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Gary Pierce, PhD

Contact Information

Office: 412 FH 
Phone: 319-335-9487 
Faculty Profile

Brief description of current research:

The goal of my research is to understand the mechanisms that contribute to macro- and micro- vascular dysfunction with aging, obesity, hypertension and prediabetes preeclampsia, anxiety and COPD 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 cells, mononuclear cells, blood, adipose) from humans to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in abnormal vascular function. A complementary goal is testing the efficacy of pharmacological and lifestyle interventions on arterial endothelial dysfunction and large elastic artery (e.g. aorta, carotid) stiffness in adults at high risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Our lab has specific expertise in measuring endothelial function in human subjects including brachial artery flow-mediated dilation, forearm blood flow during intra-brachial artery infusions of vasoactive drugs, assessment of aortic and carotid artery stiffness via pulse wave velocity via applanation tonometry and high resolution echocardiography, and sympathetic nerve activity using microneurography. Human studies are complemented with novel ex vivo quantification of expression of selected proteins from primary vascular endothelial cells from human subjects in order to gain translational insight into cellular/molecular mechanisms that contribute to vascular dysfunction and the responses to drug and lifestyle interventions.We are also interested in the hemodynamic mechanisms that contribute to higher cardiovascular risk in children/adolescents with obesity.   

3 most influential diabetes/obesity/metabolism publications:

  • 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, Kalil GZ, Ajibewa T, Holwerda SW, Persons J, Moser DJ, Fiedorowicz JG. Anxiety independently contributes to elevated inflammation in humans with obesity.  Obesity (Silver Spring) 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.


My immediate and extended family has a long history of prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease and the vascular complications associated from these diseases.  My goal is to take novel findings discovered in the basic labs and test these interventions in adults with obesity and prediabetes to directly test whether these therapies prevent or reverse the vascular complications associated with aging, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.