Make Your Mark: Jayme Hentig From Patient to PhD. Regeneration Requires a New Path

Blog, Make Your Mark | 01/19/2022

“The saying is courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to do it anyway that is a lot easier when you have help.” -Jayme Hentig, 2020 Tillman Scholar

Our Make Your Mark series, powered by the NFL, showcases the global impact of the Tillman Scholars who are writing the story of a better future. In these videos, they share their works of humble leadership and service across both public and private sectors.

In his Make Your Mark talk, originally given at the 2021 Tillman Honors, Tillman Scholar Jayme Hentig reflects on his journey from patient to PhD. Overcoming his fears and neurological deficits in pursuit of continuing service out of uniform and returning to the military community.

Jayme joined the U.S. Army following high school, serving as an airborne combat medic and while deployed to Afghanistan with the 173rd Airborne in late 2009, he witnessed and treated numerous TBI even becoming a victim of one himself. Those experiences motivated Jayme to go from patient to Ph.D.—becoming the catalyst that led him to the field of neuroscience and the foundation of his education, his research and his volunteer work.

Following medical retirement in 2012, Jayme attended Western Michigan University where he received his B.S. in biology and chemistry minor, with a concentration in neuroscience. As an undergraduate he began his scientific career investigating therapeutic candidates following trauma to the central nervous system, publishing a first-author paper identifying neuronal protection in the adult zebrafish following damage.

Jayme is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Notre Dame, where he has developed a novel blunt-force TBI model in regenerative zebrafish allowing for the examination of both the injury and the regenerative recovery. His work has been nationally recognized by the National Science Foundation, and he has identified injury-induced activated regeneration, the originating regenerative source, and replacement of lost and damaged brain tissue. He aims to further understand the complex gene regulation providing a potential neuroprotective and regenerative therapeutic to at-risk populations such as service members.