Mariann R. Piano, PhD, FAAN, FAHA

  • Professor Emerita

Dr. Piano's research program has two main trajectories: the first is directed at understanding the adverse cardiovascular effects of unhealthy alcohol drinking patterns (eg., long-term heavy and binge alcohol consumption).  Using an animal, an important focus has been to identify systemic (neurohormones) and cellular/molecular (mitogen-activated protein kinases, apoptosis) mechanisms that underlie the cardiotoxic effects of alcohol. Her research has also considered how the presence of ovarian hormones or female sex as well as other factors such as cigarette smoke might modulate the effects of alcohol.  Currently, studies are underway to determine the effects of binge drinking on cardiovascular function and risk factors (traditional and novel) in young adults. Regular heavy episodic alcohol use (or "binge drinking") is one of the most serious public health problems confronting American colleges, yet the cardiovascular consequences are unknown. The second research trajectory is in the area of heart failure pathophysiology, symptoms and patient self-management. In particular her research has focused on strategies (eg. diuretic self-adjustment) to prevent frequent hospital admissions in heart failure patients and to identify mechanisms that underlie heart failure symptoms.  Dr. Piano is an expert in the following areas: alcohol consumption and cardiovascular effects, animal models of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, heart failure pathophysiology and treatment and cardiovascular physiology. Her research has been supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Center for Research Resources.

Recent interview with Dr. Piano regarding the drinking age: "Should The Drinking Age Be Lowered? Experts Weigh In", WalletHub (July 21, 2016).

Current Area of Teaching

Dr. Piano's primary teaching expertise and experience is in the area of physiology, pathophysiology and cardiovascular nursing. Areas of physiology expertise include: signal transduction, smooth muscle, skeletal and cardiac muscle, and gastrointestinal physiology. Within the area of cardiovascular nursing, her areas of expertise include: heart failure and alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Dr. Piano coordinates the graduate level physiology and pathophysiology class within the College of Nursing and also teaches graduate level seminars on writing for publication.

Student Opportunities

Dr. Mariann Piano is currently accepting Doctoral (PhD) students who are interested in working in two of the following areas: 1) the adverse effects of alcohol on the cardiovascular system and biomarkers of unhealthy alcohol consumption and 2) heart failure symptoms and self-care behaviors and interventions to improve management of heart failure-related symptoms.  Dr. Piano is also accepting Doctorate of Nursing Practice students interested in examining best practices for heart failure patients.

Selected Honors & Awards
  • 2010 University of Illinois, Graduate Mentoring Award
  • 2008 Katherine Lembright Award, American Heart Association, Council on    Cardiovascular Nursing 
  • 2007 Distinguished Alumnus Award. Loyola University of Chicago School of Nursing. 
  • 2006 Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
  • 2003 Visiting Scholar, Queens University, School of Nursing, Kingston, Canada. March 10-14.
  • 2002 Appeared in the British Broadcasting Corporation documentary: Booze/Last Orders. Aired in England, March 26, 2002 (also available on video).
Selected Publications
  • Goslawski M, Piano, M.R. Bian, J-T., Church E., Szczurek, M. Phillips, S.A. Repeated episodes of binge drinking impairs vascular function in young college-age adults. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 16;62(3):201-207: 2013.* PMID: 23623907. (Selected for Editorial comment).
  • Vuckovic K., Phillips, S. Piano, M.R. Effects of exercise interventions on peripheral vascular endothelial vasoreactivity in patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. Heart, Lung and Circulation.  Jan 19, 2013. 
  • Gu, L.,  Fink, A., Chowdhury, S.A.K., Geenen, D.L. Piano, M.R.  Mitogen activated protein kinase and cardiovascular responses to repeated episodes of binge drinking in a pre-clinical animal model. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 2013 Mar-Apr;48(2):131-7
  • Fink, A.M.,  Gonzalez, R.C., Lisowski, T., Pini, M., Fantuzzi, G., Levy, W.C.,  Piano, M.R. Fatigue, Inflammation, and Projected Mortality in Heart Failure. Journal of Cardiac Failure. 18(9);711-716: 2012.
  • Piano, M.R., Prasun,A. M., Stamos T., Groo V.   Flexible diuretic titration in chronic heart failure: Where is the Evidence? Journal of Cardiac Failure.  17(11):944-954:2011.
Current Research
  • Piano, M. R. (PI). Binge drinking and cigarette smoking: A rodent model. NIH, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (R21 AA015578).