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.

September 25, 2020

Mayo Clinic Research in the news — 9/25/2020

By Elizabeth Zimmermann
graphic art newspaper laptop

COVID-19 still is holding a spot in the headlines, and probably will for at least the next year or so. But more and more there is re-emerging interest in other health care research. In this post, you'll find Mayo Clinic Research and research experts cited on Alzheimer's, opioids, artificial intelligence and physician burnout, seafood and other findings about what we eat. And of course the race for a COVID-19 vaccine and other related topics.

Women With Prior SCAD Not Always at Risk of Recurrence in Pregnancy (tctMD, 9/25/2020)

Most women heed the advice to avoid pregnancy post-SCAD, but for others, this knowledge can aid in decision-making.

Female patients who have a history of spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) do not necessarily face recurrent SCAD if they become pregnant, despite pregnancy being a known trigger of these rare but severe complications. The data, derived from a Mayo Clinic registry, were published online this week in JAMA Cardiology.

Marysia S. Tweet, MD (Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, MN), described to TCTMD what drove her to pursue this research: women who face difficult choices. …

Mayo Clinic Health System president to retire (, 9/24/2020)

Dr. Bobbie Gostout, president of Mayo Clinic Health System, will retire at the end of the year after 24 years of service in clinical practice, research, and education, as well as administration.

NOTE: read more about Dr. Gostout's accomplishments online.

As D.C. Council considers more scooter laws, is it time to require helmets? (JD Supra, 9/24/2020)

Officials in the nation’s capital are working quietly to improve the regulation of e-scooters, aiming to ensure the trendy devices are available across the District of Columbia and don’t pose hazards to pedestrians, especially those with disabilities.

But is it also time for politicians to grapple with a rising safety issue: Is it time to require their riders to wear a helmet?

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic and the Emory School of Medicine recently published their findings about scooters, based on scrutiny of the latest data that is coming from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. …

These Secret Safety Panels Will Pick the COVID Vaccine Winners (Kaiser Health News, 9/24/2020)

Most Americans have never heard of Dr. Richard Whitley, an expert in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Yet as the coronavirus pandemic drags on and the public eagerly awaits a vaccine, he may well be among the most powerful people in the country. …

 “There is an irresolvable tension between speed and safety,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, the head of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group. “Efficacy is pretty easy to figure out. It’s safety that’s the issue.”

Opioid use among cancer survivors: Striking a balance (HemOnc Today, 9/24/2020)

Opioids are a potent pharmacologic option for managing recurrent pain experienced by cancer survivors.

Due to the persistence and severity of cancer-associated pain, clinicians historically have not prioritized limiting prescriptions for these patients. However, concerns about inappropriate opioid use and addiction have led to increased caution in this regard.

Although physicians agree such caution is appropriate, some believe it is important that the pendulum not swing too far in that direction.

“There has been a paradigm shift in the thought process of clinicians, from never undertreating patients with cancer to restricting opioids, and I am afraid we may end up undertreating some patients who genuinely require opioids,” Shahrukh K. Hashmi, MD, MPHhematologist and public health specialist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and chair of the department of hematology/oncology at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, said in an interview with Healio. “There are reasons behind the rationales on both extremes. However, as an oncology medical community, we have fallen in the trap of availability heuristics by extrapolating the current national opioid crisis into a cancer opioid crisis.”

NOTE: The original article misspelled Dr. Hashmi's first name, it is corrected here and linked to his research faculty profile. You can read the rest of the article online.

Mayo Clinic: AI and ML are 'complementary' to clinicians' skills, not a replacement  (Healthcare IT News, 9/21/2020)

In a HIMSS Learning Center presentation, Mayo Clinic oncologists Dr. Tufia Haddad and Dr. Nadia Laack will share their perspectives about the potential for AI to accelerate clinical research and improve care.

"Views from the Top: An AI boost for clinical research and care" is scheduled for Thursday, October 8, at 1 p.m. CT on the HIMSS Learning Center.

NOTE: You can read the overview article and register for the presentation online.

Mayo doctor says leveling COVID racial disparities requires building trust (KARE 11 TV, 9/22/2020)

Lasting relationships between healthcare systems and minority communities can start to undo years of justifiable mistrust, says researcher Dr. Mark Wieland.

NOTE: You can read the article and watch the news video online.

Mayo Clinic Director Warns Of ‘Twindemic’ This Fall Season (WJCT radio, 9/19/2020)

“Here in the U.S. this fall, the question will be, because of the almost exact overlap of symptomatology - Do they have COVID, or do they have one of the four strains of influenza?” said Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s vaccine research group. 

If this is a big part of your diet, you could take years off your life (Ladders, 9/21/2020)

Research conducted by a team at the University of California, Davis warns consumers with sweet teeth should be wary of this particular ingredient when picking up your next soothing snack.

… Researchers at the Mayo Clinic warn us of the possible side effects of too many triglycerides in your system next by elaborating 

“High triglycerides may contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls (arteriosclerosis) — which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease. Extremely high triglycerides can also cause acute inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).

High triglycerides are often a sign of other conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes too much fat around the waist, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels.”

Tests for tribes -- one way Mayo makes amends with Native Americans (, 9/23/2020)

At the start of the pandemic, Native American leaders asked Mayo’s top medical and administrative officials for help with distributing tests and processing results across the state’s 11 reservation lands.

… Bolton assigned [Valerie] Guimaraes and Dr. Wes Peterson to work at the heart of coordinating Mayo’s response to the tribes’ COVID testing request. Peterson is a researcher who coordinates Mayo’s Native American Research Outreach program, as well as its Native American Interest Group that hosts a monthly cultural exchange.

 NOTE: You can read this article online, as well as find out more about the parent project, "Indigenous Impacts: How Native American communities are responding to COVID-19." 

A Little Debate on Plasma Is Healthy for Science (WSJ, 9/22/2020)

The FDA says it’s likely effective, while NIH urges caution. The answer: Get more data from trials.

NOTE: This article is available to WSJ subscribers, and references Mayo Clinic's convalescent plasma work.

Big Data Analytics Show COVID-19 Spread, Outcomes by Region (Health IT Analytics, 9/21/2020)

Organizations are using big data analytics to track COVID-19 spread and monitor patient outcomes in different regions across the US.

… A team from Mayo Clinic recently introduced a tracking tool that features the latest COVID-19 data for every county in all 50 states and Washington, DC.

The tool, the US Coronavirus Map: What Do the Trends Mean for You?, is an interactive map included in Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 online resource center. The map represents key data and trends in an easy-to-use format, and displays figures like the total number of cases in each county and state, new cases per day, positive test rate and fatality rate, presented with trends over time.

Covid-19 less deadly as medical treatments advance (Arkansas Democrat Gazette, via Bloomberg News, 9/20/2020)

… Doctors and experts say that improved medical tactics and earlier treatment are helping improve the outcomes for very sick patients, said Andrew Badley, head of Mayo Clinic's Covid Research Task Force.

"Health care preparedness today is much better than it was in February and March," Badley said in an interview. "We have better and more rapid access to diagnosis. We have more knowledge about what drugs to use and what drugs not to use. We have more experimental treatments available. All of those contribute to possible improvements in the mortality rate."

1 Woman in 5 With Migraine Avoiding Pregnancy: Study (U.S. News & World Report/HealthDay, 9/21/2020)

… The study also found that those who avoided pregnancy were more likely to have a history of depression, more migraines a month, and higher migraine-related disability over the three previous months, according to findings published Sept. 15 in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Even though many women with migraines don't get pregnant due to concerns about their health and the well-being of their child, research shows that migraine improves in up to 75% of women during pregnancy.

"A large number of women with migraine might avoid pregnancy due to migraine. So they can make informed decisions, it is important that women with migraine have access to reliable information about the relationship between migraine and pregnancy," said lead author Dr. Ryotaro Ishii, a visiting scientist at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.

Vegetarians & Meat Eaters Alike Can Benefit From Heart-Healthy Omega-3s (Mind Body Green, 9/19/2020)

Omega-3 fatty acids are, no doubt, a superstar in the health world. And for good reason—by supporting the endocannabinoid system, they help manage stress, the high fat content supports brain health, and researchers have long considered them heart-healthy foods. A recent review, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, says omega-3 fatty acids can both protect against cardiovascular disease risks and reduce the rates of death in people with preexisting heart disease. While these healthy fats are commonly found in fish, there are plenty of ways for vegetarians to get adequate levels of the nutrient. 

The research reviewed 40 clinical trials related to the heart-health benefits of two types of omega-3s: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). They found a combination of the two reduced fatal myocardial infarction by 35%, myocardial infarction without death by 13%, congenital heart disease (CHD) by 10%, and CHD mortality by 9%.

Johnson & Johnson begins Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial in U.S. (NBC News, 9/23/2020)

The drugmaker's vaccine candidate is the fourth to enter final-phase human trials in the country.

… The larger study is "notable and commendable," said Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert who directs the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota. He said a single dose of vaccine in a pandemic provides an opportunity to fully vaccinate more people more quickly.

The Timeline of a Covid-19 Vaccine (Bloomberg TV, 9/20/2020)

NOTE: This video includes an interview of Gregory Poland, M.D., director, Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group.

Pemigatinib Trial Seeks to Build on Targeted Advances in Cholangiocarcinoma (OncLive, 9/22/2020)

An explosion of research in the field led to the approval of pemigatinib in April 2020 for patients with unresectable, previously treated advanced or metastatic cholangiocarcinoma [bile duct cancer] with FGFR2 fusion or rearrangement.

NOTE: This article includes expert commentary from Tanios Bekaii-Saab, M.D., a gastrointestinal cancer expert in Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.

'It does affect more than your lungs': Why COVID-19 survivors may need to get screened for heart damage (Arizona Republic, 9/21/2020)

… Having assessed seriously ill COVID-19 inpatients since March, Mayo Clinic in Arizona cardiologist Dr. Dawn Pedrotty said she has seen evidence linking the disease with cardiac damage.

What's not clear is what that damage will mean for patients in the long term, but researchers and physicians are closely following the link, she said.

"There is a connection to heart disease. It's not just a respiratory disease," Pedrotty said. "It's an important public health message that it does affect more than your lungs."

Physician burnout: Running on an empty tank (Medical News Today, 9/22/2020)

… Dr. Lotte N. Dyrbye, associate chair of staff satisfaction, faculty development, and diversity in the Department of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, told Medical News Today, “between 2011 and 2014, the prevalence of burnout increased in U.S. physicians, even though work hours did not.”

She went on to say, however, “During this period, the prevalence of burnout among other U.S. workers did not increase. The drivers of burnout for physicians are factors within the practice environment.”

Why you need to eat more fatty seafood, like salmon (SeaWest News, 9/21/2020)

Eating seafood, particularly fatty fish such as salmon, anchovies and sardines, is the optimal way to get omega-3s that will protect your heart

A study of studies has provided compelling evidence that eating Omega-3 rich seafood, like salmon, is good for your heart.

The meta-analysis, which is an in-depth review of 40 clinical trials, provides authoritative evidence for consuming more EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) omega-3 fats is associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

“The study supports the notion that EPA and DHA intake contributes to cardio protection, and that whatever patients are getting through the diet, they likely need more,” said Carl “Chip” Lavie, MD, a cardiologist at Ochsner Health in New Orleans, LA, USA, and one of the study authors.

The study was published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 

In Preclinical Alzheimer’s, Learning Falters Before Memory (ALZForum, 9/18/2020)

As Aβ accumulates in a person’s brain during the long preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, deficits in learning emerge prior to impairments in episodic memory, according to a study published in Neurology on September 4.

… Nikki Stricker of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, believes the study highlights the importance of learning deficits in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease and their potential in clinical testing. “The large effect size elicited over a short period of time … illustrates that a well-designed learning paradigm can outperform traditional measures of delayed recall, and brings to light the important role that sensitive cognitive measures play in the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease,” Stricker noted.

Burnout in Ophthalmology (Healio, 9/21/2020)

… Burnout is a psychological state encompassing a combination of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and low feeling of personal accomplishment.1 It is especially prevalent in medicine, where work-related stressors tend to be more extreme, responsibilities are numerous, and one is surrounded by and constantly compared to successful peers.

Here, we provide an overview of burnout in ophthalmology and its causes, summarize a framework behind understanding burnout, outline methods to bring awareness to burn-out in fellow colleagues, and appraise both personal and policy-oriented suggestions to combat burnout. …

NOTE:  This article cites Mayo Clinic research several times.

COVID-19 grows less deadly as doctors gain practice and drugs improve (Boston Globe, via Bloomberg, 9/19/2020)

Covid-19 continues to kill close to 1,000 Americans a day. But for those who develop dangerous cases of the infection, advances in medical care and the growing experience of doctors are improving the chances of survival.

… Doctors and experts say that improved medical tactics and earlier treatment are helping improve the outcomes for very sick patients, said Andrew Badley, head of Mayo Clinic’s Covid Research Task Force.

“Health-care preparedness today is much better than it was in February and March,” Badley said in an interview. “We have better and more rapid access to diagnosis. We have more knowledge about what drugs to use and what drugs not to use. We have more experimental treatments available. All of those contribute to possible improvements in the mortality rate.”


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Tags: About, Andrew Badley, artificial intelligence, big data, bile duct cancer, Bobbie Gostout, brain, cancer, cardiology, cardiovascular disease, cholangiocarcinoma, clinical research, clinical trials, COVID-19, Dawn Pedrotty, Findings, Gregory Poland, health disparities, heart disease, influenza, Lotte Dyrbye, Mark Wieland, Marysia Tweet, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, migraine, Nadia Laack, Native American, News, News of the Week, Nikki Stricker, oncology, ophthalmology, opioids, patient safety, pharmacology, physician burnout, plasma, pregnancy, Progress Updates, public health, research, Ryotaro Ishii, SCAD, Shahrukh Hashmi, Tanios Bekaii-Saab, Tufia Haddad, vaccines, Wesley Petersen

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