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Ronald G. Garcia M.D., Ph.D.


Dr. Ronald Garcia is an Instructor at the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. His main research interests include the study of pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the comorbidity of major depression and cardiovascular disease as well as the development and translation of novel technologies that can be used for modulation of brain circuitry responsible for mood/anxiety and cardiovascular dysregulation in depressed individuals.

Dr. Garcia received a M.D. degree from Universidad Industrial de Santander, Colombia, and a Ph.D. degree in neuroscience from Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil. Before joining Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Garcia was Research Director at the Cardiovascular Foundation of Colombia (2010-2012) and conducted research and published extensively on cardiac autonomic dysregulation and vascular dysfunction in patients with hypertension-related conditions, mood disorders and cardio- and cerebro-vascular diseases. Since 2012, Dr. Garcia is based in the US, where he has been involved in the development of functional neuroimaging studies aimed to identify central mechanisms of cardiac and vascular regulation.

In addition, in collaboration with Dr. Jill Goldstein at the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory of Sex Differences in the Brain and Dr. Vitaly Napadow at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Dr. Garcia’s research has been oriented to the evaluation and optimization of non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation as a potential neuromodulatory intervention for sex-dependent alterations in the brain circuitry controlling mood and autonomic tone in major depression. His long-term research interests include the development and clinical translation of this and other non-invasive neuromodulation tools for the treatment of psychiatric disorders and their comorbidity with cardiovascular disease.

Selected Publications

Garcia RG, Mareckova K, Holsen LM, Whitfield-Gabrieli S, Napadow V, Barbieri R, Goldstein JM. Impact of sex and depressed mood on the central regulation of cardiac autonomic function. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2020; 45: 1280-1288. PMID: 32152473.

Garcia RG, Lin R, Lee J, Jung H, Kim J, Kim H, Loggia M, Wasan A, Edwards R, Hadjikhani N, Napadow V. Modulation of brainstem activity and connectivity by respiratory-gated auricular vagal afferent nerve stimulation (RAVANS) in migraine patients. Pain. 2017; 158: 1461-1472. PMID: 28541256.

Sclocco R*, Garcia RG*, Gabriel A, Kettner NW, Napadow V, Barbieri R. Respiratory-gated auricular vagal afferent nerve stimulation (RAVANS) effects on autonomic outflow in hypertension. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2017: 3130-3133. PMID: 29060561.

Garcia RG, Valenza G, Tomaz C, Barbieri R.  Relationship between cardiac vagal activity and mood congruent memory bias in major depression. J Affect Disord. 2016, 190: 19-25. PMID: 26480207.