PolstonKeith Polston

I was a visiting medical student in 2016 from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC, Memphis, TN) working with Dr. Yarar-Fisher’s lab for the summer. I grew up in Nashville and attended Vanderbilt University as an undergraduate, with a degree in Neuroscience and Medicine, Health, and Society. Shortly thereafter, I moved to New Orleans and earned a Master’s degree in Human Genetics from Tulane University. I then worked in Maryland on a Department of Defense Genetics and Genomics project before returning to Tennessee for medical school.

My research project combined many of my interests and focuses on elucidating how diet- and/or exercise-based interventions in individuals with longstanding spinal cord injury (SCI) lead to improved metabolic profiles and skeletal muscle adaptations, as well as how the effects of diet and exercise differ from one another. To approach these questions, we analyzed several proteins and mRNAs related to skeletal muscle hypertrophy and metabolism. We expected to find differential expression of proteins and mRNAs in these two SCI populations, which could begin to explain metabolic risk profiles in these patients and guide future therapies to mitigate these risks.

I was fortunate enough to work in Dr. Yarar-Fisher’s lab for the summer through a grant from the Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP) in the Rehabilitation Research Experience for Medical Students (RREMS) program. This program enables students interested in the field of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R) the opportunity to spend the summer after the first year of medical school engaged in research in PM&R. After completing this project, I returned to UTHSC to continue in my second year of medical training.
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KyleKyle Hsu
Summer research intern
I am a high school student at the Altamont School in Birmingham, AL. For the past two summers in 2018 and 2019, I worked in UAB's Rehabilitation Medicine Laboratory under the leadership of Dr. Ceren Yarar-Fisher. I feel incredibly honored to be part of this research team, exploring potential new treatment options for people with spinal cord injury. It’s been very cool to work with really high-end lab equipment. I was thrilled to be selected to present a poster of the team's research "The Effects of Combined Neuromuscular Stimulation on Muscle Fiber Type and Cross-Sectional Area in People with Spinal Cord Injury" at the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine's 7th Annual Symposium on September 13, 2019. This study is ongoing, but we have seen a favorable change in muscle size and muscle fiber type after treatment. Outside of school, I am an avid foodie and enjoy running, traveling, and hanging out with friends. I am also an Eagle Scout. I have been playing piano since age 5 and won solo and concerto awards at local and state competitions.