Snowbirding for Science: Mobile Research Vehicle in Arizona for Metabolic Syndrome Study
Mayo Clinic CTSA's mobile research vehicle — normally used in communities around Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minn. — will escape the snow and ice this winter as it travels to the Phoenix area from October through February. Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz., is home to Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus.
While the vehicle is in Arizona, it will be used for an extension of an approved study being run in conjunction with Arizona State University (ASU) called the Maricopa County Insulin Resistance Initiative. The study, led by Lawrence Mandarino, Ph.D., director of the ASU/Mayo Clinic Center for Metabolic and Vascular Biology, examines metabolic syndrome (diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance) among Latinos.
Individuals and families who self-identify as Latino will be invited to participate. Potential participants will be screened to explain the study's purpose, inclusion/exclusion criteria and study procedures. Eligible participants will then be scheduled to go to convenient sites — off the Mayo campus — where the vehicle will be used for study-related procedures.
The RV-style vehicle, which was funded through a grant from the National Institutes of Health, is a self-contained mobile research facility and is one of the few of its kind in the country. The vehicle makes it possible for researchers to bring studies directly to community members who may face health care access or transportation challenges, and can travel to venues such as universities and shopping malls that attract a large and diverse population.
The vehicle includes two exam rooms, equipment for lab processing, a private area for patient interviews and audiovisual technology for patient education.
"The most important part of this study is that it provides a resource to connect physicians and researchers with a patient population that is extremely affected by these diseases," Dr. Mandarino said. "Creating a link will allow us to do interventions in this population so we can understand how to prevent progression of these diseases — not so much by a pharmacological approach, but by lifestyle approach."
While the vehicle is in Arizona, it may also be used for other approved studies and appropriate community events.