Hunter Holthoff '07

Hunter Holthoff '07

Biology major, chemistry minor

Graduate student at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Current projects

I am currently enrolled in the combined M.D./Ph.D program at UAMS. The program is a 7-year program that allows students interested in practicing medicine, while still engaging in research, to obtain both degrees in a more timely fashion. I just began my 5th year of the program, and I will defend my Ph.D. dissertation in the spring and return to the clinical rotations of medical school in the summer of 2012.

My Ph.D dissertation is entitled "Preclinical Evaluation of Resveratrol in Sepsis-Induced Kidney Injury." Sepsis is a condition that affects 750,000 patients each year in the U.S. and the development of kidney injury is a frequent complication of sepsis that doubles the mortality rate to around 80%. Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in red wine that we believe could be beneficial in the treatment of septic kidney injury because of its antioxidant properties. My studies consist of an investigation of the therapeutic potential of resveratrol to prevent kidney injury during sepsis, as well as an investigation into the optimal dosing schedule, and the mechanism of action for protection.

Undergraduate Research

As an undergraduate student at Hendrix College, I was encouraged strongly to participate in research, both within the college and outside of campus. This encouragement was critical to my decision to pursue a research-centered career. Growing up in rural Arkansas, I had never been exposed to the option of a career in research until I came to Hendrix. When I entered Hendrix, I had every intention of only going to medical school and becoming a clinical physician but Hendrix College opened my mind to so much more. After becoming active in research while at Hendrix, I realized my passion for science and I now hope to fuse research into an integral part of my future clinical practice.

Following my junior year at Hendrix I was encouraged to apply to the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at UAMS. The participation in the program would ultimately be what sparked my interest in research, and in fact I am currently doing my dissertation work under the same mentor that I participated with that summer at UAMS.

Following the SURF program at UAMS and my realization of my passion for science, I pursued undergraduate research on-campus at Hendrix College. I worked in the lab of Dr. Duina my senior year and the following summer before attending medical school. This was a great experience that taught me valuable scientific skills and furthered my interest in science. Dr. Duina is a great teacher who is very patient (essential to being a great undergraduate instructor) and has an obvious passion for science. He was in the lab every day that summer working with the students and performing experiments himself, and you could see his excitement about the results of the experiments. His passion really inspired me and still does to this day on those late nights and early mornings.

How Hendrix prepared me for success

My experiences with research at Hendrix (both on campus and off-campus) inspired me to pursue a career in research. Without these experiences at Hendrix College, I doubt I would have ever considered research as a career. But now, I couldn't see myself doing anything else. Also, the academic preparation that I received at Hendrix was outstanding. Hendrix College teaches the students to think, not just learn. The skills, knowledge, and discipline I learned while at Hendrix were essential to my survival in the first few years of medical and graduate school.

Future plans

Following the defense of my dissertation in the spring of 2012, I will return full-time to the College of Medicine to complete the last 2 years of the program. Upon graduation, I plan to pursue a residency position with protected time for research that will allow me to lay the foundation for a career in academic medicine.

My advice

Seize every opportunity that you are presented. There is a wealth of opportunity available such as on-campus research and small class sizes allowing you to develop a personal relationship with the professor. Take some classes outside of the department of your major to make yourself a more well rounded person and student.