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.


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6 days ago · Why doctors might need to go back to 6th grade

When you leave the hospital, following an injury, stroke, surgery or other event, you are loaded down with paper. You receive instructions on how to take care of your body. They tell you how to prepare your home and your family. Other pages include directions on what medication to take, when and how. For example, take one in the morning with breakfast; or three times a day, at least one hour before meals. The papers describe any special equipment or supplies you may need, as well as how to use them. Other pages discuss possible side effects, and still more share tips for prevention or better health in the future.

Likely you are feeling tired a sick. Now you are supposed to read and understand all this writing, with its complicated medical language.

Asad Choudhry, M.B.B.S.

Asad Choudhry, M.B.B.S. (@choasad), was a trauma research fellow at Mayo Clinic, when he started thinking about this.

While collecting data for another research study, he noticed that many patients tended to call back for the same few reasons. These reasons largely included clarification of written instructions provided to patients in their discharge summaries.

“After discharge, different patients tended to ask the same questions repeatedly related to instructions given; time and time again,” he says.

Dr. Choudhry and his mentor Martin Zielinski, M.D. (@ZielinskiTrauma), put together a research team to examine this.

Initial findings

Their initial study looked at the readability of discharge instructions, to see what grade level the Trauma Center used when writing the instructions. They were quick to note that it was much higher than recommendations from the National Institutes of Health and American Medical Association. (Both groups recommend a 6th grade reading level). In fact, they found the current instructions were written at around a 10th grade level.

After reviewing the records of nearly 500 patients, they found 27 percent received instructions that were difficult to read. They also found that 65 percent of the patients had reading skills below the level of their discharge summary.

Example Readability Edit

You had an Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filter placed during this hospitalization: this was done for the prevention of respiratory sequelae of thromboembolic disease which commonly occurs after extremity trauma. (Grade 20.4)

You had an Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filter placed during this hospitalization.

This was done to prevent the formation of clots in the blood vessels of your lungs. This is common after an injury to your extremities. (Grade 8.3)

Forty patients were readmitted within 30 days, and of those, 65 percent had reading skills below the level of their original discharge instructions.

“At the time there were some guidelines on the appropriate reading level of discharge information,” says Dr. Choudhry. “However, there was little information about the effect of improved readability on patient return phone calls as well as readmissions.”

The research then became a two-part effort. First, to understand the level of information patients received upon discharge, compared to national guidelines. Second, analyzing the effect on patient care outcomes after receiving more readable discharge instructions.

“It was an area lacking in quality data,” says Dr. Zielinski, “and there were outstanding opportunities to improve patient care and understanding.”

Following the trail

The team recently published their findings from the second part of this research.

In this project, the Trauma Center revised the way they wrote discharge instructions. They rewrote the information to a reading level of grade 6. Then they compared 1,072 patients, 493 who had received the old instructions, and 579 who received the new ones.

The researchers found that this change transformed outcomes for patients. Not only were there many less phone calls from patients asking for clearer instructions, but there were less readmissions.

They also found that by improving readability of instructions for pain medication, they reduced questions related to pain.

“Health care systems are trying to find ways to reduce opioid misuse,” says Dr. Choudhry. “By enhancing the readability of pain management and medication instructions, patients are better able to understand how to control their pain. This leads to fewer questions or confusion around pain and potentially better pain control.”

Dr. Choudhry has since moved on from Mayo Clinic, and is in his third year of general surgical training at the State University of New York Upstate Medical School, Syracuse, New York.

Martin Zielinski, M.D.

Meanwhile, Dr. Zielinski and the team are continuing this research. They revised all templates for discharge instructions in the Division of Trauma, Critical Care and General Surgery to reach a less than 8th grade reading level.

“Our current trauma research fellow, Dr. Joy Hughes, is leading a study on the effects that learning disabilities have on understanding discharge instructions,” says Dr. Zielinski. “We are developing methods to enhance patient understanding such as 3-D models on the patient’s specific wound and how best to care for it at home, as well as videos teaching these methods.”

The team is pleased with results so far, he says. “We can indeed enhance patient understanding, and this leads to positive outcomes for both the patients and the providers.”


This research is in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.

“The Kern Center provides outstanding resources with knowledgeable people who are on the cutting edge of the science of health care delivery,” says Dr. Zielinski. “Dr. Habermann and her team are invaluable contributors without whom we could not have been successful on ensuring our patients receive the best care possible.”

Elizabeth Habermann, Ph.D. (@EBHabermann), is the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Scientific Director for Surgical Outcomes. Surgical Outcomes is one of several focus areas in the Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.  Center members collaborate to discover new ways to improve health; translate those discoveries into evidence-based, actionable treatments, processes and procedures; and apply this new knowledge to improve care for patients everywhere.

Editor’s Note: This post has a Flesch-Kincaid grade level of 10.5, as measured in Microsoft Word.

Tue, Jan 8 6:00am · Research News Roundup-December 2018

Each month, we publish Mayo Clinic’s Research News Roundup. This post includes brief summaries and links to news releases from the preceding month that discuss some of our latest medical research. It also connects readers to related resources.

December’s news releases highlight some of the wide variety of research being conducted in Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. The below findings were presented at two of the top annual international cancer symposia.

Read on for recent findings of Mayo Clinic Research:

Research led by oncologists Roberto Leon-Ferre, M.D. and Charles Loprinzi, M.D. of Mayo Clinic has found that the drug oxybutynin helps to reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes in women who are unable to take hormone replacement therapy, including breast cancer survivors. These findings were presented at the 2018 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

“Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause and can be even more severe in breast cancer survivors than they are in the general population,” says Dr. Leon-Ferre. He says several factors contribute to the increased severity of hot flashes in breast cancer survivors including exposure to chemotherapy, which may bring on early menopause; the use of antiestrogen drugs, such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors; and the use of medications or procedures to suppress the function of the ovaries. Hormone replacement therapy, which is sometimes used to treat hot flashes, is generally not recommended for breast cancer survivors. “Hot flashes not only impact a patient’s quality of life, they are associated with patients prematurely discontinuing breast cancer treatment, which may increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence and mortality,” says Dr. Leon-Ferre. “It is important for physicians to have effective options to treat hot flashes.”

Mayo Clinic researchers have developed two new strategies that may improve the performance of chimeric antigen receptor therapy (CAR-T cell therapy) in treating cancer. They are presenting results of their preclinical research at the 2018 annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in San Diego.

Read more about CAR-T cell therapy at Mayo Clinic.

Mayo Clinic researchers have found that an oral drug, apixaban, used to treat blood clots in patients undergoing cancer therapy, is safe and effective. The drug was associated with fewer major bleeding events and fewer recurrent blood clots, compared to low-molecular- weight heparin. Their findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology by Robert McBane II M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.

“Nearly 1 in 5 patients with cancer will develop a clot in the veins, referred to as either a deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism,” says Dr. McBane. “Clotting events can be deadly with pulmonary embolism being the second most common cause of death in cancer patients.”


More from Mayo Clinic:

Mon, Jan 7 6:00am · One more gift for you in the new year

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.


Dec 19, 2018 · The sky's the limit

@bfranz Thank you for reading Advancing the Science, and thanks so much for your kind words. Best wishes to you and your daughter.

Dec 4, 2018 · Research News Roundup -- November 2018

The Mayo Clinic Research News Roundup includes brief summaries and links to research news releases from the past month. It also connects readers to related resources. Read on for more information from Mayo Clinic Research.

An enzyme intended to prevent autoimmune disease can be hijacked and used by some viruses to avoid immune detection. That discovery from Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators appears in PLOS Biology.

There’s also good news. The same team also defined how much viral genetic material is needed to reverse the process and instead activate the immune system against the virus.

Mayo Clinic’s Nuclear Medicine Division on Mayo Clinic’s Arizona, Florida and Minnesota campuses significantly increased services provided to clinical and research patients in 2018. The division debuted a new therapeutic-diagnostic, or “thera-nostic,” practice, joined major research trials, and advanced radiotracer production capabilities.

In Mayo’s thera-nostic practice, a therapeutic agent is paired with a diagnostic imaging agent of almost identical molecular structure. Patients are imaged with a positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, treated with a radioactive chemotherapy, and rescanned to determine if the therapy was effective.

“The concept is, if we can see it, we can treat it; and if we can then no longer see it, it’s dead,” says Geoffrey Johnson, M.D., Ph.D., chair, Division of Nuclear Medicine.

Read the release for more on the new therapeutic developments in prostate, brain and neuroendocrine cancers.

And one extra note: nuclear medicine is a subset of radiology, learn more on the Department of Radiology website.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is going to change health care, including the practice of radiology, profoundly. But rather than machines taking over, clinicians and researchers will use them to improve patient care.

“If somebody puts their head in the sand, and wakes up and pulls their head out five years later, the practice will be very different,” says Bradley Erickson, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic diagnostic radiologist.

To help with this transitional time, Dr. Erickson and colleagues in the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and Nvidia Corp., a computer chip manufacturer and technology company, developed a course for radiologists interested in acquiring or developing the skills needed to navigate AI advancements. This course, called the “Deep Learning Institute,” was offered at the RSNA Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting Nov. 25–30 in Chicago.

While this may not appear as rigorous as some of the research you might see in the blog, this project is going to expand access to cessation treatment specifically for cancer patients. The hope of course is that for these especially vulnerable patients, transforming this aspect of their care may reap near and long-term benefits … and translate into better care everywhere for patients with cancer.

This project is led by the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence  Center.

Another headline that might seem off-topic, this announcement actually ramps up our ability to better prepare doctors to work in the fast-changing world of big data in health care, machine learning to augment human intelligence, and embedded, practice-transforming research.

This endowment gift from Jay Alix, noted philanthropist of Birmingham, Mich., and founder of the firm, AlixPartners, is the largest ever to Mayo Clinic. It recognizes the importance of educating the next generation of physicians who will carry on Mayo’s tradition of solving the most serious and complex medical challenges – one patient at a time.

“My primary philanthropic interests are medicine and education. Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine will offer an ideal opportunity to advance both fields,” says Mr. Alix. “Genetics, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and other technologies are transforming medical research, education and practice. This gift will further enable Mayo’s medical school to recruit the best medical students and to create a curriculum that trains them to harness evolving radical advances in medical science and technology to the greatest benefit of patients.”

For patients who have been diagnosed with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), Mayo researchers have found a direct correlation between a specific antibody, myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein — also known as MOG, and an increased risk of recurring attacks in these individuals.

Mayo Clinic neurologists Sean Pittock, M.D., and Sebastian Lopez, M.D., have found that when patients test positive for the MOG antibody, they have an increased possibility of another ADEM episode. The study was published in JAMA Neurology.

Note: While not the same disease, ADEM can look similar to acute flaccid myelitis, a rare condition that has recently been cropping up around the world. More information on these and related conditions can be found on The Transverse Myelitis Association website.


Register to receive regular updates from Advancing the Science.

Find research feature stories, videos and more news on Discovery’s Edge, Mayo Clinic’s online research magazine.

Mayo Clinic Radio‘s 1-minute and in-depth discussions of research and practical patient information can be found online or via your local radio station.

Information about many of the clinical trials available across Mayo Clinic is online as well.

Much of our content is available in Spanish, and we also have news and patient resources in PortugueseMandarin Chinese and Arabic.

Nov 20, 2018 · Addressing disparities in care, to the very end of life

Not everyone in the United States speaks English as their first language. In fact, in 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau found that one of every five residents speaks another language at home.

Unfortunately, this fact leads to another – for people with limited English proficiency, disparities are common in health care.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has an entire program addressing this. “Improving Patient Safety Systems for Patients with Limited English Proficiency” is one of many research and education programs in the U.S. designed to help patients with limited English proficiency access the same level of care that others receive.

Mandated in the Affordable Care Act, “qualified” interpreters (read about Section 1557’s expanded requirements) are required for health care discussions with patients and their families. To reduce miscommunication, interpreters help health care providers communicate accurately with their patients, and patients communicate with their providers – no matter what the patient’s preferred language might be. Interpreters not only provide bidirectional communication but often function as cultural brokers, providing religious, spiritual and other contextual inputs for discussions and decision making. They should also help to convey the clinician’s empathy and care for patients.

However, interpreters aren’t part of every conversation a patient might have regarding their care preferences, as sometimes these are iterative discussions that take place on several occasions over several days or weeks.

Missing information can lead to care disparities.

What is Mayo Clinic doing about it?

Amelia Barwise, M.B.B.Ch., conducts pulmonary and critical care research, while continuing her studies as a Ph.D. candidate in the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Every year, Mayo Clinic sees more than 1 million patients from across the U.S. and about 140 different countries. We seek to provide the best possible quality of care for all patients, regardless of language, culture, ethnicity, religion or any other potential barriers to effective communication that might exist.

Research allows us to identify causes of disparity, and evaluate potential ways to improve care and reduce those disparities.

Recently, a team led by Amelia Barwise, M.B.B.Ch., a pulmonary and critical care researcher at Mayo Clinic, examined end-of-life decision making in the intensive care unit.

“We believed that conversations  about complex and sensitive issues at end of life,” says Dr. Barwise, “combined with limited English proficiency, could easily cause suboptimal communication, and in turn to a lower quality of care.”

Dr. Barwise and her fellow researchers sought to determine if there were differences in decision making and care for patients in the ICU, by examining differences in code status and health care utilization as well as advance care planning for patients with limited English proficiency.

Their findings, which do indicate a difference between the two groups of patients, are published in the September issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Summary of the research

When reviewing three years (May 31, 2011, through June 1, 2014) of records from seven ICUs across Mayo Clinic, the team identified 2.8 percent of 27, 523 patients as having limited English proficiency.

They found that these individuals were less likely to change their code status during ICU admission from full code (do everything possible to restore and maintain heart beat and breathing) to ‘do not resuscitate,’ regardless of sex, education level, insurance status or severity of illness.

“While individual choices are expected to differ, a substantial variance connected to language indicates a possible disparity in care,” says Dr. Barwise.

“Those with limited proficiency were less likely to ask for comfort measures only,” she continues, “and among those that eventually died, transitions to DNR, or comfort measures only, were substantially delayed.”

The percentage of patients with limited English proficiency who died in the ICU, or later in the hospital, was the same as those who spoke English. But decisions sometimes made including withdrawal of active treatments and transition to comfort measures only, were less frequent and occurred later, or never, for patients with limited proficiency. This was observed despite consistent use of palliative care conferences across all patients, with even more documented family conferences for those with limited English proficiency than fluency.

The difference in overall health care utilization and choices for end-of-life care reflect two possibilities, Dr. Barwise states.

“One, more patients with limited English proficiency have an authentic desire to receive full medical interventions rather than comfort measures only;” or “Two, suboptimal communication and other barriers are preventing patients from receiving care that aligns with their values, wishes and preferences.”

She and her team believe communication is certainly an issue – one they hope to help improve. They have other research projects underway to determine where communication breakdowns occur, and also to evaluate potential interventions.


Dr. Barwise is also a pre-doctoral (Ph.D.) student in the Clinical and Translational Science Track of the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

For information about Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, and its five schools, visit the website.

Nov 12, 2018 · Research News Roundup -- October 2018

Welcome to Advancing the Science.

On Mayo Clinic’s medical research blog we have a wide range of research and research-education content. In addition to stories you won’t find anywhere else, we also collect content from other sources in one easy-to-access spot.

The monthly Research News Roundup is one such aggregator, highlighting and linking to all the research news releases from the previous month. Enjoy, and come back again.

Rose Geranium Lavender herb species as well as coconut and sugar RoseRose geranium oil may help to ease the symptoms of nasal vestibulitis, a common and painful nasal condition linked to cancer drug treatment, according to the results of a small observational study, published online in the journal BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care

“Nasal vestibulitis is a side effect of cancer drug treatment, and is particularly common in people treated with a class of drugs called taxanes,” says lead author Elizabeth Cathcart-Rake, M.D., a Hematology Oncology resident at Mayo Clinic. These drugs stop cell division and stunt the formation of new blood vessels to prevent tumor growth.” Dr. Cathcart-Rake says there are no treatments currently available for this unpleasant side effect of cancer therapy.

On a related note, Mayo Clinic’s Integrative Medicine and Health team helps people use health and wellness practices for physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. Integrative therapies complement rather than replace conventional Western medical care. These integrative practices — sometimes called complementary and alternative medicine — may help people with cancer, persistent pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and many other conditions.

Patient radiation therapy mask showing laser lines for targeting cancer cells in the brainWhen it comes to radiation therapy to treat brain cancer, hippocampal-avoidance whole-brain radiotherapy in conjunction with the drug memantine better preserved patients’ cognitive function and demonstrated similar cancer control outcomes, compared to traditional whole-brain radiotherapy with memantine.

These findings were presented on Tuesday, Oct. 23, by Mayo Clinic researchers at the 2018 annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) in San Antonio.

Researchers at Mayo Clinic have identified three specific gene types that account for a known two-to-three-fold increase in myeloma diagnoses among African-Americans. Researchers also demonstrated the ability to study race and racial admixture more accurately using DNA analysis. The findings were published today in Blood Cancer Journal.

“Myeloma is a serious blood cancer that occurs two to three times more often in African-Americans than Caucasians,” says Vincent Rajkumar, M.D., a hematologist at Mayo Clinic and senior author of the study. “We sought to identify the mechanisms of this health disparity to help us better understand why myeloma occurs in the first place and provide insight into the best forms of therapy.”

An international team of researchers led by Konstantinos Lazaridis, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, has developed a new tool to help predict outcomes of primary sclerosing cholangitis. The team’s work is published in Hepatology.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a disease of the bile ducts, in which persistent inflammation causes scarring, hardening and narrowing of the ducts that eventually may lead to serious liver damage. The disease is commonly associated with inflammatory bowel disease and, usually, ulcerative colitis.

Mayo Clinic announced on Monday, Oct. 8, that it received a $10 million grant from The Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Fund at Vanguard Charitable on the recommendation of Louis V. and Robin L. Gerstner.

The grant will support five initiatives across Mayo Clinic’s Arizona, Florida and Minnesota sites, and continues a long relationship with Mayo Clinic that includes the Gerstner Family Career Development Awards in Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine.

The grant advances research in the use of augmented human intelligence in cardiovascular care, and advances care for arthritis and spine pain using regenerative medicine and data analytics. Also, the grant provides specialized education opportunities for nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Mayo Clinic researchers have identified the drug estradiol as a potential new treatment for a subset of women with triple-negative breast cancer. Their findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

“Triple-negative breast cancer is a form of breast cancer that lacks expression of estrogen receptor alpha, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, also known as HER2. And it exhibits high rates of disease recurrence,” says John Hawse, Ph.D., a molecular biologist at Mayo Clinic and senior author. “So far, there have been few drugs other than chemotherapy that appear to work effectively for the treatment of this disease.”

Obese patients who underwent a life-saving liver transplant and weight-loss surgery at the same time were better able to keep the weight off long term and had fewer metabolic complications than those who lost weight on their own before undergoing a liver transplant, Mayo Clinic research shows. The findings were recently published in Hepatology.

“This study shows that the combined approach of liver transplantation and weight-loss surgery is safe and effective over the long term,” says senior author Julie Heimbach, M.D., a transplant surgeon and division chair of Transplant Surgery at Mayo Clinic.

As obesity rates in the U.S. have soared, so have the number of people diagnosed with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease – a range of liver diseases that affects people who drink little to no alcohol and results in too much fat stored in liver cells.

Researchers at Mayo Clinic have developed a new genetics-based prognostic tool for myelodysplastic syndrome. Their findings are published in the October print issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

“Myelodysplastic syndrome is one of the most frequent blood cancers affecting the elderly with annual incidence exceeding 50 cases per 100,000 in people 65 years or older,” says Ayalew Tefferi, M.D., a Mayo Clinic hematologist who is the principal investigator and lead author.

Dr. Tefferi says the average survival for patients with myelodysplastic syndrome is estimated at 2½ years, and survival rates have not improved over the past several decades.  Read more.


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Oct 2, 2018 · Research News Roundup -- September 2018

Each month, we publish Mayo Clinic’s Research News Roundup. This article includes brief summaries and links to news releases from the preceding month that discuss some of our latest medical research. It also connects readers to related resources.

Read on for recent findings of Mayo Clinic Research:

human body anatomy with the liver highlightedA team of researchers from Mayo Clinic Cancer Center has been awarded a five-year, $11.5-million Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant in liver and biliary tract cancer from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Specialized Program of Research Excellence grants are designed to promote interdisciplinary research and help basic research findings move quickly from the laboratory to patient care.

To earn these competitive grants, institutions must demonstrate a high degree of collaboration between top scientists and clinicians and show excellence in translational research projects.

The medical community has long known that patients on long-term opioid therapy often have significantly more health care visits. But adhering to a standardized care process model for opioid prescriptions appears to reduce the overall number of health care visits for these patients while maintaining safety, shows new research published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Controlled substance agreements outline an individualized pain care plan for patients ─ in this case for those needing ongoing opioid therapy.

a portrait of a smiling middle-aged woman, seated, with her chin resting on her handPremenopausal women who have their ovaries surgically removed face an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease, according to a Mayo Clinic study published on Wednesday, Sept. 19, in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

“This is the first study that has shown an important link between estrogen deprivation in younger women and kidney damage. Women who have their ovaries surgically removed have an increased long-term risk of chronic kidney disease,” says Walter Rocca, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neurologist and epidemiologist, and senior author.

The research team used data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project to determine these findings.

Zombie cells are the ones that can’t die but are equally unable to perform the functions of a normal cell. These zombie, or senescent, cells are implicated in a number of age-related diseases. And with a new letter in Nature, Mayo Clinic researchers have expanded that list.

In a mouse model of brain disease, scientists report that senescent cells accumulate in certain brain cells prior to cognitive loss. By preventing the accumulation of these cells, they were able to diminish tau protein aggregation, neuronal death and memory loss.

Resident physician burnout in the U.S. is widespread, with the highest rates concentrated in certain specialties, according to research from Mayo Clinic, Oregon Health & Science University and collaborators. The findings appeared on Tuesday, Sept. 18, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Physician burnout is a dangerous mix of exhaustion and depersonalization that contributes to physicians making mistakes while administering health care.


Mayo Clinic physicians Matthew Block, M.D., Ph.D. and Tina Hieken, M.D., have received a Stand up to Cancer (SU2C) Catalyst Award to fund melanoma research and a neoadjuvant clinical trial.

“This study, “Neoactivate”, will test two novel approaches to the treatment of patients with high-risk, stage 3 melanoma guided by specific mutations within the melanoma,” says Dr. Hieken. “Two combinations of immunotherapy and targeted therapy will be given before surgery, and all patients will receive immunotherapy after surgery.”


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Meet our researchers and check out the research and education that after 150 years, continue to provide the underpinning for the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit medical group practice.

Find other research feature stories, videos and news on Discovery’s Edge, Mayo Clinic’s online research magazine.

Mayo Clinic Radio‘s 1-minute and in-depth discussions of research and practical patient information can be found online or via your local radio station.

Information about many of the clinical trials available across Mayo Clinic is online as well.

Much of our content is available in Spanish, and we also have news and patient resources in PortugueseMandarin Chinese and Arabic.


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