Zenner Continues To Balance Medical Field and NFL

Zenner Continues To Balance Medical Field and NFL

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A former South Dakota State football standout has had early success playing in the NFL, but he’s also working on another career path- this one in medicine.

Zach Zenner was in Sioux Falls today to speak with scientists at Sanford’s Imagenetics lab. Zenner just finished his 3rd year playing professional football where he’s scored 5 touchdowns overall.

The 26-year-old will stay plenty busy in the off season– not just practicing and working out. He’s teaming up with Sanford Imagenetics scientists to conduct a medical research project.

“We’re going to figure out where exactly I fit in a project and then determine how that will work from a distance, but the first step will be understanding the basic science of what the lab is trying to do, and so I have a background of what I’m doing,” says Zenner.

He doesn’t know what he’ll study yet, but this project is another stepping stone towards his ultimate goal of becoming a doctor. His main focus for now is still the NFL, so Zenner will do his work from Detroit.

“Just with the circumstances with football and with my family at this time it’s best if I stay out there in Michigan. Anything that I do with the lab I’ll be helping remotely with some data analysis, getting to know the science and getting involved in a project that way,” says Zenner.

Zenner’s no rookie when it comes to research. He’s already completed several projects, and the findings of one of them were put in print last month. It’s titled: Free Radical Scavenging Reverses Fructose-Induced Salt-Sensitive Hypertension.

“Now to see it finally be published is cool. it’s a fun little reward, and for what it means for me in the future I’ve been told by my mentors is that it’s going to mean a lot,” says Zenner.

What also means a lot is having the option of a second career especially when his NFL days come to an end.

“I don’t need football. Whenever I’m done or feel like I can’t play anymore I don’t have a pressure to push myself beyond what I’m comfortable,” says Zenner.

It’s unknown how long the project will last.

Zenner has been accepted to USD’s medical school. He plans to attend once his playing career is over.

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