Marie Norris is a metabolic Registered dietitian and doctoral student at the University of Utah investigating the way a lipid, ceramide, contributes to disease pathogenesis in A group of genetic conditions that affect how the body breaks down fats to make energy., which is a new and exciting avenue of sphingolipid research. Mounting evidence reveals that elevated ceramides contribute to An abnormal condition of the heart muscle. Occurs in some kinds of mitochondrial disease. and heart failure in both humans and rodents, and that cardiac function improves with ceramide depletion. The overarching goal of her doctoral research is to identify novel mechanisms by which ceramides contribute to cardiomyopathy pathogenesis and heart failure progression in patients with fatty acid oxidation disorders. Specifically, she critically tests whether ceramides are necessary and sufficient to induce cardiac hypertrophy, The thickening and scarring of connective tissue., The well-regulated process of programmed, intentional cell death. It allows for controlled removal of cells that are either defective or diseases, or are no longer needed and due to be replaced as a p..., and This is when mitochondria do not work as well as they should due to another disease or condition. Many conditions can lead to secondary dysfunction. in animal models of fatty acid oxidation disorders. She was recently awarded with the University of Utah Graduate Student Travel Award to present her research at the Genetic Metabolic Dietitians International Conference. Prior to starting her PhD, she was a metabolic dietitian at Seattle Children’s Hospital where she carefully crafted complex nutrient prescriptions for each patient based on clinical, biochemical, social, and physical parameters. In this role, she also actively participated in clinical research, published papers outlining nutrition therapy for fatty acid oxidation disorders, published a paper detailing nutrition-specific considerations to make when using Triheptanoin, and published a study of carnitine deficiency among critically ill patients receiving ECMO therapy. With a particular fondness for lipid metabolism, she grew especially passionate about improving care for patients with fatty acid oxidation disorders and decided to pursue a PhD. She is committed to these patients and determined to identify novel therapeutic targets for them.