Gary Pierce

Photo of Gary Pierce
Associate Professor
Human Physiology
End Degree: 
Ph.D. (Exercise Physiology)
University of Florida
412 FH
Vascular aging, Vascular endothelial function, Arterial stiffness, Central blood pressure, Exercise physiology, Oxidative stress, Inflammation

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

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, 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. Feb 25. doi: 10.1038/jhh.2016.3

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.

Muntner P, Becker RC, Calhoun D, Chen D, Cowley AW Jr, Flynn JT, Grobe JL, Kidambi S, Kotchen TA, Lackland DT, Leslie KK, Li Y, Liang M, Lloyd A, Mattson DL, Mendizabal B, Mitsnefes M, Nair A, Pierce GL, Pollock JS, Safford MM, Santillan MK, Sigmund CD, Thomas SJ, Urbina EM. Introduction to the American Heart Association's Hypertension Strategically Focused Research Network. Hypertension. 2016;67:674-80

Montero D, Pierce GL, Stehouwer CD, Padilla J, Thijssen DH. The impact of age on vascular smooth muscle function in humans. J Hypertens 2015 Mar;33(3):445-53.

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 Jul 11. [epub ahead of print]

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.

Pierce GL, Zhu H, Darracott K, Edet I, Bhagatwala J, Huang Y, Dong Y. Arterial stiffness and pulse pressure amplification in overweight/obese african-american adolescents: relation with higher systolic and pulse pressure. Am J Hypertens 2013;26:20-26.

Pierce GL, Jablonski KL, Walker AE, Seibert SM, Black SM, Shruti S, Seals DR. Tetrahydrobiopterin supplementation enhances carotid artery compliance in healthy older men: a pilot study. Am J Hypertens 2012; 25:1050-1054.

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