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LSU Health New Orleans Medical Student Profiled by Prestigious AHA Journal

Dr. David Polhemus

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David Polhemus, PhD, a recent grad of LSU Health New Orleans School of Graduate Studies now in his first year of medical school at LSU Health New Orleans, uses failure as motivation, saying it pushes him to work even harder. That is but one characteristic readers of Circulation Research can learn about this impressive young health professional featured this month in the American Heart Association journal.

Dr. Polhemus graduated with a PhD in Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics from LSU Health New Orleans School of Graduate Studies in May 2017. He also received the Chancellor’s Award, the highest honor recognizing research performance as demonstrated by the quality of the dissertation and related research accomplishments while a student in the School of Graduate Studies.

Polhemus’ research investigates a new approach to manage heart failure. He is part of a team in the Lefer lab at LSU Health New Orleans Cardiovascular Center of Excellence studying renal sympathetic denervation. This minimally invasive procedure silences nerves involved in the release of hormones related to high blood pressure. These same nerves may also play a role in heart failure.

“Current strategies for managing heart failure are pharmacologic, and they have limitations such as cost, unintended side effects, and patient compliance,” Polhemus notes in the profile by Pam Goldberg-Smith. “This alternative strategy is not drug based but could, in fact, replace or supplement current therapies.”*

Polhemus is featured in a new section of the journal – Trainees in the Spotlight. According to Dr. Roberto Bolli, the journal’s editor-in-chief, “The goal is to highlight trainees who have distinguished themselves by virtue of their work performance, potential for growth, personal qualities or attributes, or other factors deemed important by their mentors. We hope that by focusing on individuals with outstanding qualities, notable achievements, or unique backgrounds and perspectives, Trainees in the Spotlight will stimulate reflection and motivate others.”* The article about this new section is available here.

Polhemus has already enjoyed success with his research, even at this early stage of his career.

Circulation Research
“I have had the unique opportunity to play a role in translating a discovery that we made in mice into clinical trials in humans,” says Polhemus in the article. “We found that in mice, hydrogen sulfide improves cardiac remodeling and function during heart failure. Currently, the same hydrogen sulfide drug that we tested in mice is being examined in clinical trials as a possible heart failure therapeutic.”*

Although he continues to do research at the Center, Polhemus has now begun the next phase of his career – becoming an MD, too.

“My plans are to be an academic physician-scientist, likely in Cardiology.”

David Polhemus’ profile is available online here.

*Reprinted with permission from Circulation Research