INT'L GUEST SPEAKER: Professor Linda R. Peterson MD, Washington University School of Medicine, ‘"Beeting" disability in heart failure: nitrate metabolism and muscle function’

Dr. Peterson has earned top honors throughout her academic education. She was valedictorian of her class in high school in Appleton, Wisconsin. At Georgetown University, she graduated magna cum laude and was awarded the Frances Graham medal for academic and athletic achievement. She attended Washington University School of Medicine and pursued training in Internal Medicine and Cardiology at Barnes Hospital. As a resident, she won the poster contest at both the state and national level of the American College of Physicians competition for her presentation on Ehrlichiosis, a new disease at the time. She also won the Knowlton Incentive for Excellence, which honors resident physicians “who have demonstrated the ability to balance exceptional, compassionate care with a commitment to being leaders in the science of internal medicine.”

Dr. Peterson’s translational research has altered our understanding of the human heart – its metabolism, structure, and function – both in health and disease. Her earliest contribution to science refined our understanding of the prognostic value of exercise peak VO2 testing in heart failure. One of her papers in the Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, helped to set the new cut-points that are currently used to aid clinicians better determine the timing of cardiac transplantation in patients with heart failure.

Her later research on the effects of obesity and diabetes on the heart produced some of the seminal papers in the field. Two of her publications, in Circulation and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology are citation classics with over 100 citations each. These papers defined obesity’s detrimental effects on myocardial metabolism, structure, and function in the human heart. Because of inherent connections among metabolism, structure, and function, Dr. Peterson’s research has highlighted possible targets for treatment of obesity-related heart failure. She has further defined the effect of weight loss on the human heart, and it is this research published in Obesity, which has pointed to one of the likely metabolic mechanisms of obesity-related cardiac dysfunction – excessive oxygen consumption and probable reactive oxygen species production. In the process of her research on obesity, she was the first to note and publish on the major effects of sex on myocardial metabolism in health and disease using positron emission tomography.

In her latest work, she showed that dietary nitrate improves skeletal muscle function – muscle speed of contraction, muscle power, and aerobic capacity – as well as decreasing work of breathing in patients with heart failure. The paper in Circulation: Heart Failure describing these effects and her similar findings in normal subjects was featured in an interview by National Public Radio and subsequently picked up by the lay press in many countries around the globe. She is now working to expand these findings to a multi-center randomized clinical trial.

Lastly, in collaboration with Jean Schaffer and Dan Ory and investigators at the Framingham Heart Study, she has patented a novel test for specific lipidomic markers as predictors of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and heart failure, and overall mortality (even after accounting for currently known cardiovascular risk factors). These lipidomic species may not only be a biomarker of disease and portents of outcomes, but some data suggest that they may be involved in the pathogenesis of heart disease. This work is currently under review at the Eur Heart J.

In addition to her achievements in research, Dr. Peterson is also an outstanding mentor and teacher. As a resident, she won the Barnes Hospital resident teaching award. She has given didactic cardiology lectures to medical students and fellows at Washington U.. Linda has also given several Medical Grand Rounds at Washington University and Cardiovascular Research Conference lectures that are very well-received. She is a sought-after lecturer in the U.S. and abroad, having given a plenary lecture at the AHA, several grand rounds at distinguished universities such as Cornell University and the University of Utah, and research symposia at Oxford University in the U.K., and the University of Tromsø.

Current Research Interests * Nutritional treatments for myocardial and skeletal muscle * Lipidomics * Effects of obesity and diabetes on cardiac metabolism, structure, and function * Insulin resistance