Rachel J. Keith, Ph.D., APRN, ANP-C

Associate Professor of Medicine


502-852-4211 E-mail

Education and Training

Ph.D.: University of Louisville, Physiology and Biophysics
BSN: University of Louisville
MSN: University of Louisville
Postdoctoral Fellowship: University of Louisville, Diabetes and Obesity Center


Research Interests

My research experience started with the Molecular Cardiology Center and progressed to the Diabetes and Obesity Center. The focus of this research was on understanding the cardiprotection of late phase preconditioning to the damage associated with myocardial infarction. Previous studies have implicated inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and aldose reductase (AR) as mediators of late phase preconditioning. These proteins are all endogenous, and there are ways to increase the proteins’ expression for brief periods of time through lifestyle changes.

Since I already had a unique understanding of the biochemical pathways that regulate cytoprotection in the heart, my interest began to focus on how to translate this to humans. Thus, I began to pursue a graduate level nursing degree to facilitate the transition to human studies. This pursuit led me participate in human studies with neonatal medicine where we investigated the potential protective effect of iNO on lung disease in neonates.

In addition, I have participated in various studies ranging from telemedicine studies of retinopathy of prematurity to survey studies for adults who were once in the neonatal intensive care and received Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). I participated in all aspects of these human studies including screening, consenting, data collection, regulatory components, proposal submission, and manuscript writing. After completion of my nurse practitioner license, I returned to the DOC to coordinate human studies. I am also an investigator on several projects of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Included in this work is a new grant which will focus on many aspects of regulation, attitudes toward, and injury associated with tobacco use. These and other studies will allow me to incorporate clinical care with my knowledge of mechanistic injury in cardiovascular disease and diabetes. By combining the two skill sets, I will be able to expand my translational research of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.


Featured Publications

  • Majid S, Keith RJ, Fetterman JL, Weisbrod RM, Nystoriak J, Wilson T, Stokes AC, Blaha MJ, Srivastava S, Robertson RM, Bhatnagar A, Hamburg NM. Lipid profiles in users of combustible and electronic cigarettes. Vasc Med. 2021 May 20:1358863X211009313. doi: 10.1177/1358863X211009313. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34013801.
  • Oshunbade AA, Kassahun-Yimer W, Valle KA, Hamid A, Kipchumba RK, Kamimura D, Clark D 3rd, White WB, DeFilippis AP, Blaha MJ, Benjamin EJ, O'Brien EC, Mentz RJ, Rodriguez CJ, Fox ER, Butler J, Keith RJ, Bhatnagar A, Marie Robertson R, Correa A, Hall ME. Cigarette Smoking, Incident Coronary Heart Disease, and Coronary Artery Calcification in Black Adults: The Jackson Heart Study. J Am Heart Assoc. 2021 Apr 6;10(7):e017320. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.120.017320. Epub 2021 Mar 23. PMID: 33754833; PMCID: PMC8174312.
  • Keith R, Bhatnagar A. Cardiorespiratory and Immunologic Effects of Electronic Cigarettes. Curr Addict Rep. 2021 Mar 5:1-11. doi: 10.1007/s40429-021-00359-7. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33717828; PMCID: PMC7935224.
  • Riggs DW, Yeager R, Conklin DJ, DeJarnett N, Keith RJ, DeFilippis AP, Rai SN, Bhatnagar A. Residential proximity to greenness mitigates the hemodynamic effects of ambient air pollution. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2021 Mar 1;320(3):H1102-H1111. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00689.2020. Epub 2021 Jan 8. PMID: 33416460.
  • O'Toole TE, Amraotkar AA, DeFilippis AP, Rai SN, Keith RJ, Baba SP, Lorkiewicz P, Crandell CE, Pariser GL, Wingard CJ, Pope Iii CA, Bhatnagar A. Protocol to assess the efficacy of carnosine supplementation in mitigating the adverse cardiovascular responses to particulate matter (PM) exposure: the Nucleophilic Defense Against PM Toxicity (NEAT) trial. BMJ Open. 2020 Dec 28;10(12):e039118. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-039118. PMID: 33372072; PMCID: PMC7772308.
  • Irfan AB, Arab C, DeFilippis AP, Lorkiewicz P, Keith RJ, Xie Z, Bhatnagar A, Carll AP. Smoking Accelerates Atrioventricular Conduction in Humans Concordant with Increased Dopamine Release. Cardiovasc Toxicol. 2021 Feb;21(2):169-178. doi: 10.1007/s12012-020-09610-5. Epub 2020 Oct 12. PMID: 33043409; PMCID: PMC7855806.
  • Fetterman JL, Keith RJ, Palmisano JN, McGlasson KL, Weisbrod RM, Majid S, Bastin R, Stathos MM, Stokes AC, Robertson RM, Bhatnagar A, Hamburg NM. Alterations in Vascular Function Associated With the Use of Combustible and Electronic Cigarettes. J Am Heart Assoc. 2020 May 5;9(9):e014570. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.119.014570. Epub 2020 Apr 29. PMID: 32345096; PMCID: PMC7428567.
  • Keith RJ, Fetterman JL, Orimoloye OA, Dardari Z, Lorkiewicz PK, Hamburg NM, DeFilippis AP, Blaha MJ, Bhatnagar A. Characterization of Volatile Organic Compound Metabolites in Cigarette Smokers, Electronic Nicotine Device Users, Dual Users, and Nonusers of Tobacco. Nicotine Tob Res. 2020 Feb 6;22(2):264-272. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntz021. PMID: 30759242; PMCID: PMC7297089.
  • Yeager R, Riggs DW, DeJarnett N, Srivastava S, Lorkiewicz P, Xie Z, Krivokhizhina T, Keith RJ, Srivastava S, Browning MHEM, Zafar N, Krishnasamy S, DeFilippis A, Turner J, Rai SN, Bhatnagar A. Association between residential greenness and exposure to volatile organic compounds. Sci Total Environ. 2020 Mar 10;707:135435. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135435. Epub 2019 Nov 23. PMID: 31865083; PMCID: PMC7294698.
  • Lorkiewicz P, Riggs DW, Keith RJ, Conklin DJ, Xie Z, Sutaria S, Lynch B, Srivastava S, Bhatnagar A. Comparison of Urinary Biomarkers of Exposure in Humans Using Electronic Cigarettes, Combustible Cigarettes, and Smokeless Tobacco. Nicotine Tob Res. 2019 Aug 19;21(9):1228-1238. doi: 10.1093/ntr/nty089. PMID: 29868926; PMCID: PMC6698950.