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.

April 24, 2020

Mayo Clinic, the military, and a different kind of war

By Elizabeth Zimmermann
screenshot from Serving with Honor: Mayo Clinic and the Military - photo collage of military activities, events

Over the years, Mayo Clinic has stepped forward to meet emerging challenges in health care. Sometimes in war between nations, and sometimes in a different kind of war -- the struggle to understand, treat, reduce the impact of, and perhaps someday to eradicate devastating diseases.

Med City Beat, a news outlet local to Rochester, Minnesota, recently published an article making the same parallel: Mayo Clinic scientists find themselves at the front lines in the global fight against COVID-19.

In the early 1940s, with the world at war, Mayo Clinic made the decision to defer most of its ongoing research activities to instead focus on the war effort. ... Today, Mayo finds itself in a similar position, with a nation looking to the Rochester-based institution for life-saving answers and innovations.

Read the story online at Med City Beat.

In the U.S., our war on COVID-19 started taking shape much like the war on influenza (also called the Spanish Flu) in 1918. Mayo Clinic's experiences more than 100 years ago during that pandemic set the foundation for the leadership role it is able to take today.

Mayo Clinic responded to the crisis on multiple fronts. Laboratory personnel investigated the strain of influenza with efforts that underscored the importance of clinical trials and other protocols that are now the foundation of medical research. Educational outreach engaged patients, staff and the public about how to limit the spread of influenza.

Read ‘Wear a Mask and Be Safe’ — Mayo Clinic and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic on

Mayo's role in 'winning wars' extended beyond research, education and doctoring the general public during this earlier pandemic.

As an outgrowth of Mayo Clinic's long commitment to America's armed forces, during World War I, together with the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic established a hospital on the Western Front. Its personnel and facilities were stretched beyond capacity when influenza came to the troops.

You can learn more about this in the Sharing Mayo Clinic story mentioned previously. And for those who want to dig in deeper, Serving with Honor: Mayo Clinic and the Military, a 28 minute film, tells more about Mayo Clinic's close connection to the military.

From the Civil War to the present, on battlefields and the Home Front, Mayo Clinic has supported the men and women of America’s armed forces.

Watch this and other Mayo Clinic history films online.

Research has always been part of this relationship. Even moreso, research plays a leading role in solving problems in health care and meeting the needs of our patients, and people everywhere.

This is evidenced today by the regional, national and international leadership role Mayo Clinic physicians and scientists have taken in the latest health care war against SARS-CoV-2 and the deadly effects of COVID-19.

In this podcast, you can learn more about Mayo Clinic's emerging research.

Mayo Clinic's COVID-19 research task force is studying the virus, predicting hot spots, and working towards effective treatments and a vaccine.

Listen to the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, with Andrew Badley, M.D., chair of Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 research task force.


Tags: About, Andrew Badley, COVID-19, lab medicine, military medicine, News

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