KU News Service

Professor to take part in study for supplement's role in muscle growth

Mon, 08/18/2014

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas professor has been chosen to take part in a grant project that will test the role of a dietary supplement in muscle growth for everyone from athletes to the elderly and has also been named educator of the year by the granting agency.

Andrew Fry, professor of health, sport and exercise science, will be a co-investigator on a grant from the National Strength and Conditioning Association that investigates the role of nitric oxide synthase, a compound that stimulates production of nitric oxide, which appears to play a role during hypertrophy, or muscle growth.

“It certainly has potential for high-level performers such as athletes,” Fry said of the compound. “But it also has implications for a whole range of people who need to grow muscle for a variety of reasons, such as the elderly, patients fighting cancer and many others.”

Fry will conduct the testing with colleagues Zsolt Radak and Zsolt Murlasits, faculty members at Semmelweis University in Budapest Hungary. The researchers will test the compound in rats. The rats have three major muscles of interest in their legs, one primary and two “support” muscles. The support muscles will be removed among a group of rats. Some will get the compound as a supplement in their food and others will receive a placebo. The rats will take part in a program designed to mimic strength conditioning. The remaining muscle will undoubtedly have to compensate for the other two, Fry said, but the researchers will see what role the supplement plays in that muscle growth by examining signaling pathways and the role of a protein known as mTOR.

“The intent is to see if a dietary supplement with nitric oxide synthase has an effect. We’ll look at the size of the individual muscle fibers and we’ll look for some particular proteins that are activated when muscle growth occurs,” Fry said.

The results could potentially make a difference in both sport and exercise sciences. The two are often confused due to their similarities. Where sport science looks primarily at improving performance on the field of play, exercise science looks at improving health, strength and related factors among individuals for purposes such as physical therapy, general fitness, personal training, military and law enforcement and recovery from illness.

Fry will travel to Budapest regularly for the research. In addition to the grant project, he intends to help establish contacts for students and lay the groundwork for exchanges between the two universities. That network could lead to research opportunities for students, further collaboration between faculty members in the two countries and a chance for students from each country to study abroad.

Fry’s work with students recently earned him the title of “Educator of the Year” from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He was nominated for the award and chosen based on his classroom work, teaching philosophy, community work and student results, such as internships. Fry teaches classes in methods of strength training and conditioning, kinesiology, biomechanics, skeletal muscle physiology and exercise endocrinology. He also volunteers with area youth sport organizations and recently authored the “Strength Training Workbook.” The book guides students through the process of taking theories they learn from their classes and using them to design a detailed strength and conditioning program for a wide variety of audiences and explaining how and why they designed the program the way they did.

“(The book) looks at how you can create a detailed program custom made to fit the needs of an individual or organization,” Fry said. “Whether the purpose is rehabilitation, general fitness, sport, a school setting or others, the students are required to explain why they chose what they did. From an educational standpoint it’s easy to talk about it, now you have to go do it and be accountable.”

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Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here:
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

.@KU bschool 's KIP team includes @KU _SADP students in all-ages housing project. #KUworks
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.

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