Mary B. Engler


Department of Primary Appointment:
Graduate School of Nursing
Ph.D in Nursing Science Program
Location: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD
Research Interests:
Dietary factors or nutrients to optimize vascular health and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease
Analysis of genomic and proteomic profiles to promote personalized nutrition programs; Biomarkers of inflammation, vascular injury, and oxidative stress
Office Phone


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) (Physiology), Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Master of Science (MS) (Biology), American University, Washington, D.C.
Bachelor of Science (BS) (Biology), American University, Washington, D.C.
Associate in Arts and Sciences (AAS) (Nursing), Marymount University, Arlington, V.A.


Dr. Mary B. Engler is a Professor in the Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. She was the Training Director and Senior Clinician, Chief of the Vascular Biology Unit, Tissue Injury Branch, in the Division of Intramural Research at NINR recently at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD. Dr. Engler directed the highly successful training programs, NINR Summer Genetics Institute (SGI) and the innovative Precision Health: From Omics to Data Science Boot Camps for several years. Dr. Engler is uniquely trained as a cardiovascular physiologist, nurse scientist, and clinician and was previously a Full Professor and Director of the Cardiovascular and Genomics Graduate Programs at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Nursing. She obtained her undergraduate degrees in Nursing and Biology from Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia, and American University, Washington, D.C. She also earned a Master’s of Science degree in Biology from American University. She obtained her PhD in Physiology with a focus on cardiovascular from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. Her doctoral research training was also at National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH.

Dr. Engler’s clinical nursing experience included critical care and cardiovascular surgery at Suburban Hospital, Bethesda, Maryland, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health. While at UCSF, Dr. Engler was awarded two NINR Career Development Awards, including an R-29 First Award (Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Risk Factors) and a K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (Phospholipid Transfer Protein Mutations in Dyslipidemias).
Notably, Dr. Engler led studies on the vascular effects of omega-3 fatty acids from fish and fish oil and the specific biological mechanisms of their vasodilation effect. She was the first to demonstrate the vascular effects of the omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid, in an experimental model, which stemmed from her doctoral dissertation research at Georgetown University and the NIH. This discovery and the subsequent isolated vessel studies set the groundwork for later clinical trials, which demonstrated the cardioprotective effects of the omega-3 fatty acids. Her genetics training led her to examine the genetic factors that contribute to low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and heart disease.

Collaborative research with her sister, Dr. Marguerite M. Engler, included the Endothelial Assessment of Risk in Lipids from Youth (EARLY) and EARLY Medit trials that investigated the effects of diet (low fat/cholesterol, Mediterranean) and nutritional supplements on the cardiovascular health of children and adolescents with high cholesterol. Dr. Engler also conducted the first highly publicized clinical trial on the vascular benefits of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate. Her expertise has led to recent appointments on several American Heart Association Writing Groups for position papers on omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and genetics. Notably, she has received professional recognition as a Fellow in several specialty areas of the American Heart Association and has been a member in multiple professional physiology, nursing, genetics, cardiovascular, and nutrition organizations.

Dr. Engler’s primary research focus is on nutritional interventions and vascular biology in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Specifically, healthy dietary factors or nutrients that may improve vascular health and that lower the risk for developing cardiovascular disease are investigated. These studies examine the effects of certain flavonoids, found in fruits and vegetables, on vascular endothelial function, arterial stiffness, oxidative stress, inflammatory and vascular biomarkers, blood lipid profiles, and blood pressure. As genetic variations and expression of proteins may influence how an individual reacts to dietary therapies, Dr. Engler also analyzes genomic and proteomic profiles in the effort to develop and promote personalized nutrition programs that decrease endothelial dysfunction and increase nitric oxide, thus improving cardiovascular health and preventing disease.

Representative publications, projects, and/or deployments

Senior Clinician, Chief, Vascular Biology Unit, Tissue Injury Branch and Training Director, National Institute of Nursing Research, Division of Intramural Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

Professor and Director of the Cardiovascular and Genomics Graduate Programs, University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing, Department of Physiological Nursing, San Francisco, CA.

National Institutes of Health, NINR, Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01), "Phospholipid transfer Protein Mutations in Dyslipidemias" (NR0788)

National Institutes of Health, NINR, First Independent Research Support and Transition (FIRST) Award (R-29), "Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Risk Factors"

Fellow, Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism; Council on Functional Genomics and Translational Biology, American Heart Association

Chair, University of California San Francisco, School of Nursing Faculty Council

Training Grant Project Director, Genomics Education for Advanced Practice Nurses, DHHS/PHS HRSA D09 HP00187

National Institutes of Health, NINR, High Priority, Short-Term Project Award (R56), "Diet, Endothelial Function, and Pediatric Hyperlipidemia"

Co-wrote the chapter “Empowering Clinician-Scientists in the Information Age of Omics and Data Science” in the 2017 book Actionable Intelligence in Healthcare

Engler MB, Engler MM, Chen CY, Malloy MJ, Browne A, Chiu EY, Kwak HK, Milbury P, Paul SM, Blumberg J, Mietus-Snyder ML. Flavonoid-rich dark chocolate improves endothelial function and increases plasma epicatechin concentrations in healthy adults. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Jun;23(3):197-204. PMID: 15190043


For Dr. Engler's full bibliography, please visit PubMed at

1. Siscovick DS, Barringer TA, Fretts AM, Wu JH, Lichtenstein AH, Costello RB, Kris-Etherton PM, Jacobson TA, Engler MB, Alger HM, Appel LJ, Mozaffarian D. . Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (Fish Oil) Supplementation and the Prevention of Clinical Cardiovascular Disease: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017; 135(15):e867-e884. PMID:28289069

2. Fox CS, Hall JL, Arnett DK, Ashley EA, Delles C, Engler MB, Freeman MW, Johnson JA, Lanfear DE, Liggett SB, Lusis AJ, Loscalzo J, MacRae CA, Musunuru K, Newby LK, O'Donnell CJ, Rich SS, Terzic A. Future translational applications from the contemporary genomics era: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2015 May 12;131(19):1715-36. PMID: 25882488

3. Logan JG, Engler MB, Kim H. Genetic determinants of arterial stiffness . J Cardiovasc Transl Res. 2015 Feb;8(1):23-43. PMID: 25472935

4. Costello RB, Lentino CV, Saldanha L, Engler MM, Engler MB, Srinivas P, Sempos CT. A select review reporting the quality of studies measuring endothelial dysfunction in randomised diet intervention trials . Br J Nutr. 2015 Jan 14;113(1):89-99. PMID: 25374114

5. Engler MB, Austin JK, Grady P. The National Institute of Nursing Research Graduate Partnerships Program (NINR-GPP): an opportunity for PhD students . Nurs Outlook. 2014 Nov-Dec;62(6):469-74. PMID: 25261387

6. Ganesh SK, Arnett DK, Assimes TL, Basson CT, Chakravarti A, Ellinor PT, Engler MB, Goldmuntz E, Herrington DM, Hershberger RE, Hong Y, Johnson JA, Kittner SJ, McDermott DA, Meschia JF, Mestroni L, O'Donnell CJ, Psaty BM, Vasan RS, Ruel M, Shen WK, Terzic A, Waldman SA. Genetics and genomics for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease: update: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association . Circulation. 2013 Dec 24;128(25):2813-51. PMID: 24297835

7. Engler MB. Nutrigenomics in cardiovascular disease: implications for the future . Prog Cardiovasc Nurs. 2009 Dec;24(4):190-5. PMID: 20002344

8. Engler MB, Pullinger CR, Malloy MJ, Natanzon Y, Kulkarni MV, Song J, Eng C, Huuskonen J, Rivera C, Poon A, Bensley M, Sehnert A, Zellner C, Kane J, Aouizerat BE. Genetic variation in phospholipid transfer protein modulates lipoprotein profiles in hyperalphalipoproteinemia. Metabolism. 2008 Dec;57(12):1719-24. PMID: 19013296

9. Engler MB, Engler MM. The emerging role of flavonoid-rich cocoa and chocolate in cardiovascular health and disease. Nutr Rev. 2006 Mar;64(3):109-18. PMID: 16572598. 10. Engler MB, Engler MM. The vasculoprotective effects of flavonoid-rich cocoa and chocolate . Nutr Res. 2004 Sept; 24(9):695-706.