Ann Vincent, M.B.B.S., M.D.
"My patients inspire my research questions, and they ultimately benefit from what I learn through my research."
Finding better ways to evaluate and treat fatigue in fibromyalgia
Part of the mission of the Mayo Clinic Center for Translational Science Activities (CTSA) is to support and develop junior investigators — those with little or no extramural funding for research. Some have recently completed postdoctoral fellowships; others are established clinicians who are beginning to do research.
Ann Vincent, M.B.B.S., M.D., is one such junior investigator. A consultant in the Division of General Internal Medicine and medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Clinic, she studies fatigue as it relates to fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia affects three to six million people in the United States, and fatigue is cited as a symptom in about three-fourths of fibromyalgia patients.
Getting involved in research
A fellowship in women's health — comprising one year each of clinical work and research — at Mayo Clinic in 1998 served as Dr. Vincent's introduction to research. In 2006, Dr. Vincent completed more formal training through the CTSA's postdoctoral certificate program in clinical and translational science, which includes clinical research coursework and mentored research training.
This summer, Dr. Vincent begins a one-year appointment as a scholar in the CTSA's KL2 Mentored Career Development Program, where she'll investigate attributes of fatigue in fibromyalgia under the mentorship of Michael Joyner, M.D., and Debra Barton, Ph.D.
"During my time as a KL2 scholar, I plan to submit an R01 grant application to develop and validate an integrated fatigue assessment protocol specific to fibromyalgia," Dr. Vincent says.
In addition to beginning the KL2 program, Dr. Vincent is currently involved in a population-based study of chronic fatigue syndrome, a project supported by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study utilizes the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a unique medical records-linkage system that enables investigators to study health and illness in Olmsted County, Minn., residents. During the planning phase of this study, Dr. Vincent received consultation from the CTSA's biostatistics, epidemiology and study design resource.
Answers for patients
As a clinician, Dr. Vincent says her research is driven by a desire to help her patients.
"Not much is known about fatigue related to fibromyalgia," she says. "Many know that pain is a symptom of fibromyalgia, but fatigue is a serious issue too."
Clinicians don't have very effective methods with which to assess fatigue, Dr. Vincent says; without dependable ways to measure fatigue, it's difficult to evaluate treatment efficacy. Dr. Vincent hypothesizes that combining a variety of techniques, such as self-report questionnaires and physiological measurements, will lead to better characterization of fatigue. After determining new ways to assess fibromyalgia-related fatigue, she intends to design clinical trials to evaluate novel fatigue treatments.
Dr. Vincent says she envisions her research coming full circle to where it began — with her patients.
"My patients inspire my research questions, and they ultimately benefit from what I learn through my research," she says.