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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Feb 4, 2019 · "Only" a medical student, already advancing the science

Rosalie Sterner is already impressive, concurrently pursuing her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees through Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. However, recently she made additional waves, as the lone medical student to receive the 2018 Outstanding Abstract Achievement Award from the American Society of Hematology.

Sterner received this award and presented her work on development of safer and more effective strategies for chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapies at the ASH annual meeting in December in San Diego.

The Outstanding Abstract Achievement Award recognizes meritorious science and supports early-career investigators by honoring the trainee with the highest-scoring abstract in five categories: undergraduate student, medical student, graduate student, resident physician, and postdoctoral fellow. Through Mayo’s Medical Scientist Training Program, Sterner completed her doctoral thesis in immunology at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in 2018 and is now in her third year at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine.

“Getting to present was a great opportunity to share our work with a broader audience,”  Sterner said of speaking before a few hundred people at the largest national meeting in hematology. “While CAR-T cell therapy has proven successful in treating certain cancers, severe toxicities have limited its widespread application.”

Sterner is part of a team of Mayo Clinic researchers from the Department of Immunology, Division of Hematology, T-Cell Engineering Laboratory, and Department of Molecular Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics who have developed a strategy to reduce toxicity in CAR-T cell therapy. An immune-system reaction associated with CAR-T cell therapy can produce two potentially deadly complications. The team led by Saad Kenderian, M.B., Ch.B., a Mayo Clinic hematologist, has found solutions to help patients who experience these toxicities. Read related news release.

“We’re very excited by the results [of the research]. This strategy definitely has a lot of potential and could help a lot of people,” Sterner says.

She became involved in the toxicity project while completing her thesis in the cell-signaling lab of Karen Hedin, Ph.D., who collaborated on the project with Dr. Kenderian.

Now the research team is designing a phase II clinical trial for the use of lenzilumab to prevent CAR-T toxicities in patients with diffuse large B cell lymphoma. If the trial results are consistent with earlier findings, the therapy could become a standard of care during CAR-T cell therapy at Mayo Clinic.

This research falls under the category of immunology – the science in which researchers study the fundamental mechanisms that cause and regulate inflammation and immune responsiveness.

Sterner was drawn to immunology by the mix of basic science and translational science. “Immunology allows you to bridge that gap,” she says. “You can have a lot of impact on developing better clinical treatments.”

She’s already advancing the science and has not even finished medical school. More work to improve outcomes and make the health care experience better for patients is undoubtedly in her future. Stay tuned.


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Oct 24, 2017 · New program trains scientists in regenerative medicine

Mayo Clinic’s new Regenerative Sciences Training Program — one of the nation’s first doctoral research programs in regenerative sciences —prepares researchers to accelerate the development of cutting-edge diagnostics and therapeutics.

“This program will push forward the medical treatments of tomorrow,” says Karen Hedin, Ph.D., director of the Regenerative Sciences Training Program. “We’re trying to give our students all the tools they’ll need to speed up the translation and application of novel therapies.”

Students in the program will graduate from Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences with a doctorate in biomedical sciences with an emphasis in regenerative sciences and one of seven Ph.D. tracks. Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine is funding up to 16 five-year fellowships.

From left: Emma Goddery, Paige Arneson, and Christopher Paradise, comprise the inaugural cohort of Ph.D. students in Mayo Clinic’s Regenerative Sciences Training Program.

The program’s first three students are:

Paige Arneson, who earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry from the University of Wisconsin–Superior in Superior, Wisconsin, is specializing in biochemistry and molecular biology in the lab of Jason Doles, Ph.D. Her research focuses on the loss of muscle mass associated with disease and aging.

In healthy young people, stem cells called “satellite cells” regenerate muscle as needed. Preliminary evidence from her research indicates that the metabolism of satellite cells is important for maintaining this regenerative ability. She plans to more precisely define what goes wrong with satellite cells in disease and aging and pave the way for therapies that allow these stem cells to properly regenerate muscle and restore health and function.

Emma Goddery, who earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, is specializing in neuroimmunology in the lab of Charles Howe, Ph.D. Her research focuses on understanding inflammation and strategies to alter inflammatory responses in the central nervous system to improve future treatments that regenerate damaged neural tissue. Many neurodegenerative conditions are either caused or accompanied by abnormal inflammation in the central nervous system. Her research analyzing brain inflammation in mice will be among the first to analyze which specific immune reactions help vs. hinder the ability of transplanted neural stem cells to heal and regenerate damaged areas of the brain and spinal cord.

“This program seemed like a perfect way to marry my scientific interests in immunology, neurology, regenerative medicine and biomedical engineering with an interdisciplinary, collaborative field that holds immense promise in transforming health care,” she says.

Christopher Paradise, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, is specializing in molecular biology and experimental therapeutics in the lab of Andre van Wijnen, Ph.D. He worked two years as a Mayo Clinic researcher, studying mesenchymal stem cells, which are capable of regenerating muscle, bone and cartilage, before pursuing his doctorate.

His research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that control how and when multipotent stem cells commit to a specific type of tissue, such as muscle, bone, fat and cartilage. Delineating how genes and epigenetic factors (biological mechanisms that regulate gene expression) control this process will aid in the development of regenerative therapies for musculoskeletal diseases and injuries. Ultimately, the aim of this work is to use and instruct a patient’s own stem cells to regenerate damaged or diseased tissues within the body.

“I applied to the program because it provides an unparalleled opportunity to gain exposure to the field of regenerative medicine,” Paradise says.


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