Image of MariannPiano

Mariann Piano

Nancy and Hilliard Travis Professor of Nursing

Expert in substance abuse and cardiac disease, particularly binge drinking by young adults.


Dr. Piano has a distinguished career in substance abuse research focusing on understanding the adverse effects of unhealthy alcohol drinking patterns on the cardiovascular system. Studies are underway to determine the effects of binge drinking on cardiovascular function and risk factors in young adults. Young adulthood is when binge drinking is the highest and currently, more young adults consume 6-7 drinks per binge drinking episode, black out and choose hard liquor over beer. Compared to previous generations, the pervasiveness, intensity (i.e., 6-7 drinks) and regularity (several times per week) of binge drinking may place today's youth at greater risk for more profound rates of alcohol-related harm. Another area of research includes heart failure pathophysiology, symptoms and patient self-management. In particular, her research has focused on strategies (e.g. diuretic self-adjustment) to prevent frequent hospital admissions in heart failure patients and to identify mechanisms that underlie heart failure symptoms. Her research has been supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Center for Research Resources. She also holds the title of Professor Emerita at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she was Collegiate Professor of Nursing.

Media Appearances

  • More young adults becoming ‘sober curious’

    The trend brings a smile to Dr. Mariann Piano’s face. Piano is the senior associate dean for research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She’s studied the adverse effects of unhealthy alcohol drinking consumption. “Based on some very recent data, pretty much any level of alcohol drinking is associated with increases in blood pressure. Increases in blood pressure and hypertension are leading causes of stroke,” said Dr. Piano.

    February 2nd, 2024

  • I Drink Alcohol Regularly. What Can I Do to Mitigate the Risks?

    There’s no surefire way to offset the consequences of alcohol, said Mariann Piano, a professor and researcher at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing who studies the effects of alcohol use. It’s not like you can “run around the block one more time” to negate a night of heavy drinking, she said.

    September 12th, 2023

  • As more people skip out on alcohol, local businesses work to meet the moment

    If you do drink, it is important to be mindful of how much, according to Mariann Piano, the Senior Associate Dean for Research at Vanderbilt's School of Nursing. One thing she is looking into is the effect of binge drinking on cardiovascular function. "I know for myself that one idea we had was that sort of these habits that you develop in young adulthood might set you up for future increased vulnerability to certain diseases like cardiovascular disease," Piano said.

    February 7th, 2023

  • Even a Little Alcohol Can Harm Your Health

    However, said Mariann Piano, a professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University, “There’s been a lot of recent evidence that has really challenged the notion of any kind of what we call a cardio-protective or healthy effect of alcohol.”

    January 13th, 2023

  • 2X Monthly Alcohol

    “Binge drinking is pervasive on college campuses and among young adults,” said Mariann Piano, professor and head of the department of biobehavioral health science in the UIC College of Nursing. “More alarming, though, is the regularity of binge drinking episodes: one in five students report three or more binge drinking episodes in the prior two weeks.”

    April 1st, 2022

  • How Alcohol Affects the Heart

    Mariann R. Piano, a researcher who has published many studies on alcohol and cardiovascular health, and who was not involved with the new study, said that the findings represent an important step forward in our understanding of how alcohol affects the heart. She said that health care providers should have conversations with their patients, especially those who have atrial fibrillation, about how much alcohol they consume and whether it would be prudent for them to cut back or avoid it.

    August 30th, 2021

  • How Your Heart Health Can Be Hurt by Binge Drinking

    “Young adults think they are healthy, and practitioners think the same thing. You just don’t think it’s possible that they might be developing cardiovascular risk factors at this young age,” said Mariann R. Piano, PhD, RN, associate dean for research at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and lead author of the study.

    August 23rd, 2018

  • Young People Who Binge Drink Could Increase Risk of Stroke, Study Suggests

    Mariann Piano, an author of the study and professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University's School of Nursing, warned young people in a statement that they should be aware that the risks of drinking to excess extend beyond short-term poor school performance and an increased risk of accidental injury.

    August 13th, 2018

  • Heavier Alcohol Use In Youth May Put Heart And Brain At Risk

    The results are particularly alarming since heavy drinking has been on the rise. "Compared to previous generations, the pervasiveness, intensity (number of drinks) and regularity (several times per week) of binge drinking may place today's young adult at greater risk for more profound rates of alcohol-attributable harm," said Vanderbilt University’s Mariann Piano in a statement. "Young adults need to be aware that the consequences of repeated binge drinking may harm their hearts. The risk extends beyond poor school performance and increased risk for accidental injury.”

    June 29th, 2018

  • Knocking back as few as FOUR DRINKS on a night out puts young adults at risk of heart disease

    Lead author Professor Mariann Piano, from Vanderbilt University School, said: 'Compared to previous generations, the intensity - number of drinks - and regularity - several times per week - of binge drinking may place today's young adult at greater risk for alcohol-attributable harm.

    June 27th, 2018


Ph.D., University of Illinois

M.S., University of Illinois

B.S., Loyola University of Chicago


VUStar is a broadcast facility that links experts to you 24/7. The studio offers HD and SD transmission and an ISDN line for radio interviews. The studio, staffing and phone lines are free when using Vanderbilt experts.