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Kenia Pedrosa Nunes

Associate Professor | Biomedical Engineering and Science

Program Chair | Biomedical Science

Contact Information

Personal Overview

I am a vascular biologist who studies diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and erectile dysfunction (ED). I received my master’s degree in Molecular and Biochemistry Pharmacology and my Ph.D. in Human Physiology from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. My work includes research and two patents on using a spider toxin (PnTx2-6) to treat ED. This research project has been performed in collaboration with scientists in Brazil. In 2009, as a postdoctoral fellow at Augusta University (former Medical College of Georgia), I studied how the innate immune system contributes to vascular dysfunction in chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. In 2015 I joined Florida Tech and started the Vascular Biology lab. Currently, my lab research is focused on molecules such as HSP70 and TLR4 as pharmacological targets to mitigate vascular problems.  

Educational Background

Post-doc. Vascular Biology - Medical College of Georgia - Augusta University, USA

Ph.D. Physiology - Federal University of Minas Gerais - Brazil

M.Sc. Biomedical & Molecular Pharmacology - Federal University of Minas Gerais - Brazil

B.S. Biology - Federal University of Minas Gerais - Brazil 

Professional Experience

  • 2021-Current: Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical & Chemical Engineering & Sciences
  • 07/2015- 2020: Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Sciences, FIT
  • 06/2013-06/2015: Associate Scientist, Department of Cell and Regenerative Biology, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin;
  • 06/2012-2013: Assistant Research Scientist, Augusta University, Medical College of Georgia, Department of Physiology;
  • 02/2009-2012: Postdoctoral Fellow, Augusta University, Medical College of Georgia, Department of Physiology,
  • 02/2004-2008: Assistant Professor of Physiology, University President Antonio Carlos, Nursing School, Campus in Conselheiro Lafaiete, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Current Courses

Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II 

Applied Physiology

Scientific Skills - Vascular Function and Dysfunction

Cardiovascular Mechanisms and Pathways

Biological Research 


Selected Publications

Publications in the past four years out of 51 total peer-reviewed manuscripts. 


Increased eHSP70-to-iHSP70 ratio disrupts vascular responses to calcium and activates the TLR4-MD2 complex in type 1 diabetes. de Oliveira AA*, Priviero F, Webb RC, Nunes KPLife Sciences; 310:121079, 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.lfs.2022.121079

Drugs from animal venoms: Overcoming the challenges to treat erectile dysfunction. De Lima ME, Nunes KP. Venoms and Toxins; vol 2, issue 2, 2022. DOI: 10.2174/2666121702666220425111433

Connecting aortic stiffness to vascular contraction: Does sex matter? de Oliveira AA*, Priviero F, Delgado A*, Pengfei D, Mendoza VO*, Gu L, Webb RC, Nunes KP. International Journal of Molecular Sciences; 23(19):11314, 2022. DOI: 10.3390/ijms23191131.

New insights into the role and therapeutic potential of HSP70 in diabetes. de Oliveira AA*, Mendoza VO*, Rastogi S*, Nunes KP. Pharmacological Research, 178:106173, 2022. DOI:  10.1016/j.phrs.2022.106173

Age-related decline in vascular responses to phenylephrine is associated with reduced levels of HSP70. de Oliveira AA*, Mendoza VO, Priviero F, Webb RC, Nunes KP. Biomolecules; 12(8):1125, 2022. DOI: 10.3390/biom12081125

This original article was selected as “Editor Choice”.

From the PnTx2-6 toxin to the PnPP-19 Engineered Peptide: Therapeutic Potential in Erectile Dysfunction, Nociception, and Glaucoma. da Silva CN, Nunes KP, Dourado LFN, Vieira TO, Mariano XM, Cunha Junior ADS, de Lima ME. Front Mol Biosci,11;9:831823, 2022. DOI: 10.3389/fmolb.2022.831823


Impaired HSP70 expression in the aorta of female rats: a novel insight into sex-specific differences in vascular function. de Oliveira AA*, Priviero F, Webb RC, Nunes KPFrontiers in Physiology, 12:517, 2021. DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2021.666696

COVID-19 and ROS Storm: What is the Forecast for hypertension. de Oliveira AA, Priviero F, Lima VV, Webb RC, Nunes KP. Am J Hypertension, 9;34(8):779-782, 2021. DOI: 10.1093/ajh/hpab085.

The synthetic peptide PnPP-19 potentiates erectile function via nNOS- and iNOS. CN da Silva, KP Nunes, FM Almeida, GC Silva, PS Cunha, TF Diniz, LM Maia, VS Lemos; DA Gomes, ME de Lima. Nitric Oxide, 113-114: 23-30, 2021. DOI:

New insights into RhoA/Rho-kinase signaling: a key regulator of vascular contraction. Nunes KP, Webb RC. Small GTPases. 12(5-6):458-469, 2021. DOI: 10.1080/21541248.2020.1822721

Crosstalk of TLR4, vascular NADPH oxidase, and COVID-19 in diabetes: What are the potential implications? de Oliveira AA* & Nunes KP. Vascular Pharmacology; 26:106879, 2021. DOI: 10.1016/j.vph.2021.106879

Medical Xpress highlighted this topical review.


Dissecting the interaction between HSP70 and vascular contraction: role of Ca2+ handling mechanisms. de Oliveira AA, Priviero F, Tostes R, Webb RC, Nunes K. Scientific Reports, 11:1420, 2020. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-80966-6

Hypertension and erectile dysfunction: breaking down the challenges. de Oliveira AA*, Nunes KP.  American Journal of Hypertension. 34(2):134-142, 2020. DOI: 10.1093/ajh/hpaa143

This article was written to fulfill an invitation from Dr. Ernesto Schiffrin, Editor-in-Chief of the AJH.

Blockade of TLR4-MD2 complex lowers blood pressure and improves vascular function in a murine model of type 1 diabetes. AA de Oliveira*, J Faustino*, RC Webb, KP Nunes. Scientific Reports 10, 12032, 2020. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-68919-x

An additional physiological role for HSP70: Assistance of vascular reactivity. AA de Oliveira* & KP Nunes. Life Sciences, 117986, 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.lfs.2020.117986

Angiotensin (1-7) Inhibits Ang II-mediated ERK1/2 Activation by Stimulating MKP-1 Activation in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells. A Sousa-Lopes, R Alves de Freitas, FS Carneiro, KP Nunes, et al. International Journal of Molecular and Cellular Medicine (IJMCM), 9 (1), 50-61, 2020. DOI: 10.22088/IJMCM.BUMS.9.1.50

Blockade of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) reduces oxidative stress and restores phospho-ERK1/2 levels in Leydig cells exposed to high glucose. T Karpova, AA de Oliveira*, H Naas*, F Priviero, KP Nunes. Life Sciences, 117365, 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.lfs.2020.117365


Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) as a possible pathological mechanism in hyperglycemia-associated testicular dysfunction. H Naas*, AA de Oliveira*, T Karpova, KP Nunes. Medical Hypotheses, 127, 116-119, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2019.04.010

Toll-like receptor 4 and blood pressure: Lessons from animal studies. KP Nunes, AA de Oliveira*, VV Lima, RC Webb. Frontiers in Physiology, 655, 2019. DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00655

Unveiling the interplay between the TLR4/MD2 complex and HSP70 in the human cardiovascular system: a computational approach. AA de Oliveira*, J Faustino*, ME de Lima, R Menezes, KP Nunes. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 20 (13), 3121, 2019. DOI: 10.3390/ijms20133121

PnPP-19 Peptide Restores Erectile Function in Hypertensive and Diabetic Animals Through Intravenous and Topical Administration. CN da Silva, KP Nunes, FDM Almeida, FLS Costa, PV Borges, P Lacativa, et al. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 16 (3), 365-374, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2019.01.004

Pattern recognition receptors as potential therapeutic targets in metabolic syndrome: From bench to bedside. AA de Oliveira*, D Davis*, KP Nunes. Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews, 13 (2), 1117-1122., 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.dsx.2019.01.012


SELECTED Book Chapters: 

  1. De Lima ME, Figueiredo SG, Matavel A, Nunes KP, da Silva NC, Almeida FM, Diniz MRV, Cordeiro MN, Stankiewicz M and Beirao PSL.(2015). Phoneutria nigriventer Venom and Toxins: A Review. In: Spider Venoms. Edited by Springer Science. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-6646-4_6_1
  2. Kenia P. Nunes and R. Clinton Webb. (2011) Mechanisms in Erectile Function and Dysfunction: An Overview. In: Erectile Dysfunction - Disease-Associated Mechanisms and Novel Insights into Therapy. Chapter 01, Edited by In Tech Book. DOI: 10.5772/39088
  3. Nunes KP, Cardoso, F.L., Cardoso Jr, H.C., Pimenta, A.M.C., De Lima, M.E. (2009) Animal toxins as potential pharmacological tools for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. In: Animal toxins: State of the art Perspectives in health and biotechnology, vol. 1 (De Lima, M. E., Pimenta, A.M.C., Martin-Eauclaire, M.F., Zingali, R. and Rochat, H., ed), pp 314-322 Belo Horizonte: UFMG Editora.

Recognition & Awards

Ongoing award:

  • 2022- 2025, National Institute of Health- NIDDK- Title: Dual role of HSP70 in diabetes-associated vascular dysfunction ($ 486.000,00).

Past awards:

  • 2018-2019, Florida Space Research Program (NASA). Title: The interplay between cardiovascular disease and space radiation. ($ 50,000.00)
  • 2012- DEZ/2016, Scientific Development Grant (National)- American Heart Association - Title: Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) plays an important role in hypertension.    ($ 300.000,00)
  • 2009-2011, Fellowship from American Heart Association (Southeast Affiliate) – Post-Doctoral Fellow
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