February 11th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Plunge for a Cause

By domenicfraboni domenicfraboni

By: Domenic Fraboni


It’s a frigid February afternoon. I guess it really wasn’t that bad by Minnesota standards. However, things were complicated by a brisk wind and the fact that the nine of us were all in what you would wear on your average beach day. Somehow we found ourselves standing at the edge of a gaping hole cut in the middle of a frozen lake. Behind us, we heard the announcer over the loud speaker say it was our turn to jump. We promptly stepped up, counted to three, squeezed each other’s hands hard, and took a plunge. The shock was immediate. Instantly the nine of us found ourselves scrambling, clambering, and clawing (well, as fast as we could without straining [...]

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January 27th, 2016 · 1 Comment

Medical "Marriage" - Improving the Clinician-Patient Relationship

By crystalmendoza crystalmendoza

By: Thomas Mork

“What do you know about him?” inquired my clinical instructor. I was on my first rotation as a student at the University of Utah and, using only two hands, was still able to count the number of patients I had seen. I commenced listing my patient’s home environment, his physical capabilities, etc. My clinical instructor cut me off. “That’s great, Tom, but what do you know about him?” I pondered the question for a moment.

“Well, he was a high school teacher.” I replied, questioningly. My clinical instructor smiled. “That’s it”, he said. And he made my goal for the next four weeks to learn something about the lives of my patients.

By the [...]

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December 17th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

WiSER Presents: Women in Science and Engineering Series- Elke Mühlberger

By crystalmendoza crystalmendoza

By: Robin Willenbring

Being human is hard sometimes.

Now, to add to that, many of us reading this particular blog post, are human scientists or in the medical field. There have been too many times to count that each of us has questioned our life’s choice, our sanity and thought about being anything else. What keeps us going? That is the age old question, isn’t it? For each the answer is different. However, there is one defining feature, our passion. Whether it’s a passion for developing technologies, teaching the next generation, caring for the sick, running a company, thinking critically, or viruses; each is a passion. Throughout our careers, we find ways to share this passion, through our publications, [...]

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December 3rd, 2015 · Leave a Comment

It's on Us

By crystalmendoza crystalmendoza

By Domenic Fraboni

The “It’s on US” campaign is a White House based movement that aims to increase awareness of sexual assault and sexual assault prevention.  I learned about the “It’s on US” campaign in January of last year when the NCAA became an official partner of the campaign.  As a member of the Division III Student Athlete Advisory Committee (DIII SAAC) I was tasked with bringing the campaign back to my respective conferences and campuses.  The “It’s on US” mission immediately resonated with me.  As a college football student-athlete I often felt subject to some unfair stereotypes of male student-athletes, specifically football athletes, and how they treated women.  Then I faced the real facts.  During their collegiate experience, one in [...]

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November 22nd, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Humanitarianism and medicine

By crystalmendoza crystalmendoza

By Crystal A. Mendoza and Andrew M. Harrison

Humanitarianism medicine stands apart from both academic and non-academic medicine. Although not mutually exclusive, humanitarianism medicine is one component of the larger field of humanitarianism: a vast conceptual construct of community that transcends individual civilizations and societies across time. On November 18, 2015, the Mayo Clinic Dolores Jean Lavins Center for Humanities hosted Dr. James J. Orbinski, 1999 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, for its inaugural Rewoldt Nobel Laureate Lecture.

Dr. Orbinski, physician, humanitarian leader, and emeritus President of the International Council of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), gave two lectures in Rochester, MN: “Humanitarianism In War: Médecins Sans Frontières And Beyond” and “Equity And Global Health — An [...]

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November 19th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

WiSER Takes Off!

By crystalmendoza crystalmendoza

Women in Science and Engineering Research (WiSER) has one mission: To support the success of women in research by providing opportunities for career development, networking with women leaders, identifying strong mentors, and developing a meaningful community for women in biomedical research at Mayo Clinic. They are off to a great start!

The group, founded by Kay Pepin and Mekala Raman, began with one key observation: women within Mayo Graduate School make up over half of the students (62%), both PhD and MD/PhD, but that number is not reflected in the Research Fellow population where men make up 62%. The gender disparity is even more striking for faculty, where women comprise only 21% of full faculty. These startling statistics are not unheard of for most [...]

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November 5th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Profession ≠ Job

By crystalmendoza crystalmendoza

By: Thomas Mork, SPT

What do you love about your profession? Is it seeing patients smile? Is it putting on your detective cap to figure out a disease? Or is it the sheer variety of the cases that you see every day? The fact is, if we go to work for one of these reasons, or one I haven’t mentioned, we are extremely fortunate; we are part of an exclusive club that enjoys our job. We are the ones that think about our patients as we make dinner, or research best practice for some light, nighttime reading. But our vocation comes with responsibility to ourselves and our colleagues. It is our duty to protect and advance our profession and further our [...]

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October 21st, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Mayo grad students reach out to their neighbors (in El Salvador)

By carlgustafson carlgustafson

Written by Crystal Mendoza and Carl Gustafson

The Biomedical Engineering and Physiology (BMEP) students are going global! In 2009, a few students got together and formed the Initiative for Medical Equipment Sustainability (IMES) to address issues of transferring medical technology to developing countries, and making those technologies sustainable. Since then, the program has grown to become part of the local Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), and has received funding and mentorship support from the Program in Underserved Global Health (PUGH).

The IMES team from Mayo Clinic in San Salvador, September 2015. The IMES team from Mayo Clinic, along with local collaborators from Hospital Nacional Rosales in San Salvador, [...]

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September 24th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Looking at Diversity: From the Top Down

By crystalmendoza crystalmendoza

By Domenic Fraboni

At times, diversity can be a difficult area to be “successful” in.  This can be especially true when trying to represent all the different aspects of diversity in a specific committee, staff, team, or any other group.  The complexity of this topic webs out even further when including those non-superficial definitions of diversity: ethnicity, religion, orientation, social, family type, education, and the list could continue on.  It may seem to be an obvious statement, but if we have diversity of any sort, we will only be able to better understand, collaborate upon, and ultimately solve the issues that face us every day.  With this being said, why do so many organizations fall short when it comes to fully [...]

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September 17th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Exploring the World through Research

By claracastillejobecerra claracastillejobecerra

By Luz Milbeth Cumba-García, MS

At the age of 16, I was admitted to the Universidad Metropolitana’s early admission program in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to study Cellular and Molecular Biology. From my early days as a college student, I had the opportunity to do summer internships abroad, conduct research in different laboratories in Puerto Rico, and attend countless national and international conferences. These experiences have led to great adventures in different countries where I not only learned about their culture, but also about their approach to research and science in general.

International experiences

My first research experience abroad was in 2010 when I investigated the response of T lymphocytes in a model of collagen-induced arthritis in [...]

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July 30th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Does gender bias benefit women in academia?

By claracastillejobecerra claracastillejobecerra

Historically, women have been underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This trend seems to be predominant in academia, where sexist hiring has been labeled as one of the culprits. But does current evidence support this hypothesis?

Research from Cornell psychologists, Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci, suggests that sexism in hiring may no longer be an obstacle for women in academia. Published earlier this year, the objective of this study was to determine the role of the gender bias in tenure-track faculty hiring. Male and female candidate profiles, which were identical in every respect except for sex, were created and subsequently reviewed by faculty from all 50 US states who were then asked to rank the [...]

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July 16th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Grey Lines - Stepping Over the Interdisciplinary Boundary in Healthcare Education

By andrewharrison andrewharrison

By Thomas Mork

I was sitting in Phillips Hall in the Siebens Building at Mayo Clinic, immersed in a speech by “Bob”: former patient, cancer survivor, and nationally-renowned speaker. He stood proudly at the podium while his voice reverberated among a crowd of physicians, nurses, and physical therapy students. This self-described “active patient” defied cancer by becoming a dynamic advocate for himself during his medical care. As his story goes, he brought forward multiple treatment options that his physician never considered. They decided to try these treatments when standard care was failing. Over a year later he is still cancer free and advocating to people across the nation to become active members of their healthcare team. The ideas he brought forth [...]

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July 5th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Read this while standing

By carlgustafson carlgustafson

“What you are doing, right now, is killing you!” Nilofer Merchant scanned a suddenly breathless crowd with a faux menace at her 2013 TED talk. The audience anxiously awaited her answer: what could possibly be killing us so menacingly and discretely that we would simply sit here and allow it?

Well, I agree with her, so let me repeat it. What you are doing, right now, is killing you. And me.

We are sitting. And that is what is killing us. I often sit for 8-10 hours every day: reading papers, documenting results, in meetings, culturing cells, you name it – I am sitting down. Then I go home, and…I sit down because I am thoroughly exhausted from all [...]

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May 13th, 2015 · 2 Comments

Believe it or not...

By andrewharrison andrewharrison

By Dr. Jim Maher

How can Mayo Clinic best honor the axis of diversity that might be called "faith," "belief," "unbelief," or "religion" and what leadership can be shown within Mayo Clinic's academic environment (the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine)? These were some of the questions that motivated a fascinating lunch session on May 11, 2015, organized by the College of Medicine Office for Diversity, and featuring a delightful panel representing a sampling of four faith traditions different from the nominal Christianity that typified 78% of Americans in 2010. The premise of the discussion ("Religious Diversity in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine: Positive Expression, Ongoing Challenges") was that global faith traditions, including agnosticism and atheism, are richly diverse, and the [...]

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March 19th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Becoming a Question Artist

By carlgustafson carlgustafson

“In re mathematica ars proponendi quaestionem pluris facienda est quam solvendi.” – Georg Cantor

Just when you thought Latin was a dead language…

If I were to ask you a question, how would you answer it? …Did you just tell yourself, “well, Self, that depends on the type of question!”? Good. You’re awake! Let’s be more specific.

Here is the question: What did Georg Cantor just say to the world?

Since I assume that you already answered this question, how exactly did you go about answering it? There are possibly thousands or millions of strategies by which to conquer translation and interpretation of Georg’s statement…Did you phone a friend who took Latin in [...]

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February 26th, 2015 · 3 Comments

The Banality of “That’s Nice”

By andrewharrison andrewharrison

By Nora E. King

I sat in Mayo Clinic’s St. Marys Hospital cafeteria with my clinical team, in that awkward way medical students know too well: the attending physician (“consultant” at Mayo Clinic) buys you a cup of coffee and then proceeds to gossip with his buddies for the next 15 minutes. It’s never clear whether you should chuckle along with the stories or pretend to not listen, absorbed in your notes on the patient list.

Unusually, the cafeteria was filled with music. “What’s that noise?” someone said. We glanced around and noticed a poster with sepia photos of famous Black Americans. “Oh, it’s Black History Month,” his colleague replied, “that’s nice. Let’s get out of here, the music [...]

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January 29th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Training in Research and Parenthood

By claracastillejobecerra claracastillejobecerra

Perhaps you are contemplating becoming a parent in the future. If so, you may be wondering how becoming a parent will affect your career, how you will handle your responsibilities as a researcher and parent, or how you will survive these tough years in graduate school with the addition of children. To answer some of these questions, this blog will offer different perspectives and advice from students who have made the decision to become both scientist and parents.


Fan-Chi Hsu, Ph.D. received her doctoral degree from the immunologyfan-chi track in November 2014. She and her husband, Chien-Chang Chen, a 5th year pre-doctoral student in the immunology [...]

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January 4th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Avoiding scientific nostalgia

By carlgustafson carlgustafson

Hello diversity blog readers and welcome to 2015! Thanks for sticking with us; we hope you’re as excited about the future of the blog as we are. If not, keep reading. Maybe someday we'll serve up the post you've been waiting for.

Science moves pretty fast [citation needed]. In fact, it’s very difficult to quantify the rate of progress of science (umm, units?), and it seems that experts disagree on how to actually do this. Regardless, it appears that global scientific research output (units?) increases at a rate of 8-9% per year. Compare this to the rate of increase in global computer processing power. “Moore’s law” (not really a law…and yes, I got this off Wikipedia, don’t judge) observes that the [...]

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December 18th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Should dual degree training exist?

By andrewharrison andrewharrison

By Andrew M. Harrison

No, I will not be writing about the illustrious EdD-JD. However, please note these are both largely regarded as “professional” doctoral degrees in the US. Although still less relevant in the US, you should know the difference, as most of the rest of the world draws a clear distinction between a research doctorate and a “first professional degree”.

As data interferes with effecting social changes (for better or worse), and blogs are by nature not designed to be lengthy, let’s get this part out of the way first and fast. More Commentaries on the subject of MD-PhD training have been published in the academic literature than I care to discuss. The most comprehensive [...]

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December 8th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Adapting to Rochester

By annyocelisantiago annyocelisantiago

By Annyoceli Santiago

I remember when I was accepted into the Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at Mayo Clinic two years ago. I was extremely excited about moving to the United States to do research. When I told my friends and professors that I had been accepted to PREP, most of them said “…but there’s nothing in Rochester!”. It really didn’t take away my enthusiasm because I was mostly thinking about the research… And after all, no distractions were great because I could focus on work. After my first week, I already had a group of friends and was introduced to most people in the IMSD (Initiative for Maximizing Student Development) program. I was amazed by how culturally diverse [...]

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