Skip to main content

Heidi K. Ortmeyer, PhD

Academic Title:

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:


Additional Title:

VA Research Physiologist


Baltimore VA Medical Center, Room 4B-187 (

Phone (Primary):

(410) 605-7000 x55419


(410) 605-7913

Education and Training

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL: BA, Psychology, 1985

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL: BS, Food Science, 1985

University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD: Ph.D., Physiology, 1992

University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD: Fellow, Physiology, 1995




Research/Clinical Keywords

companion animal, human-animal interaction, heart rate variability, physical activity, older Veterans, skeletal muscle lipoprotein lipase, skeletal muscle glycogen synthase, mitochondrial enzyme activities, insulin resistance, insulin action

Highlighted Publications

Effects of Proximity between Companion Dogs and Their Caregivers on Heart Rate Variability Measures in Older Adults: A Pilot Study.

Ortmeyer HK, Katzel LI.  Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Apr 13;17(8). pii: E2674. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17082674

Companion Dog Foster Caregiver Program for Older Veterans at the VA Maryland Health Care System: A Feasibility Study.

Ortmeyer HK, Robey LC.  Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Nov 4;16(21). pii: E4285. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16214285

Combining Actigraph Link and PetPace Collar Data to Measure Activity, Proximity, and Physiological Responses in Freely Moving Dogs in a Natural Environment.

Ortmeyer HK, Robey L, McDonald T.  Animals (Basel). 2018 Dec 4;8(12). pii: E230. doi: 10.3390/ani8120230

Insulin suppression of fatty acid skeletal muscle enzyme activity in postmenopausal women, and improvements in metabolic flexibility and lipoprotein lipase with aerobic exercise and weight loss.

Ryan AS, Ortmeyer HKInt J Obes (Lond). 2018 Jun 15. doi: 10.1038/s41366-018-0068-3. [Epub ahead of print]  PMID:  29907844

Resistance training reduces inflammation and fatigue and improves physical function in older breast cancer survivors. 

Serra MC, Ryan AS, Ortmeyer HK, Addison O, Goldberg AP.  Menopause. 2018 Feb;25(2):211-216. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000969.  PMID:28832427

Exercise with weight loss improves adipose tissue and skeletal muscle markers of fatty acid metabolism in postmenopausal women.  Ortmeyer HK, Goldberg AP, Ryan AS.  Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.). 2017; 25(7):1246-53.

Skeletal muscle cellular metabolism in older HIV-infected men.  Ortmeyer HK, Ryan AS, Hafer-Macko C, Oursler KK.  Physiological reports. 2016; 4(9).  PMC4873639

Increased Skeletal Muscle Capillarization Independently Enhances Insulin Sensitivity in Older Adults After Exercise Training and Detraining.  Prior SJ, Goldberg AP, Ortmeyer HK, Chin ER, Chen D, Blumenthal JB, Ryan AS.  Diabetes. 2015; 64(10):3386-95.  PMC4587640

Aerobic exercise plus weight loss improves insulin sensitivity and increases skeletal muscle glycogen synthase activity in older men.  Ryan AS, Katzel LI, Prior SJ, McLenithan JC, Goldberg AP, Ortmeyer HK.  The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences. 2014; 69(7):790-8.  PMC4111634

Aerobic exercise + weight loss decreases skeletal muscle myostatin expression and improves insulin sensitivity in older adults.  Ryan AS, Li G, Blumenthal JB, Ortmeyer HK.  Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.). 2013; 21(7):1350-6. PMC3742694

Exercise with calorie restriction improves insulin sensitivity and glycogen synthase activity in obese postmenopausal women with impaired glucose tolerance.  Ryan AS, Ortmeyer HK, Sorkin JD.  American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism. 2012; 302(1):E145-52.  PMC3328088

Effects of aerobic and resistive exercise training on glucose disposal and skeletal muscle metabolism in older men.  Ferrara CM, Goldberg AP, Ortmeyer HK, Ryan AS.  The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences. 2006; 61(5):480-7.  16720745

Additional Publication Citations

Research Interests

Human-animal interaction: Older Veterans and Companion Dogs: Effects on physical activity, health, and quality of life


Skeletal muscle fatty acid and carbohydrate metabolism in aging, obesity, HIV, and stroke



Grants and Contracts

  1. Project Title:  Veterans as Foster Ambassadors

    • Project Number (PD/PI): No Project Number (Ortmeyer)

    • Source: Duffield Family Foundation

    • Major Goals: The aim of this project is to start a companion dog foster program for military veterans at the VAMHCS.  The short-term goal is to examine the effects of a two-month companion dog foster program on health, quality of life, and physical activity of older veterans.

    • Dates of Approved Project: 9/22/17-9/21/18

    • Annual Direct Costs: 25,000


  2.  Project Title:  Companion Dog Fostering Program for Older Veterans
    • Project Number (PD/PI): No Project Number (Ortmeyer)

    • Source: GEC/VACO

    • Major Goals: This is a clinical demonstration for older veterans with PTSD.

    • Dates of Approved Project: 3/2/18-3/1/19

    • Annual Direct Costs: 73,399

Community Service

Executive Director of Eskie Rescuers United, an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit animal rescue organization, 2007-present

Professional Activity

Editorial Board, Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2019-present

Chair, Subcommittee on Research Safety, VAMHCS, 2015-2019

Member, Subcommittee on Research Safety, VAMHCS, 2015-present

Member, Research and Development Committee, VAMHCS, 2012-present

VACO Subject Matter Expert, 2017-present