Sundeep Khosla, M.D.
"Being able to move knowledge back and forth from the lab to the patient is what excites me the most."
Blending basic science and clinical research to study osteoporosis and bone biology
During his 20 years at Mayo Clinic, Sundeep Khosla, M.D., has witnessed the growth of clinical research facilities at Mayo — from a single facility in the Alfred Building at Saint Marys Hospital in the 1960s to today's CTSA-supported inpatient, outpatient and mobile Clinical Research Unit (CRU) facilities and services.
"The strength of Mayo Clinic's Center for Translational Science Activities (CTSA) is integration," says Dr. Khosla, an endocrinologist who was named a Mayo Clinic Distinguished Investigator in 2009. The CTSA has an "ambitious scope," he adds, which has produced new relationships with the clinical practice and Mayo educational programs, such as Mayo Graduate School and Mayo Medical School. "The CTSA has provided a strong stimulus that is integrating research across Mayo Clinic," he says.
A bonehead (really)
Osteoporosis and bone biology are Dr. Khosla's research interests. His studies span the spectrum of translation — from molecular biology to epidemiology — and involve collaborations with many Mayo departments. One current study is looking at nearly 1,000 patients to investigate how bone mass and structure change with age. Another focus is on how sex hormones — testosterone and estrogen — regulate bone. Recently, his team also began looking at children and teens to study how bone changes during puberty. A large part of his research program relies on the CTSA — especially its advanced CT and DEXA scanners in the CRU, which he uses for bone imaging.
Dr. Khosla's time is divided between basic science research, clinical research and patient care. On any given day, he may spend the morning in his lab — then walk across the street and see patients in the afternoon. "Being able to move knowledge back and forth from the lab to the patient is what excites me the most," says Dr. Khosla.
Inpatient CRU resources
Dr. Khosla became the director of the Saint Marys CRU in 2009. He says that some studies are only feasible at Mayo because of this inpatient CRU, which provides a controlled environment with a focus on volunteer safety. For example, the inpatient CRU has resources to carry out intensive metabolic studies, such as those that require strict timing of infusions, measurements or blood draws. Saint Marys also has other specialized resources available to investigators, including a metabolic kitchen and core laboratories concentrating on body composition, sleep, exercise and metabolomics.
"State-of-the-art clinical research would not be possible at Mayo without the inpatient and outpatient CRUs," says Dr. Khosla. "Having trained and seen the research resources available elsewhere, I feel that Mayo is the premier institution in the country for clinical and translational research."