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Daniel Kim-Shapiro

Professor of Physics & Harbert Family Distinguished Chair for Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship

Kim-Shapiro is an expert on nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that is important in maintaining adequate blood flow.

Biography

Daniel Kim-Shapiro is an expert on nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that is important in maintaining adequate blood flow, regulating blood clotting and other physiological functions. Nitric oxide dysfunction contributes to many diseases including sickle-cell disease, pulmonary hypertension, malaria and stroke. Kim-Shapiro’s research has shown that Nitrite (like in hot dogs) can be converted to Nitric Oxide under conditions of low oxygen, thereby increasing blood flow when it is needed. This action Read More »

Daniel Kim-Shapiro is an expert on nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that is important in maintaining adequate blood flow, regulating blood clotting and other physiological functions. Nitric oxide dysfunction contributes to many diseases including sickle-cell disease, pulmonary hypertension, malaria and stroke. Kim-Shapiro’s research has shown that Nitrite (like in hot dogs) can be converted to Nitric Oxide under conditions of low oxygen, thereby increasing blood flow when it is needed. This action may be due to a new function of the oxygen-carrying molecule in the blood, hemoglobin. The Kim-Shapiro lab has focused on using physical and biological tools to address problems in cardiovascular health (a major health factor in many scenarios including aging) for many years. His lab has had continuous funding from the Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH for more than fifteen years and has also been funded by the American Heart Association. In 2007 he received a prestigious MERIT Award from the NIH in recognition of the promising nature of his research. Kim-Shapiro and colleagues discovered that the compound nitrite increases blood flow – a benefit with major implications. One of the best sources for nitrates is the humble beet and Kim-Shapiro and team researched beets as a potential health supplement, ultimately developing a performance drink called Unbeetable, which promises everything from lower blood pressure to increased blood flow to the brain and has the science to back it. Kim-Shapiro is listed as a co-inventor on several patents or filed patent applications on cardiovascular health including “Use of Nitrite Salts for the Treatment of Cardiovascular Conditions.”

Media Appearances

WFU study highlights the power of beets

Winston-Salem Journal

May 3, 2017

A new study at Wake Forest University is putting beets in the spotlight, connecting the dots between consumption of beetroot juice and brain activity. The study found that a supplement of beetroot juice combined with exercise produced brain activity in older adults that resembles that of younger adults.

Beet juice and exercise might make your brain younger

Consumer Affairs

April 25, 2017

“No one loves beet juice,” said Daniel Kim-Shapiro, physics professor, director of the Translational Science Center at Wake Forest and co-author of the study. “Well, I do. I down the stuff.” For those who are not so fond of straight beet juice, the Wake Forest researchers have thoughtfully pointed us to some recipes that might make getting that nitric oxide shot a little more palatable.

WFU holding multi-disciplined symposium on aging

Winston-Salem Journal

February 27, 2016

The symposium is an extension of interdisciplinary work that is already being done at Wake Forest. The Translational Science Center conducts research to improve functional health in aging, said Daniel Kim-Shapiro, professor of physics at Wake Forest University and the director of the TSC.

Beet juice fueling Olympic athletes

WXII

July 21, 2016

"The bottom line of drinking beet juice for athletes is that it will likely increase blood flow to areas that need it and then also make the cells themselves more efficient at using oxygen," Daniel Kim-Shapiro said.

5 surprising health benefits of beet juice, the new superfood

Latinos Health

September 29, 2015

In 2010, Dr. Daniel Kim-Shapiro, director of Wake Forest’s Translational Science Center, and his team conducted a study that successfully showed how beet juice can help increase blood flow to the brain in older adults. "There have been several very high-profile studies showing that drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure, but we wanted to show that drinking beet juice also increases perfusion, or blood flow, to the brain," said Kim-Shapiro. "There are areas in the brain that become poorly perfused as you age, and that’s believed to be associated with dementia and poor cognition."...

How nitrate-rich beet juice can help improve hypertension, heart attack conditions

Zee News

December 15, 2014

As director of Wake Forest University's Translational Science Center, Daniel Kim-Shapiro, and others have conducted studies that look at how nitrite and its biological precursor, nitrate (found in beet root juice) can be utilized in treatments for a variety of conditions...

Beet juice good for brain

WebMD

November 3, 2010

“There have been several very high-profile studies showing that drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure, but we wanted to show that drinking beet juice also increases perfusion, or blood flow, to the brain,” Daniel Kim-Shapiro, PhD, director of the Translational Science Center at Wake Forest University, says in a news release. “There are areas in the brain that become poorly perfused as you age, and that’s believed to be associated with dementia and poor cognition.”

Articles

Nitrate and nitrite in biology, nutrition and therapeutics

Inorganic nitrate and nitrite from endogenous or dietary sources are metabolized in vivo to nitric oxide (NO) and other bioactive nitrogen oxides. The nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway is emerging as an important mediator of blood flow regulation, cell signaling, energetics and tissue responses to hypoxia...

Nitrite as a vascular endocrine nitric oxide reservoir that contributes to hypoxic signaling, cytoprotection, and vasodilation

Accumulating evidence suggests that the simple and ubiquitous anion salt, nitrite (NO 2−), is a physiological signaling molecule with potential roles in intravascular endocrine nitric oxide (NO) transport, hypoxic vasodilation, signaling, and cytoprotection after ...

Enzymatic function of hemoglobin as a nitrite reductase that produces NO under allosteric control

Hypoxic vasodilation is a fundamental, highly conserved physiological response that requires oxygen and/or pH sensing coupled to vasodilation. While this process was first characterized more than 80 years ago, the precise identity and mechanism of the oxygen ...

The emerging biology of the nitrite anion

Nitrite has now been proposed to play an important physiological role in signaling, blood flow regulation and hypoxic nitric oxide homeostasis. A recent two-day symposium at the US National Institutes of Health highlighted recent advances in the understanding of ...

Nitrite reduction to nitric oxide by deoxyhemoglobin vasodilates the human circulation

Nitrite anions comprise the largest vascular storage pool of nitric oxide (NO), provided that physiological mechanisms exist to reduce nitrite to NO. We evaluated the vasodilator properties and mechanisms for bioactivation of nitrite in the human forearm. Nitrite ...

Expert Pitches

‘Beet’ the Competition: WFU expert talks Olympics and beet juice

July 20, 2016

Daniel Kim-Shapiro, director of the Translational Science Center and a professor of physics at...

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More Information

Areas of Expertise

  • Blood Flow Clotting
  • Nitric Oxide Dysfunction
  • Blood Storage Transfusions
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Sickle Cell Disease
  • Hemoglobin
  • Complications from Blood Transfusions
  • Drinking Beet Juice

Education

University of California - Berkeley: Ph.D., Biophysics

Southern Illinois University: M.S., Physics

Carleton College: B.A., Undergraduate Studies

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