Carmen Castaneda Sceppa

Associate Professor and Director, Graduate Programs in Exercise Science
  • Department of Health Sciences

Phone: 617-373-5543

Carmen Castaneda Sceppa, MD., PhD, is the Director of Research in the Human Performance and Exercise Laboratory, and Director of the Graduate Program in Exercise Science, at Northeastern University. Additionally, she is an adjunct professor of Nutrition at Tufts University, a Fellow of the Brookdale Foundation and the International Life Sciences Institute. 

Dr. Sceppa’s program of research addresses three main areas of health promotion including: (1) assessing the efficacy of nutrition and physical activity/exercise interventions on chronic disease risk factors and health outcomes; (2) translating evidence based lifestyle interventions into ‘real world’ settings; and (3) developing sustainable strategies to promote health and reduce the burden of chronic diseases. Her research targets vulnerable populations with particular emphasis to those of diverse ethnic background, suffering from debilitating chronic conditions, and socioeconomically disadvantaged and isolated. Funding for Dr. Sceppa’s research include the Brookdale Foundation, the International Life Sciences Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the National Space and Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI); as well as corporations and foundations.

Her research findings have provided evidence-based information used by the Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine to revise the Dietary Recommended Intake for protein in older adults. Her pioneer work on resistance exercise in older adults with kidney disease and diabetes was translated into clinical practice by the American Diabetes Association and adopted as standard of care. In addition, her research findings contributed to the recommendations for physical activity in older adults by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. 

Dr, Sceppa is co-Principal Investigator of Healthy Kids Healthy Futures, an intergenerational obesity prevention imitative that promotes physical activity and healthy eating in families and day care staff of young children 3-8 years of age ( She conceptualized, developed, and implemented the Heart Health Initiative for Hispanic Adults – a participatory community-based multilevel intervention (nutrition, physical activity, stress management and self-care) to address heart health among Hispanic older adults living in Boston. This initiative is being evaluated as part of the NHLBI funded Center for Population Health and Health Disparities.

In addition to the participatory community-based interventions described above, Dr. Sceppa examines mechanisms associated with aging and health. With funding from the Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation she investigates the metabolic and transcriptional adaptations associated with high intensity resistance training in skeletal muscle of young and older healthy adults. This research is being conducted in the Human Performance and Exercise Science Laboratory directs at Northeastern University.

Dr. Sceppa’s research findings have been widely published and referenced. They represent a collaborative effort of a transdisciplinary team of investigators, students and fellows. Her research has contributed to advancing the field of healthy aging by providing evidence on the benefits of resistance exercise for multiple health outcomes and disease conditions. More importantly, the knowledge acquired from her evidence base research has informed the development of “real world” community-based interventions and guidelines that bridge the gap between research translation and practice/policy.

M.D., Francisco Marroquin University, Guatemala City. Guatemala
Ph.D., Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts

Specialization: Aging and gerontology, physical activity and exercise, healthy eating and nutrition science 

Major Research Interests:  Healthy aging; Health promotion in the lifecycle; Nutrition and physical activity/exercise community-based interventions; Chronic disease prevention; Translational research 

Public Service:

Advisory Committee, Epidemiology, Health & Fitness Group, Cambridge Public Health

Department (CPHD), Cambridge, MA

Advisory Committee, FriendshipWorks, Boston, MA

Advisory Committee, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and Control Program, Bureau of

Community Health Access and Promotion, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston,MA

Advisory Committee, Community Health Education and Literacy Program (CHELP). Center for Community Health Education Research and Service (CCHERS), Boston, MA

Advisory Committee, ABCD Head Start Citywide Health Services, Boston, MA

Latin American Health Public Council, Boston Public Health Commission, Boston, MA

Member, Multicultural Coalition on Aging, Boston, MA


  • HSCI 1105: Introduction to Nutrition
  • HLTH 1555: Freshman Honors Seminar in Healthy Aging
  • PHTH 6228: Public Health Nutrition
  • EXSC 6400: Research Practicum

Selected, Current Research Projects:

  • Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures – funded by Northeastern University and Boston Children’s Hospital

  • Mechanisms of aging and Health: Effect of age and physical activity on skeletal muscle transcriptional adaptations induced by strength training – funded by the Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation

Key Experiential Learning Opportunities for Students (undergraduate and graduate):

  • Service learning opportunities
  • Directed studies
  • Internships
  • Research awards
  • Thesis and dissertations

Main Collaborators/Affiliations (outside NEU):

  • Tufts University, Boston, MA
  • Adjunct Professor of Health Sciences, City University London, London, UK
  • Klinik Herzberg in Herzberg Am Harz and the Georg-August-University in Göttingen, Germany
  • Center for Studies of Sensory Impairments, Aging, and Metabolism (CeSSIAM), Guatemala  City, Guatemala

Peer-Reviewed Publications (*indicates student/fellow co-author):

1.      Todorova I, Tejada S, Castaneda-Sceppa C. “Let’s Stretch Life a Bit”: Perspectives of Puerto Rican Adults about Heart Health and a potential Community Program.American Journal of Health Education 2013: in press.

2.      *He J, Bhasin S, Binder EF, Yarasheski KE, Castaneda-Sceppa C, Schroeder ET, Roubenoff R, Chou C-P, Azen SP, Sattler FR. Cardiometabolic risks during anabolic hormone supplementation in older men. Obesity 2013;21(5):968-75.

3.      Hoffman J, Agrawal R, Wirth C, Watts C, *Adeduntun G, *Myles L,Castaneda-Sceppa C. Farm to Family: Increasing Access to Affordable Fruits and Vegetables among Head Start Families. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition 2012;7:165-177.

4.      Hoffman J, Agrawal T, Carter S, Grinder A, Castaneda-Sceppa C. Cultural/Favorite Recipe Day: Strengthening Approaches to Increase Culturally Diverse Foods Served in Head Start Meals. NHSA Dialog 2012;15(3):266–271.

5.      Agrawal T, Hoffman J, Ahl M, Bhaumik U, Healey C, Carter S, Joyce D, Dickerson D, Nethersole S, Castaneda-Sceppa C. Collaborating for impact: Partnership and programming model of a multi-level early childhood obesity prevention initiative. Journal of Family and Community Health 2012;35(3):192–202.

6.      Yarasheski KE, Castaneda-Sceppa C, He J, Kawakubo M, Bhasin S, Binder EF, Schroeder ET, Roubenoff R, Azen SP, Sattler FR. Whole body and muscle protein metabolism are not affected by acute deviations from habitual protein intake in older men: The HORMA Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011;94(1):172-181.

7.      Lincoln A, *Shepherd A, Johnson PL, Castaneda-Sceppa C. Resistance training improves depression and health related quality of life among Hispanic older adults with type 2 diabetes.Journal of Gerontology: Psychosocial Sciences 2011;66B(5):567-570.

8.      Smith TJ, Schwarz JM, Montain SJ, Rood J, Pikosky MA, Castaneda-Sceppa C, Glickman EL, Young AJ.  High protein diet maintains glucose production during exercise-induced energy deficit: a controlled trial. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism2011;8:26.

9.      *Van Rompay MI, Castaneda-Sceppa C, McKeown NM, Ordovas JM, Tucker KL. Prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors among older Puerto Rican adults living in Massachusetts. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health 2011;13:825-33.

10.  *Brooks N, *Cadena SM, Cloutier G, Carambula S, Myburgh KH, Roubenoff R, Vannier E, Castaneda-Sceppa C. Effects of 28 days of bed rest and 14 days of active recovery on human skeletal muscle gene expression. Muscle and Nerve 2010;42: 927–935.

11.  Castaneda-Sceppa C, Castaneda F. Calcitriol mediates the activity of SGLT1 through an extranuclear initiated mechanism that involves intracellular signaling pathways.  Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry 2010;66(2):105–115.

12.  Castaneda-Sceppa C, Price LL, *Noel SE, Bassett Midle J, Falcon LM, Tucker KL. Health status and physical function in aging Puerto Rican adults: The Boston Puerto Rican Health Study. Journal of Aging and Health 2010;22(5):653–672.

13.  *Chen J, Godfrey S, Ng T, *Moorthi R, *Liangos O, Ruthazer R, Jaber B, Levey AS, Castaneda-Sceppa C. Effect of intra-dialytic, low-intensity strength training on functional capacity in adult hemodialysis patients: A randomized trial. Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation 2010;25(6):1936-1943.

14.  Balakrishnan VS, Rao M, Menon V, *Gordon PL, Pilichowska M, Castaneda F, Castaneda-Sceppa C. Resistance Training Increases Skeletal Muscle Mitochondrial Biogenesis in Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 2010;5(6):996-1002.

15.  Castaneda-Sceppa C, *Subramanian S, Castaneda F. Protein Kinase C mediated intracellular signaling pathways are involved in the regulation of sodium-dependent glucose co-transporter SGLT1 activity. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry 2010;109(6):1109-1117.

16.  *Layne JE, Arabelovic S, Wilson LB, Cloutier GJ, *Pindrus, MA, Mallio CJ, Roubenoff R, Castaneda-Sceppa C. Community-based strength training improves physical function in older women with osteoarthritis. Journal of Lifestyle Medicine 2009;3(6):466-473.

17.  Sattler FR, Castaneda-Sceppa C, Binder EF, Schroeder TE, Wang Y, Bhasin S, Kawakubo M, Stewart Y, Yarasheski KE, Ulloor J, Colletti P, Roubenoff R, Azen SP. Testosterone and growth hormone improve body composition and muscle performance in older men. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2009;94(6):1991-2001.

18.  *Layne JE, *Sampson SE, Mallio CJ, Hibberd PL, Griffith JL, Das SK, Flanagan, WJ, Castaneda-Sceppa C.  Successful dissemination of a community-based strength training program for older adults by peer and professional leaders.  Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2008;56:2323-2329.

19.  *Brooks N, Cloutier GC, *Cadena SM, *Layne JE, Nelsen CA, Freed AM, Roubenoff R, Castaneda-Sceppa C. Resistance training and timed essential amino acids protect against the loss of muscle mass and strength during 28 days of bed rest and energy deficit. Journal of Applied Physiology 2008;105(1):241-248.

20.  Castaneda-Sceppa C, Sarnak. MJ, Wang X, Greene T, Madero M, Kusek JW, Beck G, Collins AJ, Kopple JD, Levey A, Manon V. Role of the adipose tissue in determining muscle mass in patients with chronic kidney disease. Journal of Renal Nutrition 2007;17(5):314-322.

21.  *Brooks N, *Layne JE,*Gordon PL, Roubenoff R, Nelson ME, Castaneda-Sceppa C. Strength training improves muscle quality and insulin sensitivity in Hispanic older adults with type 2 diabetes. International Journal of Medical Sciences 2006;4(1):19-27.

22.  *Gordon PL, Vannier E, Hamada K, Witsell A, *Layne JE, Hurley BF, Roubenoff R, Castaneda C. Effects of resistance training on cytokine gene expression in skeletal muscle of older adults with type 2 diabetes. International Journal of Immunopathology & Pharmacology 2006;19(4);487-497.

23.  Castaneda F, *Layne JE, Castaneda C. Skeletal muscle sodium glucose co-transporters in older adults with type 2 diabetes undergoing resistance training. International Journal of Medical Sciences 2006;3(3):84-91.

24.  Castaneda C, *Layne J, Munoz-Orians L,*Gordon PL, *Walsmith J, Foldvari M, Roubenoff R, Tucker KL, Nelson M. A randomized control trial of progressive resistance exercise training in older adults with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2002;25(12):2335-2341.

25.  Castaneda C, *Gordon PL, Uhlin KL, Levey AS, Kehayias JJ, Dwyer JT, Roubenoff R, Fielding RA, Fiatarone Singh, MA. Resistance training to counteract the catabolism of a low protein diet in patients with chronic renal insufficiency. A randomized, controlled trail. Annals of Internal Medicine 2001;135 (11);965-976.