Advancing the Science

Mayo Clinic Medical Science Blog – an eclectic collection of research- and research education-related stories: feature stories, mini news bites, learning opportunities, profiles and more from Mayo Clinic.

January 7, 2019

One more gift for you in the new year

By Elizabeth Zimmermann

Were you good last year?

If so (or even if not - we don't judge) you might enjoy these little gifts of new knowledge, ideas, technology, and more from Mayo Clinic Research.

Read on to learn about some of our newest research programs. Explore some of our shiniest websites (so new the dust hasn't had a chance to settle). Take a moment to look around, and while you're at it, register for Advancing the Science so we can share weekly research news bites (a bit like a holiday treat, but calorie free and available all year).

  • Announcing the FIRST EVER, and ONLY cancer SPORE focusing on the liver and bile system in the entire world (as of today) at Mayo Clinic.

Funded by the National Cancer Institute, Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs), are designed to enable the rapid and efficient movement of basic scientific findings into clinical settings. SPOREs also support research to determine the biological basis for observations made in individuals with cancer or in populations at risk for cancer.

Research advances in Mayo Clinic's Hepatobiliary SPORE (hepatobiliary is the medical term for liver and bile system-related) can change the trajectory of liver cancer and bile duct cancer, offering optimism for both adults and children facing a sometimes grim prognosis.

Read about our Hepatobiliary SPORE and the six other SPOREs (we have a lot of great cancer research going on) on the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center website.


Led by Kenton Kaufman, Ph.D., the Motion Analysis Laboratory at Mayo Clinic offers state-of-the-art treatment planning for patients with movement difficulties, aids in documenting results of therapeutic procedures, and conducts research on future clinical applications of human movement analysis.

The team's focus areas include: fall prevention, assistive robot protheses, amputation, prosthetic fit, opioid use, hip arthroplasty, low back pain, scoliosis, brachial plexus injury and more.

Basically if it's connected to the shin bone, it's connected to the leg bone, which is connected to the hip bone, and so forth; and therefore the subject of the Motion Analysis Lab. We could make up a song about it, but that's already been done. What hasn't been done is the research that Dr. Kaufman's team is working on every day, and which you can find out more about by visiting their website.


This center is not quite brand new, but it still has that new car smell.  Although Mayo has always been involved in early-stage, pre-clinical research, the Mayo Clinic Center for Biomedical Discovery brings these effort under one roof (so to speak, a virtual roof at least).  In this center, researchers investigate the origin of disease and how cellular mistakes lead to illness.

The center's newest members are recipients of its inaugural career development awards. These three-year awards help build the discovery faculty of the future by supporting the efforts of exceptional young scientists performing hypothesis-driven research studying biochemical, molecular or cellular mechanisms of disease. Meet them here, then click on their names to find out a bit more about them.

Verline Justilien, Ph.D. Verline Justilien, Ph.D.

Focus: Alterations in gene expression (epigenetics) and their associated molecular effects occurring in the cells that become lung tumors and drive tumor progression, maintenance, spread and resistance to chemotherapy

Ian R. Lanza, Ph.D. Ian Lanza, Ph.D.

Focus: Molecular and cellular basis of beneficial adaptations to exercise; the influence of chronic inflammation on skeletal muscle in the context of aging, obesity, and cancer; and metabolomics as a tool for solving undiagnosed diseases

Jian Yuan, Ph.D. Jian Yuan, Ph.D.

Focus: Response to chemotherapy in ovarian cancer and the DNA damage-response mechanisms


In order to come up with efficient and better treatments in the future, researchers start in the lab. But not just one lab! Specialized labs of experts act as a resource for researchers who sometimes need to “phone a friend” to keep their work moving in the right direction. These facilities are the core of the research effort at Mayo, and focus in areas such as:

Recently updated sites in the Mayo Clinic Research Cores include:

This core serves up an ala carte menu of custom hybridoma monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies can be used for research and development of clinical diagnostic assays and therapeutics.

In this core, the team provides cytogenetic (having to do with chromosomes) and molecular cytogenetic analysis of human and animal model research samples.

Additional specialized services offered by the core include cell culture, routine cytogenetic analysis, interphase and metaphase DNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), and custom FISH probe production.

This core provides services to researchers in Arizona, both from Mayo Clinic and other institutions. In this core, the team analyzes cellular composition and other characteristics.

In this core, the team provides immunochemical, chemistry and immune testing to clinical and basic science researchers.

Although they have nothing to do with lentils, hairpins or a boxing, lentiviral short hairpin ribonucleic acid knockdown vectors do have a powerful role in the way our body functions. They can shut down specific genes. This allows researchers to figure out what happens or doesn’t happen because of a gene or gene mutation. This work can lead to potential cures or even prevention of disease.

The lentiviral short hairpin ribonucleic acid (shRNA) knockdown vectors have emerged as the industry standard for both transient and stable knockdown of individual genes. This core maintains an extensive library as well as access to lentiviral and other shRNA vectors in another industry library.

You know all those surveys you get asked to take: in the mail, at the mall, on the phone, via email? They may sometimes seem as if they are asking the wrong questions, too many questions, or not gathering enough information to make a difference.

The Survey Research Core makes sure that Mayo Clinic's surveys are designed to be both valid and reliable. The team provides survey services to support researchers in gathering data about opinions, attitudes and outcomes from patients, health care providers and other populations. They also conduct research  into nonresponse, measurement error and similar topics.

The Transgenic and Knockout Core  generates transgenic and gene-targeted mice for researchers across Mayo Clinic. Mouse models are important tools for studying the underlying causes of many diseases, including cancer. Transgenic and gene-targeted mice generated by the core enable researchers to observe how genes, or mutant variations of genes, are expressed.

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Tags: About, basic science, biomedical research, cancer, Center for Biomedical Discovery, E. Aubrey Thompson, Ian Lanza, Jan van Deursen, Jian Yuan, Kathleen Yost, Kay Medina, Kenton Kaufman, liver cancer, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Motion Analysis Lab, orthopedics, Patricia Greipp, Progress Updates, prosthesis, Ravinder Singh, robotic, SPORE, Verline Justilien, Vijay Singh

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