NIH Diversity Supplement awarded to Dr. Jean Fry to study relationships between Vitamin D status and muscle quality following ACL injury

The University of Kentucky’s College of Health Sciences Assistant Professor in the Department of Athletic Training and Clinical Nutrition, Dr. Jean Fry, PhD, RDN, received an NIH-funded diversity supplement to determine if vitamin D status is a factor in muscle quality following an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear.

The molecular and nutritional data gathered from this supplement award will further support the ongoing parent trial project, “Mechanistic Assessment of Blood Flow Restricted Training for an ACL Injury,” which compares two methods of physical therapy to determine which is more effective for patients with ACL tear injuries.

“With my background in clinical nutrition and long-term interests in exercise, athletics and muscle composition, this supplement is a great opportunity for me to receive more training in muscle biology,” Fry said.

Diversity supplements provide career training and funding for students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty from racial, ethnic, educational and economic backgrounds that are underrepresented in science.

“This mechanism is designed to help people from a variety of diverse backgrounds to have more access to training and strong science mentors” Fry said, “and I think it is a great tool for our faculty and students who may be eligible for it!”

This research supplement has the potential to be both significant and innovative because it will define the role of a vitamin D deficiency as a driver of muscle atrophy and loss of oxidative metabolism after an ACL tear, which may lead to better medical nutrition therapy for patients recovering from orthopedic injury.

“Vitamin D is such an important hormone vitamin and there's a lot that's unknown about it,” Fry said, “and understanding these mechanisms may have implications for aging adults losing muscle mass and other orthopedic and musculoskeletal conditions.”

While under the mentorship of Charlotte Peterson, PhD, and Brian Noehren, PT, PhD, FACSM, for this two-year supplemental period, Fry compliments the knowledge and resources they have provided her with here at UK.

“Both UK and its faculty have given me such strong research support to help further develop my career, and I have been able to work with great mentors along the way.”