Dr. Mark Peterson

Mark Peterson, PhD

Professor with tenure, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Research Non-Clinical Faculty


Dr. Peterson’s research focuses on understanding factors that influence health and life expectancy in persons with disabilities. Research in his lab occurs within a multidisciplinary and translational space that promotes greater understanding of issues in public health, clinical rehabilitation, human performance, and physiology. His specific research interests have been devoted to physical activity epidemiology and behavioral interventions for the treatment/prevention of obesity and related cardiometabolic diseases, frailty, functional motor declines, and early mortality. This includes research efforts directed at understanding and identifying precision strategies to prevent metabolic dysregulation and secondary musculoskeletal pathology among children and adults with neuromuscular impairments as well as a variety of frailty syndromes, and research to better understand health disparities among individuals with physical disabilities from the context of access to preventive care and community wellness.

Areas of Interest

  • Mechanisms of Secondary Muscle Pathology and Metabolic Dysregulation in Adults With Cerebral Palsy: The overall purpose of this research is to distinguish the mechanisms of secondary pathology and comorbidity from those attributable to the primary neuromuscular impairment in cerebral palsy, and to examine the efficacy of physical activity to improve function and cardiometabolic health.
  • Obesity Misclassification and Cardiometabolic Risk: The purpose of this line of research is to identify the extent of overweight and obsesity misclassification between BMI and percent body fat, as well as to determine the extent to which age, sedentary behavior, and physical activity mediates risk across body phenotypes.
  • Predictors of Muscle Aging: The purpose of this research is to examine and understand the predictors of muscle aging. Specific focus is placed on cellular mechanisms of muscle fragility as evidence by increased intramyocellular lipid and extracellular matrix, as well as understanding the common link with aberrant chronic inflammation, insulin resistance and mitochondrial stress.
  • Resistance Exercise for Metabolic Health: The focus of this work is to examine the efficacy of resistance exercise as a stimulus to induce positive morphologic and metabolic adaptations across a spectrum of ages and physical abilities.