Advancing the Science

Mayo Clinic Medical Science Blog

October 4th, 2016

Prostate biopsies down, complications up

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

Researchers are seeking ways to make prostate cancer biopsies safer.

While absolute rates of biopsy and post-biopsy complications have decreased after several benchmark prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening publications, the relative risk for each patient continues to increase, according to a new study by Mayo Clinic researchers.
The study is the largest to examine the impact of PSA screening trials and revised PSA screening guidelines on rates of prostate biopsy and the first to examine their impact on post-biopsy complications. The results, published in the March 2016 issue of European Urology, suggest a need to reduce the harm associated with biopsy.

Photograph of R. Jeffrey [...]
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Tags: Jeffrey Karnes, kern center, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Optum Labs, OptumLabs, Prostate Cancer, prostate cancer biopsy, prostate-specific antigen PSA

September 27th, 2016


By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

Surgeons find short breaks prove valuable in providing best care

Sixty-second stretch breaks during surgery reduces pain and discomfort for the surgical team, helping them focus on the patient.

Perfecting a skill requires equal parts natural talent, dedication and practice. A concert violinist plays a single piece of music over and over. A major league pitcher hurls strikes across home plate until the stadium lights go out. And a surgeon spends day after day leaning over an operating table while maintaining mental focus on the patient.

For all three, this kind of physical exertion and repetition stresses the body, leaving it vulnerable to work-related injuries that, over time, can cut careers short. [...]

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Tags: Juliane Bingener, Juliane Bingener-Casey, kern center, microbreaks, Science of health care delivery, surgery, Susan Hallbeck, health care systems engineering

September 13th, 2016

What is stopping patients from enrolling in clinical trials?

By meghanknoedler meghanknoedler

ovarian-cancerClinical trials are the mechanism through which new and promising therapies for safe, effective cancer treatment ultimately become available.  Not only do trials help identify new or best-practice therapeutic treatment options, but the act of participating in a trial has been shown to actually improve survival.

One of the most promising areas of research to fight cancer involves immunotherapy -- the use of vaccines or viruses as anti-cancer agents.  Immunotherapeutic approaches through the use of vaccines, stimulates the body’s own cells to identify and fight cancer cells, utilizing a similar mechanism of action as we do with common childhood vaccines including measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). Viral therapies introduce a virus into [...]

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Tags: cancer research, Carmen Radecki-Breitkopf, clinical trials, CSHCD, immunotherapy, kern center, ovarian cancer, virotherapy

September 13th, 2016

Mayo Clinic Investigator Pushes for more Research on Osteoporosis Treatment

By Sara Tiner saratiner


Osteoporotic bone

Crumbling infrastructure puts us at risk, especially if it’s our own internal, bony frame.

But patients dealing with thinning bone in hips and spine have a choice to make.

They can accept the inevitable slumping spine and eventual hip fracture with all its associated disability that is quite likely to occur, or roll the dice with complications from osteoporosis medications.

“Many, many patients who really need treatment are not taking it because of those concerns,” says Sundeep Khosla, M.D., practicing endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Khosla is one of the top osteoporosis experts in the world and a past president of the American Society for [...]

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September 8th, 2016

Time does not heal all wounds

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann


Makshita "Maks" Luthra is a Master of Public Health candidate specializing in Public Health Administration & Policy, a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Minnesota, and an associate health services analyst in the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery


Childhood obesity has girl-eating-donut-1x1more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. It is often linked to unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyle. Another significant factor associated with obesity in children and adolescents are “adverse childhood experiences,” or ACEs. ACEs are [...]

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Tags: ACE score, adverse childhood experiences, adverse family experiences, Bryan Lynch, Lila Rutten, Population Health Scholar

September 2nd, 2016

Looking Back to Move Forward: Medical Surveys are Worth Your Time

By Sara Tiner saratiner

Surveys can be a pain when you’re buying coffee or shoes, or surfing the web. Or maybe you find them fun—what color or literary character are you anyway?

But is the current survey deluge training us to ignore the ones that actually matter? Ask Ann Harris, associate director of Mayo Clinic’s Survey Research Center, and she’ll nod.

“Now everyone has a survey,” she says. “I think we've just over-surveyed people and our challenge coming up is how do we do this?”
Survey Says…
Mayo Clinic sends thousands of surveys a year to patients.

They flow out over the internet of course, but also by phone and (snail) mail. But the surveys don’t flow back in [...]

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Tags: Survey Research Center, surveys

August 16th, 2016

Getting it RIGHT - Individualized medicine is getting very personal

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

The RIGHT Protocol studies the impact of getting patients the right drug at the right dose at the right time based on their genetic information.

10,000 people help answer a basic individualized medicine question

Nearly 1 out of every 3 American adults has high blood pressure. About 70 percent of them take medication for their condition, but only half have it under control. Why? The answer gets to the heart of individualized medicine: Because each person has a unique genetic makeup, everyone responds differently to drugs.

In recent years, individualized medicine, sometimes called precision medicine, has made headlines by predicting the possibility an individual may develop a specific disease [...]

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Tags: Biobank, Center for Individualized Medicine, CIM, Individualized Medicine, Jennifer St Sauver, kern center, personalized medicine, RIGHT 10K, RIGHT Protocol, Weinshilboum

August 10th, 2016

Rochester Epidemiology Project – 50 Years of making a difference in health care, despite the “Lake Wobegon effect”

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

3209582_0201_silverlake1 In 2012, Rochester Epidemiology Project (REP) co-directors Walter Rocca, M.D., Mayo Clinic; and Barbara Yawn, M.D., Olmsted Medical Center; and their colleagues, published a paper describing the generalizability of epidemiological findings from one population to others.

Their premise - health and health care information derived from the largely ethnically homogeneous population in Olmsted County, Minnesota, and more recently in the 27 counties that comprise the REP, can indeed impact our ability to provide better care – regionally, nationally and beyond.

“We suffer from the Lake Wobegon effect,” laments Dr. Rocca. “People say, ‘ah yes, Minnesota, the place where all women are strong, all men are good looking, all children are above average, and you have a lot of cornfields – but what could you possibly tell me about my much more diverse population?’” [...]

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Tags: Big Data, Olmsted County, Olmsted County Public Health Service, Olmsted Medical Center, OMC, population health, REP, Rochester Epidemiology Project

August 4th, 2016

What’s best for my child? What’s best for my patient?

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

Informed consent made easier in pediatric emergency sedation
The science of health care delivery can be very exciting – sometimes offering a futuristic peak into the way things could be. Soon we may have an app that enables near instantaneous health data analysis and distillation, and brings individualized care suggestions to a provider’s fingertips. Crunching data from hundreds of thousands of patients, finding the ones that are most like the patient in front of the provider, adding in genetic information, personal preferences and more, and in a blink of an eye, giving information for the most efficient and effective care.

In the meantime, we do things a little more manually, but the end, results are similar. [...]

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Tags: ED, Emergency Department, Fernanda Bellolio, Henrique Puls, informed consent, kern center, Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars, Kern Scholars

August 3rd, 2016

Mayo Clinic Takes Medical Research to Kilimanjaro

By Bob Nellis bobnellis

mount-kilimanjaro-tanzaniaThe core group of Mayo Clinic researchers that moved their lab to the base camp at Mount Everest to study heart disease and aging are at it again, this time in Africa. Along with a party of nearly 35, they will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, obtaining scientific data from the climbers along the way.

Led by Mayo physiologist Bruce Johnson, Ph.D. and joined by Amine Issa, Ph.D., Courtney Wheatley, Ph.D., and Jan Stepanek, M.D., among others, the group will monitor climbers’ heart rates, oxygen saturation, movement, energy expenditure, skin temperature and the quality of their sleep. They’ll also conduct ultrasound scanning to determine differences in younger and older climbers as they react to the altitude.

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Tags: Aging, altitude sickness, Amine Issa, Bruce Johnson, Kilimanjaro, physiology, research

July 26th, 2016

Mayo Clinic Research and Practice Offer New Drug Development Model

By Sara Tiner saratiner

Success is built on top ofotp past failures.

But the costs associated with bringing a drug from idea to market run into the billions, making drug companies highly risk averse. And in the academic world, timelines or project shifts can slow down discovery, limiting the innovative potential of academic research.

Regardless, patients still need medical advances now, as well as a pipeline of innovation to improve treatment in the future.

Thomas “TC” Chung, Ph.D., associate director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCaTS) Office of Translation to Practice (OTP) at Mayo Clinic, has worked in both the academic and pharmaceutical worlds. Now he and the OTP help [...]

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Tags: CCaTS, collaboration, drug discovery, Office of Translation to Practice, Thomas Chung

July 22nd, 2016

Save the Date: Arizona Health Equity Conference to Take Place Oct. 20

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

AZ Health Equality ConfJoin us October 20, in Phoenix, at the 2016 Arizona Health Equity Conference.

A statewide event in its third year, the conference will highlight health equity research, practice and policy efforts taking place in Arizona. Mayo Clinic is the lead organizer and sponsor of the conference, which enables attendees to facilitate innovative collaborations.

The theme of the conference is "Building Bridges: Connecting Communities in Research, Practice and Policy."

Attendees include physicians, nurses, researchers, clinicians, public health professionals, community health workers and social workers.

Proposals for presentations and posters can be submitted through Aug. 12. All presentations and posters must be related to health equity to be [...]

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Tags: Arizona, health disparity, health equity

July 5th, 2016

The July Phenomenon

By meghanknoedler meghanknoedler

july“Never go to the hospital in July,” a phrase often repeated by patients; and perpetuated by a myriad of hospital employees, casts a worrisome tone over care received in July. Thus we hear of the “July Phenomenon.”

This is because each July 1 is the start of the medical residency year. A day full of mixed emotions:  excitement, splendor, fear, stress, and accomplishment; it is the very environment that many clinicians thrive in. It also starts the period that some people fear can be very distracting for new doctors, and possibly even dangerous for their patients. [...]

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Tags: cornelius thiels, intern, july phenomenon, kern center, medical research, resident, surgical outcomes

June 24th, 2016

Mayo Clinic at AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

The Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery has a booth (#211) at the AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting June 25-28 in Boston.  If you happen to be there, stop by for a visit. You'll be able to learn more about all kinds of health services research going on at Mayo Clinic, although this year much of the conversation will revolve around epidemiology and population health.

We'll be sharing some information about the Rochester Epidemiology Project too, which is celebrating 50 years of continuous National Institutes of Health funding this year. Lots of potential research projects in this unique national resource, which has led to more [...]

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Tags: #ARM16, AcademyHealth, kern center, Science of health care delivery

June 16th, 2016

Rochester Epidemiology Project (REP) – 50 Years and Still Going Strong

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

REP-Magnet no gridlinesIt has been 50 years since Leonard Kurland, M.D., successfully obtained funding from the National Institutes of Health to start the regional collaboration and medical records-linkage system known as the Rochester Epidemiology Project (REP).

This unique national resource was made possible because of the collegial relations of the health care providers in Rochester, Minnesota, at the time. The initial medical records and the data sharing and data mining capabilities were established by the Mayo brothers as part of their pioneering idea of a group practice and their shared education mindset. Henry Plummer, M.D., Mabel Root, and Joseph Berkson, M.D., icons of Mayo Clinic history, led [...]

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June 15th, 2016

2016 Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars Named — The next generation of health care delivery clinical researchers

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

The Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery is pleased to welcome four new scholars to the Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars Program.


Elizabeth Lorenz, M.D. – Nephrology and Hypertension

  • Research Focus:  Health outcomes after transplant
  • Mentorship Team:  Andrea Cheville, M.D.; David Eton, Ph.D.; Kathleen Yost, Ph.D.; Brooks Edwards, M.D.; Andrew Rule, M.D.
  • Read more about Dr. Lorenz.

Oliver Tobin, M.B.,B.Ch., BAO, Ph.D. – Neurology

  • Research Focus:  Multiple sclerosis and telemedicine
  • Mentorship Team:  Andrea Cheville, M.D.; Joan Griffin, Ph.D.; Susan Hallbeck, Ph.D.; Claudia Lucchinetti, M.D.
  • Read more about Dr. Tobin.

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Tags: CSHCD, Elizabeth Lorenz, kern center, Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars, Kern Scholars, Michael Wilson, Oliver Tobin, Rahma Warsame

June 7th, 2016

Mayo Talks Research at BIO Conference

By Bob Nellis bobnellis

The Minnesota Pavilion at BIO 2016

The Minnesota Pavilion at BIO 2016

From Taiwan to Texas, anyone who has anything to do with biosciences is here in San Francisco to hear speakers, attend education sessions, but mostly to network and make contacts for business and research. Mayo Clinic is here along with Destination Medical Center in Minnesota to talk about our research activities and make a major announcement later today. Mayo's research centers are represented in the Minnesota Pavilion at the conference and by several of our scientists and leaders.

We are spreading the word about Mayo being the NIH’s pick for the national biobank . It was announced [...]

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Tags: Center for Individualized Medicine, Destination Medical Center, Individualized Medicine, mayo clinic, Mayo research

May 31st, 2016

We’ll bet on Dr. Ansell anytime

By Bob Nellis bobnellis

AnsellOn May 17, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval to nivolumab (Opdivo®) for the treatment of patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) that has relapsed or progressed after autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Nivolumab also received a breakthrough therapy designation for the treatment of relapsed or refractory cHL after failure of autologous HSCT and brentuximab vedotin. Nivolumab also has orphan drug status for the treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma under FDA's accelerated approval program.

Much of the credit for these achievements is due to the work of Stephen Ansell, M.D., Ph.D. of Mayo Clinic. Dr. Ansell led a multi-institution phase I clinical trial of nivolumab which found the immune-boosting drug [...]

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Tags: Hodgkin lymphoma, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, research, Stephen Ansell

May 3rd, 2016


By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

Determining which drug works better for which patients

"Our findings definitely point toward important age-related risk that merits consideration when doctors are making treatment recommendations," says lead author Neena S. Abraham, M.D.

To the average TV viewer, it may seem like new drugs flood the marketplace daily.However, from the 1950s until just recently, warfarin was the only available anticoagulant drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent blood clotting. One of the most common reasons people take an anticoagulant is to reduce stroke and heart attack risk related to atrial fibrillation, an irregular and often rapid heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow. [...]

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Tags: anticoagulant, atrial fibrillation, dabigatran, medical research, Neena Abraham, rivaroxaban, warfarin

April 12th, 2016

A Head Start for HPV Vaccine: Better Series Completion

By meghanknoedler meghanknoedler

HPVHPV infographic

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD), with about 14 million new cases each year.

Surprisingly, this STD is largely asymptomatic but can carry quite a punch.  HPV affects both men and women and can cause cervical cancer and other cancers of the genitals, anus, mouth, and throat, all of which can lead to severe disease, disability, infertility or death.

There are currently three different licensed vaccine options for use in girls and boys that protect against and prevent HPV, and using these vaccines routinely could potentially prevent 70% - 90% of cervical [...]

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Tags: HPV, Human Papillomavirus, Jennifer St Sauver, kern center, Lila Finney Rutten, REP, Robert Jacobson, Rochester Epidemiology Project, Science of health care delivery

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