Gary Pierce

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Departmental Executive Officer (DEO)/Professor
Human Physiology
Vascular aging, Vascular endothelial function, Arterial stiffness, Central blood pressure, Exercise physiology, Oxidative stress, Inflammation
End Degree:
Ph.D. (Exercise Physiology)
University of Florida
E102A FH
Email: Laboratory:
Translational Vascular Physiology Laboratory
Lab Website:

Human research labs: BT2112, BT2117 Clinical Research Unit, C204 GH, UIHC
Wet Lab: 522 FH, 510 FH

Post-doctoral Fellowship 

University of Colorado at Boulder (Integrative Physiology)


Certified, ACSM Clinical Exercise Physiologist

Courses Taught

  • HHP:4410/6410 Exercise Physiology/Adv Exercise Physiology
  • HHP:4150/6150 Clinical Exercise Physiology/Adv Clinical Exercise Physiology
  • HHP:4935 Clinical Exercise Physiology Internship
  • HHP:6400 Integrative Physiology Seminar
  • HHP:6000 Graduate Research
  • HHP:4500 Undergraduate Independent Study
  • HHP:4800/4900 Honors Research I/II

Research Interests

The goal of my research is to determine the mechanisms that contribute to vascular endothelial dysfunction and increased large elastic artery stiffness with aging, obesity, prediabetes, hypertension, COPD, anxiety and preeclampsia in humans. We use an integrative experimental approach, including non-invasive and semi-invasive approaches to assess vascular function in human subjects and study cells/tissues (endothelial and mononuclear cells, blood, adipose arterioles) from humans to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved. Another major focus is to test the efficacy of lifestyle, dietary and pharmacological interventions on preventing or treating vascular dysfunction in these groups. Lastly, we are also exploring cardiovascular disease risk factors that mediate vascular target organ damage in obese youth.

Selected Publications

Pierce GL Aortic Stiffness in Aging and Hypertension: Prevention and Treatment with Habitual Aerobic Exercise. Curr Hypertens Rep 2017; 19:90. doi: 10.1007/s11906-017-0788-0.

Lane-Cordova AD, Kalil GZ, Wagner CJ, Sindler AL, Fiedorowicz JG, Ajibewa T,Haynes WG, Pierce GL. Hemoglobin A1c and c-reactive protein are independently associated with blunted nocturnal blood pressure dipping in obesity-related prediabetes. Hypertens Res 2018;41:33-38.

Pierce GL. Recent Advances in Hypertension: Mechanisms and clinical consequences of aortic stiffness. Hypertension 2017;70:848-853.

Casey DP, Ueda K, Wegman-Points LJ, Pierce GL. Muscle contraction induced arterial shear stress increases endothelial nitric oxide synthase phosphorylation in humans. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 2017;Aug 11 [epub ahead of print].

DuBose LE, Voss MW, Weng TB, Kent JD, Dubishar KM, Lane-Cordova AD, Sigurdsson G, Schmid P, Barlow PB, Pierce GL. Carotid β-stiffness Index is Associated with Slower Processing Speed but not Working Memory or White Matter Integrity in Healthy Middle-Aged/Older Adults. J Appl Physiol 2017;122;868-876

Pierce GL, Kalil GZ, Ajibewa T, Holwerda SW, Persons J, Moser DJ, Fiedorowicz JG. Anxiety independently contributes to elevated inflammation in humans with obesity. Obesity 2017;25:286-289.

Pierce GL, Pajaniappan M, DiPietro A, Darracott-Woei-A-Sack K, Kapuku GK.  Abnormal central pulsatile hemodynamics in adolescents with obesity: higher aortic forward pressure wave amplitude is independently associated with greater left ventricular mass.  Hypertension 2016;68:1200-1207.

Pierce GL, Harris SA, Seals DR, Casey DP, Barlow P, Stauss HM. Estimated aortic stiffness is independently associated with cardiac baroreflex sensitivity in humans: role of aging and habitual endurance exercise. J Hum Hypertens 2016;30:513-520.

Kalil GZ, Recober A, Hoang-Tienor A, Zimmerman MB, Haynes WG, Pierce GL. Higher augmentation index is associated with tension-type headache and migraine in middle-aged/older humans with obesity. Obesity 2016;24(4):865-70.

Franklin SS, Pierce GL. Cardiorespiratory fitness and the attenuation of age-related rise in blood pressure: an important role for effective primordial prevention. J Amer Coll Cardiol 2014;64:1254-1256.

Pierce GL. Oral BH4: a novel remedy for age-related skin microvascular dysfunction during hyperthermia or fool’s elixir? J Appl Physiol 2013;115:951-3.

Pierce GL, Casey DP, Fiedorowicz JG, Seals DR, Curry TB, Barnes JN, Wilson D, Stauss HM. Aortic pulse wave velocity and reflecting distance estimation from peripheral waveforms in humans: detection of age- and exercise training-related differences. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 2013;305:H135-H142.

Pierce GL. Targeting vascular endothelial cell insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus: is protein kinase C Beta the bullseye for reducing vascular risk in diabetes? Circulation 2013,127:16-18.

Grant Funding

15SFRN23760002 American Heart Association: Pierce (PI)                                                     4/1/15 – 3/30/19
Strategically Focused Hypertension Research Network (SFRN)
Program: Novel Neuroendocrine Mechanisms in Preeclampsia: Vasopressin and Copeptin (Sigmund, C)
Clinical Science Project: Early vascular dysfunction and elevated copeptin in human preeclampsia
Role: Principal Investigator (20%)

13SDG143400012 American Heart Association: Pierce (PI)                                                      7/1/13 – 6/30/17
National Center Scientist Development Grant
Vascular dysfunction in human obesity hypertension: integrative role of sympathetic and renin- angiotensin systems
Role: Principal Investigator (25%)

2 P01 HL014388-41 NHLBI/NIH: Abboud (PI)                                                                            7/1/14 – 6/30/19
Program: Integrative Neurobiology of Cardiovascular Regulation
Project 2: Does anxiety cause vascular dysfunction through inflammation and SNS activation? (Abboud, F)
Role: Co-I (15%)

UI Center for Hypertension Research, Univ of Iowa: Pierce G; Rahmouni K (Co-PI)             1/1/15 – 6/30/16
Mechanisms of vascular endothelial dysfunction and aortic stiffness in obesity
Role: Co-Principal Investigator

1R21 AG048170-01A1  NIA/NIH: Voss (PI)                                                                                 7/1/15 – 6/30/17
Bridging acute and long-term exercise effects on brain function in older adults
Role: Co-investigator (5%)

1R01 AG049784-01A1 NIA/NIH: Dayal (PI)                                                                            9/15/15 – 4/30/20
Peroxide-mediated prothrombotic effects of aging
Role: Co-investigator (5%)

Career Development Award: Pierce (PI)                                                                               3/15/15 – 3/14/17
Environmental Health Sciences Research Center (EHSRC)
Large elastic artery stiffness, small airway disease and coronary calcium in COPD patients
Role: Principal Investigator

Honors and Awards

2016, Elected a Fellow of the American Heart Association
2015-2019 American Heart Association Strategically Focused Hypertension Research Network Grant, Clinical Science Project PI
2015-2017, Research Career Development Award, Environmental Health Sciences Research Center, University of Iowa
2013- 2017, Scientist Development Grant, American Heart Association National Center
2011-2013, KL2 Career Development Award, Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, University of Iowa
2010, H. Victor Moore Research Award, Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Georgia Health Sciences University
2009, Research Career Enhancement Award, American Physiological Society
2009, Environmental and Exercise Physiology Section Beginning Investigator Recognition Award, American Physiological Society
2008, Cardiovascular Section Young Investigator Research Recognition Award, American Physiological Society
2007, Summer Institute on Aging Research, National Institute on Aging, NIH
2006-2008, NIH Clinical Research Loan Repayment Program Award

Fellowships and Affiliations

Fellow, American Heart Association
Member, American Physiological Society
Member, American Heart Association
Member, North American Artery Society
Faculty member, Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center, University of Iowa
Faculty member, Abboud Cardiovascular research Center, University of Iowa
Faculty member, Center for Hypertension Research, University of Iowa
Faculty member, Abboud Cardiovascular research Center, University of Iowa
Faculty member, Center on Aging, University of Iowa
Associate Member, Environmental Health Sciences Research Center, University of Iowa