Leigh Peterson

Leigh Peterson


Aug 2009 - Present

Master of Health Science

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Building upon my experience researching sleep apnea at the School of Medicine and my previous coursework at the School of Public Health, I earned my Master's in the W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology.  I developed my interest in dermal immunity and the role of nutrition, specifically vitamin D, in immunological competence.

The MHS program is a nine-month program that requires coursework, a scholarly literature-based essay, and a seminar presentation. MHS students must complete 64 credit hours during the four terms of the academic year. Required courses account for about one half of that number.

Molecular Microbiology and Immunology integrates many disciplines (biochemistry, infectious diseases, virology, parasitology, molecular biology, immunology, ecology structural biology) concerned with the study of the transmission, immunobiology, and pathogenesis of bacterial, parasitic, viral, immunological and infectious diseases of public health importance. Research is at the population, organismal, cellular, and molecular levels. The central premise of this broad approach to the study of disease is that public health problems can best be addressed by understanding basic biological mechanisms. Our research aims to advance the understanding of the biology of disease and to use this knowledge to solve public health problems. Research takes place in the laboratory, in the clinic, and in the field, as the faculty works to combat such enormous public health problems as malaria, sexually transmitted diseases, mosquito-borne encephalitis, tuberculosis, diarrhea, measles, AIDS, and autoimmune diseases.

Sep 2010 - Present

Doctor of Philosophy

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The goals of the Human Nutrition program are to

  • develop new, practical approaches for the assessment of nutritional status
  • improve understanding of the biochemical and metabolic processes associated with nutritional diseases
  • propose effective strategies for the prevention of those diseases

As part of the Department of International Health, the program focuses on nutritional issues of developing countries, although it also works on domestic issues in coordination with the Center for Human Nutrition. The multidisciplinary nature of nutrition is reflected in the program's faculty, which includes pediatricians, biochemists, epidemiologists, physiologists, anthropologists, and biostatisticians. Beyond their primary specialty, all program faculty have expertise in public health nutrition and in field work in developing countries.

Through required and elective course work, doctoral students are able to concentrate in the areas of international nutrition, nutritional biochemistry, nutritional epidemiology, nutritional anthropology, or clinical nutrition. Opportunities for thesis research include the study of maternal and child nutrition, obesity, relationships between diet and chronic diseases, micronutrient deficiencies (with emphasis on vitamin A, iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, and iodine) and nutrition interventions in developing countries, protein-energy metabolism in health and disease, and use of stable isotopes for metabolic research.

I am creating my own emphasis of nutritional immunology using my knowledge from my MHS in MMI.  Further opportunities for this exist in the Global Disease Epidemiology and Control (GDEC) Division of the Department of International Health.  GDEC is represented by faculty members actively involved in the pursuit of improved techniques for prevention of morbidity and mortality caused by diseases affecting disadvantaged populations.  Research activities include phases I, II, and III clinical trials, community trials, epidemiological studies, and disease surveillance activities, supported by laboratory studies as appropriate. Most faculty members have field experience in developing countries, contribute to the development of policy regarding control of important diseases, and have worked in collaboration with international agencies and developing-country institutions and scientists.

Jan 2007 - Mar 2009

Non-Degree Seeking

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

I have taken the following courses for my own interest and curiosity:1) Molecular Biology Of Disease

    "Discusses molecular biology approaches to explain the mechanisms and detection of human disease. Presents some current DNA recombinant techniques and their application to aspects of human genetic disease; molecular basis of selected human genetic diseases; and ethical issues associated with prenatal screening and gene therapy. Additional topics include isolation of cDNAs and genes; identification of mutations; prenatal screening; positional cloning; chromosome walking and jumping; animal models; and gene therapy."2) Biological Basis Of Aging

    "Emphasizes the fundamental nature of the aging process at the molecular, cellular, and organismal level and examines the principles of aging in other animal species which may apply to man. Presents the physiological aspects of the different organs/systems affected by the disease processes (e.g., skeletal, cardiovascular, metabolic, neurobiological, and immunological.) Discusses the theoretical models of aging."3) Special Topics In Biochemistry: Glycobiology - Biosynthesis, Function, And Regulation

    "Seminar course covers recent advances in glycobiology, emphasizing biosynthesis, function, and regulation in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems. Class session discussions of recent journal articles that everyone has read prior to the class."4) Seminar On Aging, Cognition And Neurodegenerative Disorders

    "Addresses age-related cognitive and neuropsychiatric disorders that are of particular importance with the rapid expansion of the aging population. Focuses on the major domains of cognition and comparison of the age-related changes that occur in each cognitive domain. Includes emphasis on contrasting the major neurodegenerative disorders related to age and describing the clinical presentation and pattern of cognitive change in each condition. Participants address current strategies for maximizing cognitive function with age and treatment strategies for the primary neurodegenerative disorders. Participants examine and identify gaps in knowledge and research approaches to fill these gaps. Explores concepts of cognitive systems, animal and imaging models, and selective pathological change with age and disease."5) Tutorial in Tissue Injury, Inflammation, and Repair

    "Covers the biochemical and pathophysiological mechanisms of acute and chronic inflammation, including immediate and delayed hypersensitivity and the response to physical, chemical, and microbial tissue damage. Discusses cell membrane function; capillary permeability; histamine, kinins, plasmin, complement, icosanoids; blood clotting; chemotaxis; and other inflammatory mediators produced by various blood cells."

Sep 2002 - May 2006

BS with Distinction in the Major


Due to my interest in medicine, I decided to combine the study of biology with the study of chemistry and major in biochemistry.  I graduated with Distinction in the Major due to my senior thesis,“Analysis of Echinacea and St. John’s Wort via High Performance Liquid Chromatography.”

I opted to work with herbal supplements due to their popularity and lack of regulation.  I found that markers in St. John’s Wort varied very little while markers in Echinacea varied greatly both between and within brands as well as bottles of the same brand.  Studies on Echinacea have had varied results, while those on St. John’s Wort have been more definite.  My findings correlated with clinical studies and suggested that regulation is needed.The thesis was a year long project—a summation of my undergraduate experience.  I devised my idea and then chose an advisor, Dr. Vladmir Garkov, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Mary Baldwin College (MBC).  All data collection and analysis were performed independently.  A formal presentation for the committee was also required to defend my research and findings.  In addition, I was given the honor of presenting my thesis as a lesson to the Experimental Biological Chemistry course.

Sep 1998 - Jan 2002


Owen J. Roberts High School

Work experience

Work experience
Oct 2010 - Present

Teaching Assistant

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

I have helped to implement a new course entitled, “Infection, Immunity and Undernutrition: Interactions and Effects.”My duties include reviewing the literature to create appropriate outlines for each lecture, organizing speakers from around the world, developing tests and assignments, helping students throughout the course, as well as grading assignments.

Jul 2011 - Present

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins University International Vaccination Access Center

• Adult Global Estimation of Disease Burden and Distribution of serotypes of serious pneumococcal and meningococcal disease (AGEDD) project• Literature review and analysis for two purposes:1) To determine the global burden of meningococcal disease2) To determine vaccine access and efficacy globally

Jun 2011 - Jun 2011

Participant, The Mary Frances Picciano Dietary Supplement Research Practicum

Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health

• Selected applicant for this intensive educational practicum on the practical issues regarding dietary supplements, their ingredients, and related research• Key participants included researchers, faculty, manufacturers, and congressional representatives

Jun 2010 - Nov 2010

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Research focused on the characterization of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the induction of protective T-cell mediated immunity against malaria parasites. Using transgenic mice bearing T cell receptors specific for parasite antigens recognized by CD8+ or CD4+ T cells, we conducted studies to characterize the molecular and genetic events involved in the development and maintenance of effector anti-parasite T cells and the mechanisms of interaction during the development of immunity against infection. Our research combined in vivo immuno-physiology studies together with molecular and genetic approaches emphasizing characterization of tissue-trafficking of activated CD8+ T cells and the development of memory subsets. These studies provided the rationale and experimental basis for research aimed at developing an anti-malaria vaccine for humans.

Jul 2006 - Jul 2010

Research Coordinator

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

My experience researching the pathogenesis and treatment of sleep apnea at Hopkins School of Medicine reaffirmed and built upon my previous experiences.  While I worked in the Sleep Disorders Center, I was involved in:

-Patient recruitment -Running and analyzing sleep study experiments -Collecting samples from the operating room for our bariatric surgery study

-Organizing data collected

-Preparing abstracts, papers, and grants

I was able to help our research participants help themselves by getting them the best diagnosis and treatment available. In turn, they helped us develop better means of diagnosis and treatment. The ability to facilitate participants to help other human beings was exponentially rewarding.   I was promoted from my initial position, Research Assistant / Polysomnogram Technician, to Research Coordinator.  I learned even more in this new more involved position.

Jan 2005 - May 2006

Annual Fund Phonathon Supervisor/Caller

Mary Baldwin College Spencer Society

Spencer Society is a group of elite Mary Baldwin women.  Spencer Society and the Annual Fund Phonathon it supports are designed to maintain alumni relations as well as raise funds to continue the tradition of excellence at Mary Baldwin College.  I started as a caller in the Spencer Society and was quickly promoted to supervisor.  Despite playing a managerial role, I was able to raise $13,646 my senior year.

Jan 2003 - May 2006

Manager/Instructor of Recreational Aerobics

Mary Baldwin College

The Recreational Aerobics program is designed to give students, staff, and faculty the opportunity to stay active even if the only free time available is lunch time.  I started leading aerobics sessions and was given the opportunity to take greater responsibility after my first semester.  I was in charge of scheduling and advertising the entire Recreational Aerobics program.  I saw a need for a different kind of session, so I started holding yogilates sessions after my second semester.

Feb 2005 - Nov 2005

Resident Advisor

Mary Baldwin College

As a trained student leader in the residence halls, I functioned as a resource for the students as well as the Office of Residence Life.  I held seminars three times a semester on mind, body, spirit, and combintations of these three topics.  I also had "office hours" for ten regularly scheduled hours every week.

Jan 1998 - Aug 2004

Administrative Assistant/Sales and Service Representative

Frame Enterprises, Inc.

Frame Enterprises, Inc. is family owned.  We started as a lawn care and snow removal company and later opened a power equipment store.  I have mowed lawns, planted and cared for flower beds, helped organize the new business, answered phones, taken service orders, maintained inventory, billed house accounts, and sold small parts up to commercial machines costing thousands of dollars.



Microsoft Office

Proficient in the use of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  Also able to use Access and Outlook.


Good Laboratory Technique





Sep 2001 - Feb 2011

Certified First Responder

American Heart Association / Red Cross