Courtney M. Peterson, Ph.D.
- Assistant Professor
1675 University Blvd.
Dr. Peterson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences and a scientist in UAB’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC), Diabetes Research Center (DRC), and the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center (UCDC).
(1) Controlled Feeding Studies: I conduct controlled feeding studies to test new dietary strategies to mitigate or reverse diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. I am particularly interested in meal timing/circadian rhythms, intermittent fasting, and nutrient-rich foods.
(a) Meal Timing/Intermittent Fasting: I conducted the first controlled feeding studies of early time-restricted feeding (eTRF) in humans. eTRF combines daily intermittent fasting (15+ hour daily fasting) and eating in sync with our biological clocks (or circadian rhythms) by eating early in the day. eTRF reverses or prevents diabetes/insulin resistance, high cholesterol levels, inflammation, and obesity in rodents. My research is testing whether eTRF is similarly powerful at improving human health. My two pilot studies are testing how eTRF impacts blood sugar control, energy expenditure, appetite, vascular health, and inflammation in humans.
(b) Nutrient-Rich Foods: I am involved in a clinical trial that is testing whether resistant starch can improve blood sugar control, appetite, and bacteria in the gut. In addition, my laboratory is interested in conducting more rigorous and sophisticated studies on nutrient-rich low- versus high-carbohydrate diets in adults with type 2 diabetes.
(2) Mathematical Modeling: I also have expertise in mathematical modeling of body composition and of energy and carbohydrate metabolism.
Dr. Peterson obtained her Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University in 2011, working on the physics of the Big Bang. Thereafter, she changed disciplines and took up an NIH T32 obesity postdoctoral fellowship in nutrition and metabolism at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. At Pennington, she trained under Dr. Eric Ravussin, a world expert in energy metabolism and in diabetes and obesity clinical trials. During this time, she worked on several controlled lifestyle intervention trials, ranging from using resistant starch to mitigate prediabetes, to overeating and caloric restriction, to using whole-body hypoxia to reduce insulin resistance. Dr. Peterson also served as a Visiting Scholar in the Medical Chronobiology Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where she trained in the laboratory of Dr. Frank Scheer, a world expert in circadian rhythms in humans.
Dr. Peterson has received a KL2 Career Development Fellowship, an Early-Career Research Grant from The Obesity Society (top 1%), a Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center Roadmap Scholars Fellowship, and a Marshall Scholarship. In addition, she holds four master’s degrees: clinical research (Tulane University, 2015), physics (Harvard University, 2011), science communication (Imperial College London, 2004), and applied mathematics & theoretical physics (University of Cambridge, 2003).
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