Octavia M. Peck-Palmer, PhD

Division Director, Clinical Chemistry, Associate Professor of Pathology

Dr. Peck Palmer is the Director of the Division of Clinical Chemistry in the Section of Laboratory Medicine. 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.

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.


Clinical Chemistry, Laboratory Automation

Education & Training
BS - Columbia College, Columbia, South Carolina, 2000
PhD - Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, 2005
Lab Director Travel Award - Only six awarded by Mass Spectrometry Applications to the Clinical Laboratory (MSACL). MSACL 2014 Meeting, March 1-5, 2014
Research Interests

Sepsis is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Not only is sepsis a major public health issue, but the incidence of sepsis is significantly higher in black compared to white Americans. Our laboratory conducts translational research focused on understanding the host immune response in the pathogenesis of severe sepsis. We are examining the immune response in individuals of differing ancestry to determine if and how they respond to infection differently. This knowledge may provide key insights for personalized management of infections and severe sepsis. We have identified several transcriptomic differences between self-identified black and white patients diagnosed with community-acquired pneumonia (the most common cause of severe sepsis). Specifically, we are investigating pathways involved in mediating inflammation, apoptosis, coagulation and metal-binding (zinc and iron).

Research Grants
  • 8KL2TR000146-07 University of Pittsburgh Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Scholars Program (CTSA KL2) - Clinical Research Scholar, 2011-2016, Genetic Variants in Zinc Proteins and Racial Differences in Infectious Diseases, NIH/National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
  • ProACT Planning Grant (1R34-GM102696-01) - 09/23/2013-07/31/2018 (PI: David Huang, MD ), Role: Co-I. My role on the grant is to implementation the clinical laboratory component of the 'Procalcitonin Antibiotic Consensus Trial (PRoACT)'. Provide the expertise in test validation, patient sample management, test consultation (for all enrollment sites) and data interpretation.
  • Army, United First Responders grant- Co-PI, 2011-2013, 'Remote Biomedical Detector: Biomedical Detector Validation Using Human Samples.' The goal of this program of research is to complete the R&D and result in a commercially available product offering for an EMS-based/field-based system of rapid assessment and early detection of myocardial infarction and other medically significant events such as renal failure/infection/sepsis, that have military and civilian significance to impact key mission-related and/or life-saving capability prior to hospital arrival.
Representative Publications

View Dr. Palmer's publications on PubMed

  • Wheeler S, R, Liu L, Peck Palmer OM. Phosphorus Results Incompatible with Life. Clin Chem 59:1415-1416, 2013.
  • Rhoads D, Sivak R, Peck Palmer OM. Plasma Abnormalities Following Overdose. Clin Chem 60:7, 1020-1021, 2014.
  • Bartholow T and Peck Palmer OM. Cyst, what art thou. Clin Chem 60:1459, 2014.
  • 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.2014.09.01.
  • 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.
  • Anani W, Fox C, Peck Palmer OM. A 72 year old female with markedly elevated ferritin. Clin Chem 61:3, 561-569, 2015.
  • Seheult J, Moghe A, Palmer OM. Highlighting Analytical Issues in the Quantitative Measurement of Urine Albumin. American Society of Clinical Pathology (accepted)
  • Palmer OM, Mayr FB, Song C, Halder I, Yende S, Tseng G, Weissfeld LA, Kellum J. A, Wunderink R G, Yealy D M, Angus DC. Ethnic Differences in the Host Response to Community-Acquired Pneumonia. (revisions under review- PLOS One)