About Dr. Kirabo

About Me

Dr. Annet Kirabo obtained a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Makerere University, Uganda. She subsequently traveled to the United States to obtain subspecialty training in Veterinary Medicine, and became interested in an advanced degree in basic science. She received a Masters Degree in Cell and Molecular Biology at St. Cloud State University, Minnesota where she worked in Dr. Oladele Gazals laboratory to define the role of leptin in linking nutrition to reproduction. She went on to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Florida, where she worked with Dr. Peter Sayeski in Physiology, studying the role of Jak2 in hypertension. Dr. Kirabo completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Dr. David Harrisons laboratory. During her post-doctoral training, Dr. Kirabo defined a novel pathway of immune activation in hypertension, involving formation of isoketal-protein adducts in dendritic cells. Isoketals are oxidized lipid products that rapidly react with lysines on self-proteins. Dr. Kirabo showed that these modified proteins likely act as neoantigens, and that scavenging of isoketals prevents the ability of dendritic cells to activate T cells and ultimately reduces hypertension. She was recruited back to Vanderbilt as a faculty member in the Department of Medicine and is now a research instructor in the Division of Clinical Pharmacology. Her current research focuses on understanding how isoketals act as neoantigens in hypertension by modifying MHC associated peptides and if excess salt contributes to their formation. Dr. Kirabo has established a track record of obtaining extramural funding at all levels of her training, having received both pre-doctoral and post-doctoral American Heart Association Fellowships and a K01 grant from the National Institutes of Health. She has published 20 original papers and review/book chapters with 8 being first author.


Dr. Kirabo is interested in understanding the role of inflammation in hypertension. She obtained her PhD from the Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics at the University of Florida College of Medicine in August 2011. During her PhD training, she was awarded an American Heart Association (AHA) predoctoral fellowship to determine the specific involvement of vascular smooth muscle cell expression of Jak2 in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. As a postdoctoral research fellow under the mentorship of Dr. David Harrison at Vanderbilt, she has investigated the role of inflammation in hypertension. Her studies have found that hypertension leads to activation of antigen presenting dendritic cells and that this is superoxide- and isoketal-mediated. She was awarded an AHA postdoctoral fellowship to complete these studies, which are now published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Dr. Kirabos current work involves investigating the mechanisms by which sodium promotes production of immunogenic isoketals in dendritic cells and how these isoketals act as neoantigens in hypertension.

Dr. Kirabo was recently the Featured Researcher within Vanderbilt StarBRITE for the month of September 2016. She was recognized for winning the Mentored Research Scientist Development Award.

Read the StarBRITE Article here.


  • D.V.M. Makerere University, Uganda
  • M.S. Cell and Molecular Biology, St. Cloud State University
  • Ph.D. Physiology and Functional Genomics, University of Florida