a number of minority populations including Alaska Natives, Zuni Indians and other American Indian tribes.  Her current research is focused on ocular health and disease in the Jirel population of eastern Nepal.  A member of the UTRGV institutional review board, Dr. Laston has strong interests in the design of human subjects research projects and cross-cultural research.    

Intramural Appointments

  • UTRGV Institutional Review Board

Publication Highlights

  • Siddique AK, Salam A, Islam MS, Akram K, Majumdar RN, Zaman K, Fronczak N, Laston SL. Why treatment centers failed to prevent cholera deaths among Rwandan refugees in Goma, Zaire. Lancet. 1995:345:359-61.
  • Ebbesson SOE, Laston S, Wenger CR, Dyke B, Romenesko T, Swenson M, Fabsitz R, MacCluer JW, Devereux R, Roman M, Robbins D, Howard BV. Recruitment and community interactions in the GOCADAN Study. Int. J. Circumpolar Health. 2006:65:55-64. PMID: 16544648
  • Laston SL, Voruganti VS, Haack K, Shah VO, Bobelu A, Bobelu J, Ghahate D, Harford AM, Paine SS, Tentori F, Cole SA, MacCluer JW, Comuzzie AG, Zager PG. Genetics of kidney disease and related cardiometabolic phenotypes in Zuni Indians: the Zuni Kidney Project. Front Genet. 2015 Jan 30;6:6. PMID: 25688259; PMCID: PMC4311707. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2015.00006

Recent Publications

Journal Articles

  • Balakrishnan P, Vaidya D, Franceschini N, Voruganti VS, Gribble MO, Haack K, Laston S, Umans JG, Francesconi KA, Goessler W, North KE, Lee E, Yracheta J, Best LG, MacCluer JW, Kent J, Cole SA, Navas-Acien A. Association of Cardiometabolic Genes with Arsenic Metabolism Biomarkers in American Indian Communities: The Strong Heart Family Study (SHFS). Environ Health Perspect. 2017 Jan;125(1):15-22. doi: 10.1289/EHP251. Epub 2016 Jun 28. PMID: 27352405; PMCID: PMC5226702.

  • Chittoor G, Haack K, Mehta NR, Laston S, Cole SA, Comuzzie AG, Butte NF, Voruganti VS.  Genetic variation underlying renal uric acid excretion in Hispanic children: the Viva La Familia Study.  BMC Med Genet. 2017 Jan 17;18(1):6. doi: 10.1186/s12881-016-0366-3.  PMID:28095793; PMCID: PMC5240212.
    Vazquez-Vidal I, Chittoor G, Laston S, Puppala S, Kayani Z, Mody K, Comuzzie AG, Cole SA, Voruganti VS. Assessment of cardiovascular disease risk factors in a genetically homogenous population of Parsi Zoroastrians in the United States: A pilot study. Am J Hum Biol. 2016 May;28(3):440-3. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22834. Epub 2016 Jan 28. PubMed PMID: 26819065.

  • Gribble MO, Voruganti VS, Cole SA, Haack K, Balakrishnan P, Laston SL, Tellez-Plaza M, Francesconi KA, Goessler W, Umans JG, Thomas DC, Gilliland F, North KE, Franceschini N, Navas-Acien A. Linkage analysis of urine arsenic species patterns in the Strong Heart Family Study. Toxicol Sci. 2015 Nov;148(1):89-100. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfv164. Epub 2015 Jul 23. PubMed PMID: 26209557; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4731407.

  • Voruganti VS, Laston S, Haack K, Mehta NR, Cole SA, Butte NF, Comuzzie AG. Serum uric acid concentrations and SLC2A9 genetic variation in Hispanic children: The Viva La Familia Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Apr;101(4):725-32. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.095364. Epub 2015 Jan 28. PubMed PMID: 25833971; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4381775.

  • Tsai CW, North KE, Tin A, Haack K, Franceschini N, Saroja Voruganti V, Laston S, Zhang Y, Best LG, MacCluer JW, Beaty TH, Navas-Acien A, Kao WH, Howard BV. Both rare and common variants in PCSK9 influence plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level in American Indians. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Feb;100(2):E345-9. doi: 10.1210/jc.2014-3340. Epub 2014 Nov 20. PubMed PMID: 25412415; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4318886.

  • Laston SL, Voruganti VS, Haack K, Shah VO, Bobelu A, Bobelu J, Ghahate D, Harford AM, Paine SS, Tentori F, Cole SA, MacCluer JW, Comuzzie AG, Zager PG. Genetics of kidney disease and related cardiometabolic phenotypes in Zuni Indians: The Zuni Kidney Project. Front Genet. 2015 Jan 30;6:6. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2015.00006. eCollection 2015. PubMed PMID: 25688259; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4311707.

  • Ebbesson SO, Voruganti VS, Higgins PB, Fabsitz RR, Ebbesson LO, Laston S, Harris WS, Kennish J, Umans BD, Wang H, Devereux RB, Okin PM, Weissman NJ, MacCluer JW, Umans JG, Howard BV. Fatty acids linked to cardiovascular mortality are associated with risk factors. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2015 Aug 12;74:28055. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v74.28055. eCollection 2015. PubMed PMID: 26274054; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4536775.

Collaborating Institutions

  • Baylor College of Medicine

  • Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health    

  • Texas Biomedical Research Institute    

  • Wright State University, Dayton, OH

  • Miami University, Oxford, OH

  • Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology