Courtney Petersen presented her research at the 6th annual Greater Washington DC Area Physiological Society conference today. This research was conducted with Dr. Matthew Wolf at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and Dr. Jeremy Smyth at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland.
Courtney’s research was focused on cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart’s muscle that can make it harder for the heart to pump blood out to the body and can lead to heart failure. Because cardiomyopathies affect about 1 in 500 people and there is currently no cure, Courtney’s research is aimed at trying to figure out how the disease develops as that may one day lead to preventive treatments. Her research involves studying how the heart stores and uses calcium as calcium is vital for muscle contraction. Using drosophila as a model, they found that impairments in these calcium pathways results in the development of cardiomyopathy.