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Courtney M. Peterson, PhD, MSc, MA, MS

Courtney M. Peterson, PhD, MSc, MA, MS Assistant Professor
Department of Nutrition Sciences
1675 University Blvd.
Webb 644
Birmingham, AL 35294-3360
Phone: 205-934-0122
Full CV

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).

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 served as a Co-I 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 has received a KL2 Career Development Fellowship, an Early-Career Research Grant from The Obesity Society, and a Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center Roadmap Scholars Fellowship. In addition, she holds master’s degrees in clinical research (Tulane University, 2015), science communication (Imperial College London, 2004), and applied mathematics & theoretical physics (University of Cambridge, 2003).

Research Interests

The primary goal of my research is to develop and test dietary strategies to mitigate or reverse diabetes and obesity. I am particularly interested in meal timing/circadian rhythms, intermittent fasting, and botanical-rich foods.

Meal Timing/Intermittent Fasting: Currently, I am conducting two clinical trials of a dietary strategy called time-restricted feeding (TRF) in humans. TRF with an early eating period (eTRF) combines daily intermittent fasting (15+ hour daily fasting) and eating in sync with the body’s internal clock (or circadian rhythms). eTRF has been found to reverse or prevent diabetes/insulin resistance, hypercholestoremia, and obesity in rodents. The aims of my two pilot studies are two determine how eTRF impacts blood sugar control, energy expenditure, appetite, vascular health, and inflammation in humans.

Botanical-Rich Foods: I am also a Co-I of a clinical trial to test whether a botanical product called resistant starch can improve blood sugar control, appetite, and bacteria in the gut in overweight people with prediabetes.

Mathematical Modeling: My secondary interests are in mathematical modeling of wide-range of topics related to energy and carbohydrate metabolism, as well as body composition.

NORC Members Research Spotlight



  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • pre 2013
  1. Heymsfield SB, Peterson CM, Thomas DM, Hirezi M, Zhang B, Smith S, Bray G, Redman LM. Establishing energy requirements for body weight maintenance: Validation of a simplified intake-balance method. Submitted to Metabolism.
  2. Thomas DM, Peterson CM, Heymsfield SB, Nduati A, Apolzan JW, Martin CK. A new dynamic universal model to describe eating rate and cumulative intake curves. Submitted to AJCN.
  3. Peterson CM, Apolzan JW, Wright C, Martin CK. Video chat technology to remotely quantify dietary, supplement, and medication adherence in clinical trials. Submitted to Br J Nutr.
  4. Sonomtseren S, Yanjmaa S, Ochir C, Johannsen DL, Peterson CM, Vandanmagsar B. Lifestyle intervention improves glycemic control in overweight and obese Mongolian subjects adults with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. Submitted to Diabetes Obes Metab.
  5. Peterson CM, Thomas DM, Blackburn GL, Heymsfield SB. (2016). A single universal equation for estimating ideal body weight and body weight at key BMI levels. In press at AJCN.
  6. Heymsfield SB, Peterson CM, Thomas DM, Heo M, Schuna JM. (2016). Why Are There Race/Ethnic Differences in Body Mass Index-Adiposity Relationships? Obes Rev. 17(3):262-75. PMID: 26663309.
  7. Peterson CM, Lecoultre V, Frost EA, Simmons J, Redman LR, Ravussin E (2016). The thermogenic responses to overfeeding and cold are differentially regulated. Obesity. 24(1):96-101. PMID: 26592725.
  1. Ravussin E, Peterson CM. (2015) Physical Activity and the Missing Calories. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 43(3):107-108. PMID: 25906428.
  1. Schuna JM Jr, Peterson CM, Thomas DM, Heo M, Hong S, Choi W, Heymsfield SB. (2014). Scaling of adult regional body mass and body composition as a whole to height: Relevance to body shape and body mass index. Am J Hum Biol. 27(3):372-9. PMID: 25381999.
  2. Heymsfield SB, Peterson CM, Thomas D, Schuna J, Heo M, Hong S, Choi W. (2014). Scaling of adult body weight to height across sex and race/ethnic groups: Relevance to body mass Index. Am J Clin Nutr. 100(6):1455-61. PMID: 25411280; PMCID: PMC4232013.
  3. Sonnier T, Rood J, Gimble JM, Peterson CM. (2014). Glycemic control is impaired in the evening in prediabetes through multiple diurnal rhythms. J Diabetes Complications. 28(6):836-43. PMID: 24835190.
  4. Peterson CM, Lecoultre V, Schwarz JM, Ravussin E. (2014). Response to comment on Lecoultre et al. Ten nights of moderate hypoxia improves insulin sensitivity in obese humans. Diabetes Care. 37(6): e157-8. PMID: 24855183; PMCID: PMC4179519.
  5. Zheng H, Tegmark M, Buza V, Dillon JS, Gharibyan H, Hickish J, Kunz E, Liu A, Losh J, Lutomirski A, Morrison S, Narayanan S, Perko A, Rosner D, Sanchez N, Schutz K, Tribiano SM, Valdez M, Yang H-I, Zarb Adami K, Zelko I, Zheng K, Armstrong R, Bradley RF, Dexter MR, Ewall-Wice A, Magro A, Matejek M, Morgan E, Neben AR, Pan Q, Penna RF, Peterson CM, Su M, Villasenor J, Williams CL, Yang HI. (2014). MITEoR: A Scalable Interferometer for Precision 21 cm Cosmology. MNRAS. 445 (2): 1084-1103.


  1. Lecoultre V, Peterson CM (co-first author), Covington JD, Ebenezer PJ, Frost EA, Schwarz JM, Ravussin E. (2013). Ten nights of exposure to moderate hypoxia improves insulin sensitivity in obese men. Diabetes Care. 36(12): e197-8. PMID: 24265370; PMCID: PMC3836149.
  2. Thomas DM, Bredlau C, Bosy-Westphal A, Mueller M, Shen W, Gallagher D, Maeda Y, McDougall A, Peterson CM, Ravussin E, Heymsfield SB. (2013). Relationships between body roundness with body fat and visceral adipose tissue emerging from a new geometrical model. Obesity. 21(11): 2264-71. PMID: 23519954; PMCID: PMC3692604.
  3. Lam YY, Peterson CM, Ravussin E. (2013). Resveratrol vs. calorie restriction: data from rodents to humans. Exp Gerontol. 48(10):1018-24. PMID: 23624181.
  4. Peterson CM, Tegmark M. (2013). Testing multi-field inflation: A geometric approach. Phys Rev D. 87: 103507.
  1. Heymsfield SB, Thomas D, Bosy-Westphal A, Shen W, Peterson CM, Müller MJ. (2012). Evolving concepts on adjusting human resting energy expenditure measurements for body size. Obes Rev. 13(11):1001-14. PMID: 22863371; PMCID: PMC3477241. 5 19. Peterson CM, Johannsen DL, Ravussin E. (2012). Skeletal muscle mitochondria and aging: A review. J Aging Res. 2012:194821. PMID: 22888430; PMCID: PMC3408651.
  2. Peterson CM, Tegmark M. (2011). Non-Gaussianity in two-field inflation. Phys Rev D. 84: 023520.
  3. Peterson CM, Tegmark M. (2011). Testing two-field inflation. Phys Rev D. 83: 023522.
  4. Le Stunff H, Galve-Roperh I, Peterson C, Milstien S, Spiegel S. (2002). Sphingosine-1-phosphate phosphohydrolase in regulation of sphingolipid metabolism and apoptosis. J Cell Biol. 158(6):1039-49. PMID: 12235122; PMCID: PMC2173216.
  5. Le Stunff H, Peterson C, Liu H, Milstien S, & Spiegel S. (2002). Sphingosine-1-phosphate and lipid phosphohydrolases. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1582(1-3):8-17. PMID: 12069805.
  6. Le Stunff H, Peterson C, Thornton R, Milstien S, Mandala S, Spiegel S. (2002). Characterization of murine sphingosine 1-phosphate phosphohydrolase. J Biol Chem. 277(11):8920-7. PMID: 11756451.
  7. Samus NN, Peterson C, Holmes S, & Singer K. (2001). Lost variables in Sagittarius and Cygnus recovered on Nantucket plates. JAAVSO. 29(2): 112-7.
  8. Mandala SM, Thornton R, Galve-Roperh I, Poulton S, Peterson C, Olivera A, Bergstrom J, Kurtz MB, Spiegel S. (2000). Molecular cloning and characterization of a lipid phosphohydrolase that degrades sphingosine-1-phosphate and induces cell death. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 97(14):7859-64. PMID: 10859351; PMCID: PMC16635.


Published on May 15, 2017
Courtney Peterson, PhD, discusses more accurate way of measuring BMI

Published on May 11, 2017
Faculty Spotlight: Courtney Peterson