Member Spotlight: Mark D. Peterson

Feature Stories

Member Spotlight: Mark D. Peterson

Our featured Precision Health member for this month’s Member Spotlight is Mark D. Peterson, PhD, MS, FACSM. Dr. Peterson is the Charles E. Lytle, Jr. Research Professor with Michigan Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

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.

  • Tell us a bit more about the details of your current research/projects

My program of research is dedicated to understanding factors that influence health and quality of life among individuals with disabilities. This includes efforts directed at identifying precision strategies to prevent cardiometabolic dysregulation and secondary physical and psychological morbidity among children and adults with cerebral palsy (CP), as well as a variety of frailty syndromes (e.g., spinal cord injury [SCI]), and to better understand health disparities among individuals with disabilities from the context of access to preventive care and community wellness.

  • What is innovative/new/exciting about these projects?

-Cerebral Palsy: Most research pertaining to healthcare needs among individuals with CP is focused on early intervention and care coordination for children with CP. This is because CP is the most common pediatric-onset physical disability. However, individuals with CP grow up, and thus the population of adults with CP is a rapidly growing population with unique healthcare needs. Led by Dr. Edward Hurvitz, our group of clinicians and researchers have emerged as one of the foremost groups, globally, to provide care for and study the unique healthcare needs facing adults with CP.

-Spinal Cord Injury: We have recently obtained both federal and foundation funding to examine factors that contribute to rehospitalization among patients with chronic SCI. The goal of this research is to leverage large data and high throughput machine learning to predict hospital readmission, and create an algorithm that can be applied to the electronic health records software such as Epic, with the objective of identifying patients with high risk for readmission. This would allow clinical providers to screen and intervene with the hope of preventing future morbidity, re-hospitalization, and early mortality.

  • How does your work apply to the field of precision health?

By leveraging large data and sophisticated modeling technologies such as artificial intelligence, we can contribute to the field of precision health by expanding the UM learning health system to better serve the needs of individuals living with neurodevelopmental and acquired disabilities. Most current efforts to apply precision health methodologies do not include persons with disabilities. These efforts will ultimately improve the continuity and coordination of care – thereby reducing health disparities in these marginalized populations.

  • What do you like to do when you aren’t doing research?

I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling the world, exercising, and exploring nature by kayak and bike.

  • Please provide links to recent/significant work: