Octavia M. Peck-Palmer, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pathology

Dr. Peck Palmer has expertise in laboratory management, method validation, laboratory testing, and result interpretation. She actively engages in test consultation with physicians and healthcare professionals to enhance patient care. She teaches several Laboratory Medicine, Clinical Chemistry and Statistical courses for residents, fellows, medical students and graduate students. She was instrumental in transitioning the laboratory from stand-alone 'dry chemistry methods' to full automation 'wet chemistry' methods in 2009. In 2013, she played a large role in the physical relocation of the Presbyterian Automated Testing Laboratory and new instrument/assay validation. Currently, her research program is funded by a NIH KL2 grant that is focused on understanding the role that single-nucleotide polymorphisms in zinc proteins play in mediating racial differences in the susceptibility to community-acquired pneumonia and risk of severe sepsis.

Office Location:
Clinical Laboratory Building
3047 Euler Way, Room 3014
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Contact Information:
Office Telephone: 412-578-9489
Lab Telephone: 412-647-3990
Fax: 412-647-3998
Email: palmerom@upmc.edu


  • BS - Columbia College, Columbia, South Carolina, 2000
  • PhD - Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, 2005

Clinical Expertise

Dr. Peck Palmer's personal mission is to provide cutting edge testing methodology to our clients. Thus, ensuring clinically accurate and timely laboratory testing results are reported, that will aid in the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. She works with an exceptional laboratory staff conduct clinical testing on human samples for general chemistry, tumor, and endocrine biomarkers markers, toxicology, and therapeutic drug monitoring, using automated analyzers (ion-electrode methods, immunoassays), blood gas analysis (ion-electrode), L/S ratio, fetal fibronectin, and sweat testing.

Dr. Peck Palmer has expertise in laboratory management, laboratory automation, method validation, laboratory testing, and result interpretation. She conducts quality improvement studies with AP/CP residents that are focused on enhancing test accuracy, patient and staff safety, and cost savings. Her newest area of clinical research is examining the role of Laboratory Medicine in reducing health disparities.

Research Interests

Dr. Palmer conducts translational research that examines the mechanisms that mediate racial disparities in the incidence of infection-related hospitalizations and severe sepsis. Her research is funded by the national Institutes of Health (8KL2TR000146-07 University of Pittsburgh Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Scholars Program (CTSA KL2)). Dr. Palmer has expertise in basic research with both human and murine models of infection (flow cytometry, westernblotting, siRNA, cell lines, murine models of infection, ex vivo models of infection). She is also a faculty member in the internationally known Clinical Research, Investigation, and Systems Modeling of Acute illness (CRISMA) Institute at the University of Pittsburgh and collaborates with collaborators within the institute.

Dr. Palmer's laboratory recently identified the association of the zinc finger protein 816 (ZNF816) gene with differential risk of severe sepsis in individuals with community-acquired pneumonia. Here lab is characterizing the ZNF816 using human models of infection to understand its function and role in host immune response.


Clinical Chemistry, Laboratory Automation

Awards and Honors

  • 2012 - 2016 8KL2TR000146-07 University of Pittsburgh Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Scholars Program (CTSA KL2)
    NIH/National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
    'Genetic Variants in Zinc Proteins and Racial Differences in Infectious Diseases'
  • March 2014 Lab Director Travel Award
    Only six awarded by Mass Spectrometry Applications to the Clinical Laboratory (MSACL) MSACL 2014 Meeting
  • April 2012 Travel Awardee
    Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR) RCR4K Training study Translational Science Meeting 2012
  • 2010 CTSI Genomics and Proteomics Core Laboratory Pilot Grant University of Pittsburgh 'Transcriptomic Differences between Racial Groups'
  • 2008 FASEB# Postdoctoral Professional Development and Enrichment Award (#Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Inaugural award; only six awards recipients)
  • July 2008 1st Place-Poster Presentation Winner, Pediatric Maternal Fetal Division of AACC
  • June 2008 Paul E. Strandjord Young Investigator Award with Distinction ACLPS

    Selected Publications

    View Dr. Palmer's publications on PubMed

    1. Peck Palmer. How do you define success? Quo Vadis? Clinical Chemistry 58:1269, 2012.
    2. Lee SM, McLaughlin JN, Frederick DR, Zhu L, Thambiayya K, Wasserloos KJ, Kaminski I, Pearce L, Peterson J, Li J, Latoche JD, Peck Palmer O, Beer-Stolz D, Fattman CL, Alcorn JF, Oury TD, Angus DC, Pitt BR, Kaynar AM. Metallothionein-induced zinc partitioning exacerbates hyperoxic acute lung injury. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 304:L350-60, 2013.
    3. Berg A, Tamama K , Peck Palmer OM. Metabolic acidosis with discrepant lactate results. Clin Chem 59:713, 2013.
    4. Wheeler S, Liu L, Peck Palmer OM. Puzzling Phosphorus: Unlikely Results. Clin Chem 59:1415, 2013.
    5. Rhoads D, Sivak R, Peck Palmer OM. Plasma Abnormalities Following Overdose. Clin Chem 60:1020, 2014.
    6. Barthlow T, Peck Palmer OM. Cyst, What Art Thou. Clin Chem 60:1459, 2014.
    7. Liu L, Wheeler SE, Rymer JA, Lower DR, Zona J, Peck Palmer OM, Tamama K. Ranitidine interference with standard amphetamine immunoassay. Chimica Clinica Acta doi:10.1016/j.cca.2014.09.012
    8. Zacherl JR, Tourkova I, Mihalik SJ, St Croix CM, Robinson LJ, Peck Palmer OM, Blair HC. Elaidate, an 18-Carbon Trans-monoenoic Fatty Acid, but not Physiological Fatty Acids Increases Intracellular Zn2+ in Human Macrophages. J Cell Biochem, 116: 524-532. doi:10.1002/jcb.25002
    9. Anani W, Fox C, Peck Palmer OM. A 72 year old female with markedly elevated ferritin. Clin Chem 61:3, 561-569, 2015.
    10. Seheult J, Moghe A, Palmer, O M. Highlighting Analytical Issues in the Quantitative Measurement of Urine Albumin. American Society of Clinical Pathology (accepted June 23, 2015)