Advancing The Science

Mayo Clinic Medical Science Blog

Archive for September, 2012

Advancing the Science home for upcoming Individualizing Medicine Conference

Posted on September 28th, 2012 by Admin

This is your home base for insights into what will be happening at next week's Individualizing Medicine conference at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. From October 1st through the 3rd, experts in genomics will be explaining how the new science is now and  will be impacting medical practices all over the country. Over 500 physicians, health care providers, researchers, and media will be attending the presentations and panel discussions. They are coming from 22 states and several foreign countries. I'll be blogging from the presentations and from the one public event -- a media panel and discussion to be held Tuesday evening at 7pm central time. That event will be streamed live here on Advancing the Science. Hosted by NPR's Ira Flatow, the session "Great Expectations: Making Informed Decisions in Individualized Medicine" will focus on the perceptions and realities of genomics in patient care. Viewers may submit questions during the event to  Panelists include:

If you are a journalist, be sure to sign in at the Mayo Clinic News Network to follow the full proceedings of the conference.

Five Reasons to Sign Up for Mayo Clinic Cancer Center's New Email Newsletter

Posted on September 27th, 2012 by Admin

Forefront is the complimentary magazine of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, a leader in translational cancer research and the effort to discover better ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer for patients around the globe. Published in print and online annually, Forefront highlights Mayo Clinic's cutting-edge cancer research and the latest Mayo Clinic Cancer Center news.

In June 2012, Forefront launched a quarterly email edition. The latest issue is now available online. Here's what you'll get if you subscribe:

  1. A personal message from Robert B. Diasio, M.D., Mayo Clinic Cancer Center director.
  2. Updates about research conducted by Cancer Center scientists and physicians.
  3. A regular column featuring Cancer Center statistics.
  4. Stories about patients whose lives were impacted by Cancer Center research.
  5. Administrative updates on the Cancer Center’s efforts to ensure that the needs of the patient come first.

Subscribe to the email edition of Forefront today!


Michael Camilleri, M.D., honored with the 2012 Ismar Boas medal

Posted on September 21st, 2012 by Admin

Michael Camilleri, M.D.

The German Society of Digestive and Metabolic Disease awarded Dr. Camilleri with the 2012 Ismar Boas medal in honor of his scientific contributions to the understanding of the integrated regulation of the gastrointestinal tract. In particular, his pioneering work on the causes of motor and functional disorders.  Dr. Camilleri's research into the complex interaction of genetic, mucosal, enteroendocrine, immunological and neuronal mechanisms helped to develop important modern concepts about changes in body function, and therefore forms the basis of modern, causal therapies.

Two other Mayo Clinic physicians have been awarded with the Ismar Boas Medal. Eugene DiMagno, M.D., received the medal in 1994 and Sidney Phillips, M.D., was honored in 2005.

Ismar Boas practiced in Germany prior to World War II and is considered the father of gastroenterology. He studied and published on the stomach, small intestines, and constipation. He started a medical journal dedicated to gastroenterology and metabolic medicine. The journal survives today under the name Digestion.

Thannhauser Medal

Eugene DiMagno, M.D.

Also at this year's meeting of the German Society of Digestive and Metabolic Disease, Emeritus Physician Eugene DiMagno was recognized with the Thannhauser Medal. The medal was given in recognition of his pioneering scientific achievements in the study of regulation of human pancreatic function. Dr. DiMagno's seminal work on deciphering the mechanisms of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency has contributed greatly to the understanding of chronic pancreatic diseases, which is the basis of modern therapeutic strategies.

Florida Researcher Takes on Kidney Cancer

Posted on September 20th, 2012 by samsmith

One Man’s War
Dr. Richard Joseph’s fight to beat aggressive kidney cancers                    

Richard Joseph, M.D., a Mayo Clinic oncologist and Florida-based researcher, is waging a personal war on kidney cancer. And he is fighting on multiple fronts – trying to conquer the disease with two of the most promising new weapons in the anti-cancer arsenal.


In one suite of studies, Dr. Joseph is searching for just a few genetic variants in the genomes of clear cell kidney cancers from among the millions of changes that make a person unique. Armed with this information, Dr. Joseph believes he can begin tailoring treatment to individual patients and their tumors, rather than lumping all clear cell renal cell carcinoma patients together. This type of tailored or personalized medicine is at the core of what Mayo Clinic is working to achieve through scores of studies active within its Center for Individualized Medicine. 

“Certain drugs might work for a small minority, but there is no way of knowing who will clearly benefit. It is necessary to identify patients who are going to be helped by the drugs they are given,” says Dr. Joseph. “Angiogenesis and immune evasion are known pathways that contribute to the metastatic process in kidney cancer and inhibition of angiogenesis and reversing immune evasion benefit a subset of patients with kidney cancer. Unfortunately, we do not have molecular markers that will predict benefit from a specific therapy.”


In a second set of medical investigations, Dr. Joseph is trying to train the body’s own immune system to seek out and eliminate clear cell renal cell carcinomas in much the same way the body fights off a seasonal flu. This field of research is known as cancer immunology. Already, research in this area has led to several new chemotherapies that gravitate toward tumors based on chemical flags called antigens. It’s the same chemical process that helps the body identify viruses and bacterial infections while ignoring the surrounding healthy human cells. Many such studies are under way in Mayo’s Department of Molecular Medicine.

To accomplish these studies, Dr. Joseph recently received two grants totaling more than $400,000 – one from the American Association for Cancer Research via its 2012 Judah Folkman Career Development Award for Antiangiogenesis Research, the second from the Gerstner Family Career Development Award, issued by Mayo’s Center for Individualized Medicine.


At the advent of his career 

Dr. Joseph is an oncologist and translational researcher, who has one foot in the lab bench and another grounded at the patient’s bedside.


As a fellow at M.D. Anderson, Dr. Joseph focused on immune therapies and the most immunogenic tumors, melanoma and kidney cancer. As a junior faculty member at Mayo Clinic Florida, he is now focusing his research on kidney cancer in large part because of his mentor, Alexander Parker, Ph.D., a nationally known expert in kidney cancer research and associate director of the Center for Individualized Medicine. 

Dr. Parker has created a renal registry in Mayo’s Biospecimens and Accessioning Processing Lab that allows researchers to analyze well-preserved tissues and compare results with clinical data from the patient’s medical record. He is leveraging this renal registry because he believes the tools of individualized medicine will usher in a new generation of therapies for kidney cancer.


A key step in providing individualized therapies to kidney cancer patients is to systematically evaluate the genetic pathways that give rise to clear cell renal cell carcinomas. After identification of alternate pathways, the researchers want to test whether blocking these pathways – one at a time – can help stop tumor growth. 

Stopping tumors in their tracks

Already, Dr. Joseph’s preliminary work has identified two potential subtypes of clear cell renal cell carcinoma – angiogenic and immune evasive. Through the American Association for Cancer Research grant, Dr. Joseph will utilize Mayo’s expertise in validating these subtypes in a larger group of patient samples.


The work associated with his Gerstner Grant includes targeting, evaluating and inhibiting this pathway in kidney cancer, finding the markers that are associated with a response. The research builds on his team’s observation that the insulin-like growth factor pathway is activated in about half of all patients with clear cell renal cell carcinoma. Activation of this pathway is also marked with a remarkably poor prognosis. 

Dr. Joseph wants to hone in on this insulin pathway in kidney cancers and use this knowledge to launch the first individualized trial in clear cell renal cell carcinoma. The team will be sequencing multiple tumors, and Mayo’s Biospecimen lab will help with extraction of RNA before sequencing.


“I believe that improving care for patients with kidney cancer is going to be incremental, and one of the necessary steps is to identify and target specific attributes and pathways within the individual patient,” says Dr. Joseph. “We don’t want to treat everybody the same.”

Mayo Clinic Veterinarian Receives ACLAM Diplomate Certification

Posted on September 10th, 2012 by Admin

It’s no small task ensuring that the animals used in medical research on Mayo’s Florida campus are healthy and properly cared for. C. Douglas Page, DVM, PA, the attending veterinarian at Mayo Clinic’s Department of Comparative Medicine in Florida, the supervisor and the staff of animal care technicians, take this responsibility very seriously. He recently took that responsibility to a higher level in working toward and receiving the Diplomate certification from the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine. This is a high honor achieved by passing a rigorous eight-hour exam that certifies that Dr. Page has earned the right to be considered a specialist in the field of laboratory animal medicine.

Dr. Page has been a licensed veterinarian for more than 30 years and has worked with everything from exotic zoo animals to a more recent focus on laboratory animal medicine here at Mayo Clinic. He said it’s rewarding caring for animals that will ultimately help researchers uncover new and better therapies for our patients.

“I have two important responsibilities here,” says Dr. Page. “First, my job is to oversee the health and welfare of all of our animals to ensure our researchers have healthy subjects to work with. I also am responsible for making sure our animals are humanely treated and that we are in compliance with stringent state and federal government guidelines.  It’s critical that we maintain a healthy and humanely run animal lab environment.”

“As an independent veterinary practitioner, Dr. Page has provided veterinary care for the research animals at Mayo in Florida for over 20 years,” says Craig Frisk, D.V.M, Ph.D., chair of comparative medicine at Mayo and a Diplomate himself.  “During this time, he’s developed a close working relationship with the veterinary staff at Mayo and recently decided to change his career path to the laboratory animal medicine specialty.  Becoming a Diplomate in the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine was his ultimate goal in pursuit of this endeavor.”

Dr. Page, who received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Louisiana State University, says this academic advancement was a challenge.

“It took a lot of hard work preparing for this exam with the support of my colleagues and family,” he said. “I’m proud that I was able to earn this certification and exhibit this level of expertise in my field. It is truly an honor to be recognized by my peers for this effort.”

Kinecting with Annerieke: Video Blog Part 2

Posted on September 10th, 2012 by Admin

Annerieke Heuvelink, Ph.D. is a researcher with the Dutch institution TNO, who is spending a year at Mayo Clinic working in the HAIL Laboratory, a partnership between Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation, Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging and Charter House.

In this installment of Kinecting with Annerieke, Annerieke shares more information about the background and goals of her exer-gaming study, a status update on her project, and another unique insight from her time as a Dutch researcher in America.