Advancing the Science

Mayo Clinic Medical Science Blog

April 20th, 2017

Economies of scale: volume in health care

By meghanknoedler meghanknoedler

The concept is simple, if you perform the same procedure over and over; day in and day out, you tend to do it better, quicker, and safer than your counterpart who has only done it a few times, or infrequently. It’s referred to in other lines of work as “economies of scale.” The application of this concept dates back to Henry Ford and his novel use of this concept in the assembly line. However, unlike the assembly line with the ability to easily distinguish how many cars are generated, and the uniform safety of those cars and parts, health care still struggles to define these measures.

Researchers at the

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Tags: Jeff Karnes, kern center, Meghan Knoedler, outcomes, quality, Ron GO, Sean Dowdy, volume

April 18th, 2017

Attack the Gap--New Immunotherapy May Help the Body Fight Ovarian Cancer

By Nicole Brudos Ferrara nicoleferrara

It was only when Kathi Schroeder took to the bone-chilling streets of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on her bike last January that she noticed something was not right.

“I was having trouble breathing; just taking a deep breath was difficult,” she remembers.

Kathi went to her local doctor’s office and was prescribed a round of antibiotics and steroids to address what the doctor considered a respiratory issue.

“I felt better for a little while — but then by March, I just bloated up and was having increasing difficulty breathing,” she says. “It was terrible. I just thought, something is horribly wrong.”

As the symptoms progressed, Kathi’s concern grew, and on March 18, 2015, [...]

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Tags: cancer vaccine, clinical trials, Dr Matthew Block, Kathi Schroeder, ovarian cancer, TH17

April 11th, 2017

Mayo Clinic researchers use zebrafish to identify potential treatment for pediatric cancer

By Nicole Brudos Ferrara nicoleferrara

zebrafish pictureUsing a novel zebrafish model, Mayo Clinic researchers have identified a molecule called GAB2 that is highly represented in the malignant cells of many patients with neuroblastoma. Neuroblastoma is a cancer that develops from immature neural cells found in several areas of the body.

The researchers believe that overexpression of GAB2 signals the activation of a protein called SHP2 that drives and maintains neuroblastoma.

"Neuroblastoma is one of the most common solid tumors in infants," says Shizhen (Jane) Zhu, Ph.D., who led the research team. Dr. Zhu says the disease accounts for 10 to 13 percent of all childhood cancer deaths.

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Tags: childhood cancer, GAB2, Jane Zhu, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, neuroblastoma, pediatric cancer, Shizhen Zhu, SHP2, zebrafish

April 7th, 2017

The value in second opinions

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

One of the reasons patients come to Mayo Clinic is to obtain a second opinion. This can be lifesaving.

In a recent research publication, Extent of diagnostic agreement among medical referrals, a Mayo Clinic physician-scientist team showed that for a group of 286 patients referred from primary care providers to Mayo Clinic’s General Internal Medicine Division between 2009-2010, the second opinion resulted in a new or refined diagnosis 88 percent of the time.

Read the Mayo Clinic news release.

“It’s important to note that most diagnoses in the primary care setting are on target,” says James Naessens, Sc.D., a researcher in the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and [...]

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Tags: diagnostic error, James Naessens, National Academy of Medicine, Robert Lohr, second opinion, Thomas Beckman

April 4th, 2017

Exploring the link between the gut and multiple sclerosis

By susanbuckles susanbuckles

Article by Sharon Rosen

Could the bacteria in a person’s digestive system provide a clue about whether he or she may develop multiple sclerosis? This is a question that Mayo Clinic researchers asked when trying to unravel the causes of multiple sclerosis, a potentially debilitating condition that impacts a person’s nervous system. A Mayo Clinic study published in Scientific Reports demonstrates that patients with multiple sclerosis have a unique gut microbiome - the community of bacteria in the digestive system - when compared to that of healthy patients.

Dr. Nicholas Chia

“Patients with multiple sclerosis have more gastrointestinal problems such [...]

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March 30th, 2017

Understanding more--Heart failure patients and skilled nursing facilities

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

For many people diagnosed with heart failure – which almost invariably results in a hospital stay – the next stop is a skilled nursing facility. While their physician  often will reassure them that it’s just for a short time until they can get back to their home, in reality, that stay is long (averaging 144 days). And often they find themselves back in the hospital and back to a nursing facility again.

In a new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators report new understanding and new hope for heart failure patients. [...]

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Tags: Dr Veronique Roger, heart failure, kern center, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, medical research, REP, Rochester Epidemiology Project, Science of health care delivery, Sheila Manemann, skilled nursing facility

March 28th, 2017

Next generation sequencing – a game changer

By susanbuckles susanbuckles

Article by Sharon Rosen

Imagine scanning a page for errors manually one letter at a time, versus using a faster tool like spell check. That’s the difference between the first DNA sequencing methods and the new computerized machines known as next generation sequencing. It’s revolutionizing health care.

Next generation sequencing technology enables geneticists to examine all of your 22,000 genes at once. So finding a change in a gene, called a genetic variation, which causes a patient’s disease, can be done much faster and cheaper. In contrast, older sequencing methods only focus on one or a few genes at a time.

Dr. Matthew Ferber

“This new technology is constantly [...]

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March 23rd, 2017

This diet’s for you: personalized nutrition to improve your health

By susanbuckles susanbuckles

Article by Sharon Rosen

Dr. Heidi Nelson

Dr. Heidi Nelson

You may use the phrase “gut reaction” to describe what your instincts tell you about a particular situation. But it turns out that your gut offers much more than an emotional reaction – it processes food you eat in a way that is unique to you. For example, some people may feel energized and lose weight from eating a high protein and low carbohydrate diet, while others might not get the same benefit from eating the same foods. This occurs because each of us has a unique community of bacteria inside our digestive system, known as the gut microbiome. As a result, [...]

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March 21st, 2017

Building the evidence base with the Society of Behavioral Medicine

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

The Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) combines nursing, psychology, medicine and public health in an interdisciplinary forum to promote new understanding of human behavior, health and illness. At its annual meeting, March 29 – April 1, in San Diego, SBM will convene more than 2,200 behavioral and biomedical researchers and clinicians to share research, learn from each other, find ways to collaborate, and address public policy concerns.

Many different types of research will be presented by Mayo Clinic at SBM’s 38th Annual Meeting. Each finding helps to inform and influence the science of health care delivery. Collectively Mayo researchers seek to improve health and health care delivery for people everywhere.

Examples of Mayo’s work include:


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Tags: Dr Allison Holgerson, Dr Gladys Asiedu, Dr Lila Finney-Rutten, Dr Lila Rutten, Dr Shawna Ehlers, Dr Sunita Dodani, Dr Wesley Gilliam, kern center, Olivia Peavler, population health, SBM2017, Society of Behavioral Medicine

March 20th, 2017

Nathan LeBrasseur, Ph.D., receives Director’s Award

By Megan Forliti mforliti

The Mayo Clinic Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging is pleased to announce that Nathan LeBrasseur, Ph.D., has received the 2016 Director’s Award for his work as a researcher and program director of the Healthy Aging and Independent Living (HAIL) program.

The Director’s Award is presented to investigators who show achievement in the following areas:

  • Contribution to aging research and advocacy
  • Landmark papers and achievements on aging
  • Citizenship and education

Dr. LeBrasseur oversees multidisciplinary efforts to extend health span and promote autonomy in older adults. The HAIL program is designed to translate discoveries in the biology of aging from the laboratory bench to the [...]

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Tags: Aging, awards, Director's Award, Dr Nathan LeBrasseur, Kogod Center on Aging

March 16th, 2017

Using genetic testing to transform care for neurological disorders

By susanbuckles susanbuckles

Article by Sharon Rosen


Our nervous system is made up of complex biological pathways that control everything we do, including breathing, thinking, speaking, moving and feeling. For patients suffering from a neurological disorder such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, nerve pain (neuropathy) and dementia, the symptoms of these conditions can impact many aspects of daily life. Some patients with unexplained neurological symptoms search for years for a diagnosis and treatment.

Scientists and physicians have suspected that many neurological conditions had underlying genetic causes. The question has been how to verify that. Advances in DNA testing technology provide new, more accurate ways to pinpoint genetic variations that lead to neurological disease. Armed with [...]

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March 14th, 2017

Exploration of six alternatives nets policy that cuts surgical delay and overtime

By Adam Harringa harringaadam

Study finds one strategy decreases overtime by 52 percent with same access for patients

A few years back, the Mayo Clinic Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery approached Mayo scientists with a problem: a backlog of patients waiting for surgery. They wanted the scientists, in the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, to help them solve the problem.

The center provides research expertise through collaborations such as this to help Mayo's continuous efforts to transform the practice for the welfare of its patients and staff.

The researchers created and simulated six policies that could reduce overtime and improve patient access to [...]

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Tags: doctor burnout, health care delivery, health care systems engineering, kern center, Mayo Clinic research, medical research, patient access

March 9th, 2017

Researchers study benefits of stretching 'microbreaks' for surgeons

By Adam Harringa harringaadam

Many surgeons spend prolonged periods in awkward positions, which increases safety concerns for patients, and can lead to long term medical ailments and burnout for doctors. So Mayo Clinic researchers have a team of surgeons performing "microbreaks" of 90 seconds or two minutes of stretching every 20 to 40 minutes. The result for many surgeons was pain reduction, especially in the shoulders and neck, and 87 percent of those surveyed said they were interested in adding microbreaks to their routine, according to a study published in February in the Annals of Surgery.

Find out more about the study in Medscape, and look for more on this subject as Mayo researchers test a web-based app [...]

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Tags: doctor burnout, health care delivery, Mayo Clinic research, medical research, population health, surgical outcomes

March 7th, 2017

Choosing Wisely—At odds with Diagnostic Accuracy?

By meghanknoedler meghanknoedler

Primary Sjögren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disease where your body attacks its self.  This happens because some of the white blood cells and several proteins made by these and other cells attack on normal functioning salivary glands (i.e. those in your mouth—leading to cavities, ulcers, and tooth degradation) and tear glands (i.e. your eyes).  However, the assault does not stop at just the glands; it wreaks havoc on your entire body, making you feel tired and run down. If you have Sjögren’s syndrome you also likely have painful, swollen joints that make it hard to enjoy even everyday activities. Sjögren’s can also affect the heart, lungs, brain and kidneys as well.

The diagnosis of primary [...]

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Tags: autoimmune, Choosing Wisely, Choosing Wisely Campaign, Diagnostic Accuracy, Eric Matteson, Meghan Knoedler, Rheumatology, Rochester Epidemiology Project, Sjögren’s syndrome

March 2nd, 2017

Peritonsillar abscess management on the Emergency Department: conservative or surgical approach?

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

Author: Dante LS Souza

What is Peritonsillar Abscess?

Peritonsillar abscess (PTA) is a collection of pus between the capsule of the palatine tonsil and the pharyngeal muscles. It is the most common deep neck space infection, both in children (49%) and adults (30%), representing  the most frequent indication for non-elective otolaryngological hospital admissions.

According to the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality, the estimated annual incidence in 2013 was 19.07 per 100,000, accounting for approximately 60,000 visits to the emergency department (ED) from which 22% were admitted to the hospital.

How has it been managed?

Despite being relatively common and having the potential for severe morbidity and rare mortality, there is a wide practice variation among physicians and geographical [...]

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Tags: emergency medicine, peritonsillar abscess

February 28th, 2017

More women eligible for Herceptin, benefit uncertain

By Nicole Brudos Ferrara nicoleferrara

Updated guidelines underscore need to identify the most optimal candidates for HER2-directed therapy.

Changes to HER2 testing guidelines for breast cancer in 2013 significantly increased the number of patients who test positive for HER2 breast cancer, Mayo Clinic researchers have found.

The researchers published their HER2 breast cancer study results online July 25, 2016, in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Cancers that have an excess of HER2 protein or extra copies of the HER2 gene are called HER2 positive and can be treated with drugs such as Herceptin that target the HER2 protein. HER2-positive cancers tend to be more aggressive and spread more quickly than do other breast cancers.

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Tags: Breast Cancer, cancer research, Dr Robert Jenkins, Forefront, HER2, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

February 23rd, 2017

Advancing genomics into patient care: a preview of Individualizing Medicine 2017

By Elizabeth Zimmermann Young elizabethzimmermann

One of the highlights of the year for those of us at the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine is the yearly Individualizing Medicine Conference. It’s a very exciting time for us as we share with you the latest discoveries in personalized patient care. This year’s conference already has a great line up of thought-provoking keynote speakers and innovative breakout sessions that offer ways to apply the latest advancement to the medical practice.

Experts in precision medicine from around the world will share how rapid advances in genomic technology and research are providing new insights into health and disease. How are these discoveries being turned into new [...]

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Tags: Center for Individualized Medicine, genomics, Individualized Medicine, Individualizing Medicine Conference, personalized medicine

February 21st, 2017

New ray of light for those who struggle with weight loss: low-level laser therapy

By meghanknoedler meghanknoedler

The struggle to lose weight is complex and full of challenges. For those who have struggled with their weight, finding hope and solutions can be difficult despite understanding the detrimental health consequences.

There is no question that losing weight is challenging.  As a result, procedures exist that aim to remove fat cells from the body.  A well-known procedure is liposuction, a surgical procedure which requires general anesthesia. In liposuction, fat cells are suctioned out through strategically-placed incisions. It carries with it a number of risks and side effects that range from cosmetic to life threatening. An emerging alternative to liposuction is Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved low-level laser therapy (LLLT); LLLT is more focused [...]

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Tags: behavioral intervention, ivana croghan, LLLT, low-level laser therapy, obesity, weight loss

February 16th, 2017

Yale and Mayo Clinic collaborate to further regulatory science

By Adam Harringa harringaadam

Author Kevin Lin, Yale Daily News staff

Funded by a United States Food and Drug Administration grant of up to $6.7 million over two years, Yale and Mayo Clinic are establishing a Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation to advance regulatory science by developing tools to measure the safety and efficacy of FDA-regulated products.

According to a press release, the Yale and Mayo Clinic CERSI aims to use real-world data to inform regulatory decision making; allow the FDA to use advanced analytic methods; and share knowledge gathered between the institutions. The Yale and Mayo Clinic CERSI is part of a larger group of national CERSIs, funded by the FDA, that are collaborations between the FDA and various [...]

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Tags: cersi, health care delivery, regulatory science, yale

February 16th, 2017

Drug combo safe for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

By Nicole Brudos Ferrara nicoleferrara


Drugs targeting the P13K-mTOR pathway add benefit when combined with standard R-CHOP therapy.


The drug everolimus can be safely combined with R-CHOP for new, untreated diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, according to the results of a pilot study by Mayo Clinic researchers.

The researchers published their study findings in the July 2016 issue of The Lancet Haematology.

R-CHOP is a combination of drugs used to treat lymphoma that includes rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone.

Photograph of Patrick B. Johnston, M.D., Ph.D. Patrick B. Johnston, M.D., [...]

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Tags: diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, Dr Patrick Johnston, everolimus, Forefront, lymphoma, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, R-CHOP

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