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 Gaston Kapuku , MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine (Cardiology)
Co-Director of Cardiovascular Discovery Institute

Contact Information 

Dr. Kapuku is a cardiologist and cardiovascular physiologist with interest in hemodynamics, genetics and effects of gene-environment interaction on the expression of cardiovascular disease.  His research involves the identification of early bio-behavioral markers (e.g., chronic stress, inflammation, natriuretic hormones) of cardiac function abnormalities (i.e., diastolic dysfunction) in relation to hypertension and coronary artery disease. 

University of Nagasaki, Japan 1993

Cardiology Fellowship
Montreal Heart Institute, Montreal 1994-1997

University of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo 1983

Biobehavioral Medicine

Diastolic Function and Congestive Heart Failure

Gene-Environment Interaction and Preclinical Markers of Cardiovascular Disease

Health Disparity

Pre-clinical markers of Cardiovascular Disease

Music Project

Seed Grant (Kapuku/VanTuyll, PI)
January 26, 2016 through June 30, 2017
Role: Co-Principal Investigator

The purpose of this project is to determine whether strategies such as specific choices of music characteristics can enhance health. It is expected that lower levels of oxytocin will be associated with poor health outcomes including higher blood pressure, accelerated heart rate and poor test performance.

Bridge Funding

Georgia Health Sciences University
June 2014 through January 2016
Role: Principal Investigator

This application was submitted at the American Heart Association to tackle the effect of breath attention meditation on diastolic function of prehypertensive individuals. This application is a randomized clinical trial aiming to enhance the parasympathetic activity. A subsequent reversal of diastolic dysfunction abnormalities is expected especially in individuals with cluster of CVD risk factors (e.g., African Americans).


Diastolic Function, Stress & Natriuresis in Adults

NIH/NHLBI (Kapuku, PI)
September 2006 through June 2013
Role: Principal Investigator

This study tests whether (1) stress will be associated with changes in the separate components (isovolumetric relaxation, early and late filling phases) of diastolic function (DFx); (2) the effect of stress on the components of DFx will differ by race and/or gender; (3) stress-induced sodium excretion will correlate with concomitant stress-induced changes in diastolic function and (4) stress-induces sodium excretion will correlate with concomitant stress-induced changes in natriuretic peptides (ANP, BNP). 

Stress Related Mechanisms of Hypertension Risk

NHLBI (Treiber, PI)
April 2002 through March 2007
Role: Co-Investigator

This is a program project grant consisting of an integrated multidisciplinary program including 4 closely related projects examining the roles of stress lifestyle behaviors and genetic polymorphisms in the development of preclinical measures of essential hypertension.

Impaired Sodium Regulation in Obese Youth 

August 2003 through July 2007
Role: Co-Investigator

This application examines the effects of obesity on stress-induced pressure natriuresis in youth.

Stress Reduction: Impact on BP in African American Youths

NIH/NHLBI (Treiber, PI)
January 2005 through December 2009
Role: Co-Investigator

This application will investigate the effects of mindfulness meditation and lifestyle management practices on hemodynamics (primarily blood pressure) in adolescents. 

Genetic Architecture of Heart Rate Variability in Youth

American Heart Association (Wang, PI)
January 2007 through December 2010
Role: Co-Investigator 

The major goals of this project are to identify genetic variants and gene-gene interactions contributing to population variations in heart rate variability in a longitudinal cohort.

Stress Related Mechanisms of Hypertension Risk

NIH/NHLBI (Harshfield, PI)
July 2002 through June 2014
Role: Leader for Project 2 (3.0 calendar) and Biomedical Core Leader (3.0 calendar)

The PPG is an integrated multidisciplinary program including 4 closely related research projects (2 human, 2 animal) and 4 cores (administrative, bioassay, biomedical and data management/statistics). The 4 research projects examine the roles of stress exposure, lifestyle behaviors and genetic predisposition in the development of preclinical measures of essential hypertension. Adiposity has been included as a mediating factor in our gene/environment interaction model. Four vasoactive pathways (sympathetic nervous system, renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis system, and endothelial system) in conjunction with associated stress activated candidate genes will be examined which may link stress exposure to development of preclinical measures of hypertension.

Project leader of Project 2: Environmental Stress, Genes and Risk of Hypertension.

The objective of this Project is to ascertain how chronic environmental stress in combination with unfavorable genotypes via 2 new mechanistically pathways( hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis and oxidative stress) affects blood pressure reactivity to acute stress and development of preclinical cardiovascular disease. The Project will study a cohort of 300 African Americans and 370 European Americans (mean age= 25.5 years) who will have been evaluated 14 times over a 17 year period.

Echocardiography Core Lab

July 2013 through June 2014

Support cardiovascular research activities in the echocardiography core lab

Epigenetic Basis of Obesity Induced Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes

January 2011 through December 2015
Role: Co-Investigator

We aim to identify the differential methylation profiles between obese cases and lean controls and further evaluate whether these methylation changes are involved in the pathogenesis of obesity related co-morbidities.

Exercise and Overweight Children's Cognition

September 2010 through May 2013
Role: Co-Investigator

Sociodemographic Regulation of CV Function and Structure

April 2007 through April 2012
Role: Co-Investigator

This study examines the aspects of ethnicity that are associated with the differential expression of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes risk factors in African Americans and European Americans.  Given increasing awareness of the extent to which environments typically faced by these ethnic groups differ, environmental influence on these processes may be an important factor that is an aspect of ethnicity.  Since behavior is one pathway through which SES influences are thought to be expressed in disease, this proposal focuses specifically on stress responsivity, which is thought to be linked to the pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease.  The subject sample will consist of monozygotic and dizygotic twins.

Chronic Stress and Diastolic Function Trajectories in Young-Adults

Seed Grant/Cardiovascular Discovery Institute (GHSU)
April 2010 through June 2013
Role: Principal Investigator

The purpose of this research is to tackle mechanisms of stress related reduction of diastolic function during the normal aging process and forestall an epidemic expansion of congestive heart failure.

Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Diastolic Function in Older Adults

Bridge Grant/Cardiovascular Discovery Institute (GHSU)
June 2012 through November 2013
Role: Principal Investigator

The purpose of this research is to tackle Biobehavioral mechanisms of stress related reduction of diastolic function in adults aged 55-70 years.

Mentor: Engel group, APS Young Investigator Colloquium 2016

Mentor: Engel group, APS Young Investigator Colloquium 2015

Mentor: Engel group, APS Young Investigator Colloquium 2013

Elected Member of the Academy of Bio-behavioral Medicine Research

Invited chair and speaker: American Academy of Biobehavioral Medicine

Chair: Health Disparity Panel (APS), Athen, Greece

Chair: APS Diversity Committee/ Special Interest Group

Invited Speaker Second International Congress of Cardiology (China)

APS Council member and Chair of Diversity Committee/Special Interest Group

MCG President Award

Who's who in America

PEDHTN paper of the week: Pediatric International Society of Hypertension

Medical Fellowship Award: International Society of Hypertension in Blacks

Blue Ribbon Presentation: International Society of Hypertension in Blacks

Blue Ribbon Presentation: International Society of Hypertension in Blacks

Research Career Development Award

Health Care Heroes: Commended for bringing comfort and translation assistance (English-French) to a patient (5 west)

Selected presenter for the research symposium in memory of Dr. Markowitz at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Psychosomatic Medicine

Elected member of the Society for Pediatric Research

Recipient of Quebec Scientific Research Fund 

Recipient of Mombusho Scholarship (Japanese Government Ministry of Education)

MD with honors 

Pub Med
Hao G, Wang X, Treiber AF, Davis H, Leverett  S, Su S, Kapuku GK. Growth of carotid intima-media thickness in African American and European American young adults. Journal of American Heart Association 2016 (in press)

Hao G, Wang X, Treiber, AF, Harshfield G, Kapuku GK, Su S. Blood pressure trajectories from childhood to young adulthood associated with cardiovascular risk: Results from the 23-year longitudinal Georgia Stress and Heart study. Hypertension 2016 (in press)

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 Nov;68(5):1200-1207.

Ye C, Pan Y, Xu X, Su S, Snieder H, Treiber T, Kapuku G, Wang X. Pulse wave velocity in elastic and muscular arteries: tracking stability and association with anthropometric and hemodynamic measurements. Hypertension Research 2016 (in print)

Kapuku G , Treiber FA, Raouane F , Halbert J, Davis H, Youg-Mayes S, Robinson V,  Harshfield G. Race/ethnicity determines the relationships between oxidative stress markers and blood pressure in individuals with high cardiovascular disease risk. Journal of human Hypertension 2016, 1-6

Hill LK, Dixie D, Hu JK, Sollers JJ, Kapuku GK, Wang X, Snieder H, Thayer JF.  Ethnic Differences in  Resting Heart Rate Variability: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Psychosomatic Medicine  2015: 77:16-25 PMID: 25551201

Choksy P, Davis H, Januzzi J, Thayer J, Harshfield G, Robinson V, Kapuku GK. Brain Natriuretic Hormone Predicts Stress-Induced Alterations in Diastolic Function.  Am J Med Sci. 2014; 348:366-70 PMID: 24841419

Su S, Zhu H, Xu X, Wang X, Dong Y, Kapuku G, Treiber F, Gutin B, Harshfield G, Snieder H, Wang X. Twin Res Hum Genet. 2014 Jun;17(3):183-91. DNA methylation of the LY86 gene is associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and inflammation. PMID: 24735745

Su S,  Wang X, Kapuku GK, Treiber F, Pollock D, Harshfield G, McCall W, Pollock J. Adverse Childhood Experiences Are Associated With Detrimental Hemodynamics and Elevated Circulating Endothelin-1 in Adolescents and Young Adults.  Hypertension  2014;64(1):201-7   PMID: 24777980

Gregoski MJ, Buxbaum SG, Kapuku GK, Dong Y, Zhu H, Davis M, Gonto K, Treiber FA. Interactive Influences of Ethnicity, Endothelin-1 Gene, and Everyday Discrimination Upon Nocturnal Ambulatory Blood Pressure. Ann Behav Med. 2013 Feb 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Diana G Murro, Melinda Beavers, Gregory A Harshfield , Kapuku GK.  Dysregulation of Aldosterone Contributes to Elevated Left Ventricular Mass in Black Boys. Pediatr Nephrol. 2013;28:655-660

Kapuku GK, Davis H, Murdison K, Robinson V, Harshfield G. Stress reduces diastolic function in youth. Psychosom Med. 2012 Jul-Aug;74(6):588-95. Epub 2012 Jun 28.

Kapuku GK, Davis HC, Thomas P, Januzzi J, Harshfield GA. Does the relationship between natriuretic hormones and diastolic function differ by race? (Am J Med Sci 2012) PMID:22314104

Barnes V, Kapuku G, Treiber F. Impact of Transcendental Meditation on Left Ventricular Mass in African American Adolescents. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:923153. Epub 2012 May 22.

Harshfield G, Dong Y, Kapuku GK, Hanevold C. Stress-induced sodium retention and hypertension: a review and hypothesis. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2009 Feb;11(1):29-34. Review.

Kapuku GK, Davis H, Shah N, Mc Millan, Harshfield GA. Gender differences in diastolic function in youth. Pediatr Cardiol 2008 Jan;29(1): 102-7.

Zhu H, Yan W, Tan Y, Li K, Kapuku G, Treiber FA, Su S, Harshfield GA, Snieder H, Dong Y.Adhesion molecule polymorphisms and pulse wave velocity in American youth. Twin Res Hum Genet. 2008 Oct;11(5):517-23.

Kapuku GK, Ge D, Vemulapalli S, Harshfield GA, Treiber FA, Snieder H. Change of genetic determinants of left ventricular structure in adolescence: longitudinal evidence from the Georgia cardiovascular twin study. Am J Hypertens. 2008 Jul;21(7):799-805.

Ge D, Young T, Wang X, Kapuku GK, Treiber F, Snieder H. Heritability of Arterial Stiffness in Black- and White American Youth and Young Adults. Am J Hypertens. 2007 Oct;20(10):1065-72.

Zhu H, Yang W, Ge D, Treiber F, Harshfield G, Kapuku G, Sneider H, Dong Y. Relationships of cardiovascular phenotypes with healthy weight at risk of overweight and overweight in US youth. Pediatrics 121;115-22, 2008

Zhu H, Yang W, Ge D, Treiber F, Harshfield G, Kapuku G, Sneider H, Dong Y. Cardiovascular characteristics in American Youth with Prehypertension. Amer J Hypertens 20;1051-7, 2007

Harshfield G, Kapuku GK, Ortiz L, Hanevold C, Dong Y, Wilson M. The association of race and sex to the pressure natriuresis response to stress. Eth Dis. 207;17:498-502, 2007

Gutin B, Johnson M, Humphries MC, Hatfield-Laude JL, Kapuku GK, Allison JD, Gower BA, Daniels SR, Barbeau P. Relations of visceral adiposity to cardiovascular disease risk factors in black and white teens. Obesity 15;1029-35, 2007

Kapuku GK, Harshfield G, Davis H, Treiber F. Early markers of cardiovascular disease. Vascular Pharmacology 45; 277-80, 2006.

Mensah G, Ryan US, Hooper WC, Engelgau MM, Callow AD, Kapuku GK, Mantovani A. Vascular endothelium summary statement II: Cardiovascular disease prevention and control. Vascular Pharmacology 45; 277-80, 2006

Kapuku G, Treiber F, Hartley B, Ludwig D. Influence of Gender on endothelial Dependant arterial dilation in youth with positive family history of hypertension. Am J Med Sci 2004; 327:305-309

Hartley B, Treiber F, Ludwig D, Kapuku GK. Correlates of femoral artery flow-mediated dilation in multi-ethnic sample of youth. Ethnicity and Disease 2004; 14:227-32

Wilson ME, Harshfield GA, McLeod K, Mackey L, Hanevold C, Kapuku GK, Gillis D, Edmonds L. Lean body mass facilitates stress-induced pressure natriuresis in African-American youth. Amer J Hypertens 2004; 17:1023-8



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