Current Initiatives

Research

Mayo Clinic researchers work closely with the Department of Defense and military leadership, contributing significantly to the medical and technological support of active duty personnel, veterans and wounded warriors.

Examples of Mayo Clinic's tradition of service to the military through research include:

  • Vaccine Research Group and Program in Translational Immunovirology and Biodefense. Founded by Gregory A. Poland, M.D., of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., the Vaccine Research Group and Program in Translational Immunovirology and Biodefense teams have worked extensively with the Defense Health Board to advise the secretary of defense on all scientific and medical matters related to military readiness, particularly medical matters that had immobilized great armies throughout history.

    For his work, Dr. Poland was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service — the highest civilian medal the department can award.

    The work of Dr. Poland and his team includes:

    • Calibrating the immunization schedules across all the armed forces
    • Working with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to design countermeasures for all biological warfare threats
    • Creating a special subcommittee for pandemic influenza preparedness — successfully making the recent pandemic a relative nonevent for our military
    • Conducting the largest clinical trial to date of anthrax vaccination and smallpox vaccination
    • Redesigning the national medical center
    • Consulting on treatment paradigms for troops exposed to pollutants and chemicals in Iraq or Afghanistan
    • Creating boards with major emphasis on psychological health and well-being related to post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury from improvised explosive devices
  • Regenerating nerve cells for wounded veterans. A team of Mayo Clinic researchers is part of a national consortium aimed at restoring mobility to severely injured American combat veterans. Led by orthopedic surgeon and biomedical engineer Michael J. Yaszemski, M.D., Ph.D., and neurologist and molecular neuroscientist Anthony J. Windebank, M.D., both of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and in collaboration with the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, the group is using several Mayo Clinic innovations and looking at special growth factors, polymers and stem cells to reconnect and restore feeling to the nervous system.

    The collaborative team is seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration and the Mayo Clinic Institutional Review Board for human clinical trials.

  • MRI brain scanners. June 2011 saw the partnering of Mayo Clinic and General Electric with a five-year, $5.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. This partnership will jointly conduct research to understand design and application issues involved in using a dedicated MRI brain scanner to image for a range of neurological and psychiatric disorders that affect our war veterans and civilians.

  • Using homemade supercomputers to develop pathogen countermeasures. Yuan-Ping Pang, Ph.D., of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and his team built a single-user, 3.8-teraflop supercomputer and other technologies for just-in-time drug discovery with applications to the development of pathogen countermeasures and anti-cancer drugs.

    Their efforts have already culminated in drug candidates with in vivo efficacy of post-exposure protection of vertebrates against botulinum neurotoxin serotype A. Dr. Pang's research is funded primarily by the Department of Defense, the Army and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is the principal research and development arm for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

  • Aerospace Medicine Fellowship. In the Aerospace Medicine Fellowship at Mayo Clinic, the only program of its kind in the U.S., Mayo aerospace researchers continue advancing various projects applicable to high-altitude aviation and space exploration.

Practice

Examples of Mayo Clinic's tradition of service to the military through patient care include:

  • Motion training for war-wounded amputees. Kenton R. Kaufman, Ph.D., of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and director of Mayo's Motion Analysis Laboratory, leads the way in bringing evidence-based rehabilitative care to soldiers with musculoskeletal injuries. In the lab, the Improved Training Method for Rapid Rehabilitation of Lower Extremity Amputees project is specifically aimed at lower extremity amputee soldiers.

    With a $2.4 million grant from the Department of Defense, the project teaches amputee soldiers how to improve gait, rapidly recover, practice stumble-recovery strategies and improve the fall hazard.

  • Public health in postwar Iraq. Army Reserve Col. John Logan Black, M.D., a psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., has been instrumental in leading a team with a mission of re-establishing Iraq's ministry of health, including assessing the Iraqi health care system and coordinating relief efforts to get the country's hospitals operational, including training the local physicians as needed.
  • Recovery of Army Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler. After Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler was critically injured in the shooting at Fort Hood in 2009, it was predicted that he would not survive. After months of care and intense rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic, Staff Sgt. Zeigler healed and returned to Texas to continue his service to this country.
  • Mayo Clinic Hand Transplant Program. Mayo Clinic started the first nonexperimental Hand Transplant Program in the U.S. to assist wounded military and trauma patients. Co-directed by Steven L. Moran, M.D., a plastic surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., the program is a collaborative effort that includes specialists in hand surgery, microsurgery, transplantation medicine, immunology, transplant infectious diseases, dermatology, pathology, radiology and rehabilitation.
  • Reducing suicide rates in the military. As part of the Intergovernmental Personnel Assistance program, Timothy W. Lineberry, M.D., a psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is developing a program to address opportunities related to treatment variables for depressed military personnel and suicide prevention.

Education

Examples of Mayo Clinic's tradition of service to the military through education include:

  • Simulation Center medical readiness training. The Mayo Clinic Multidisciplinary Simulation Center has created the course "Medical Readiness Training for Combat Zones," directed by Walter B. Franz III, M.D., a physician at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a colonel in the Army Reserve.

    This four-day training course, in which soon-to-be-deployed military medical personnel at all levels are vetted, trained and prepared for medical duty in combat zones, is the first of its kind and considered a leading military medical training course by the Army. In addition, this training course translates into an institutional response for disasters and humanitarian efforts.

  • 'Theater of War' presentation. The Mayo Clinic Center for Humanities in Medicine focused on veterans and their families in a presentation called "Theater of War," which used ancient Greek characters to examine the impact of war on service members, their families and caregivers, and the community.
  • Military Health System Fellowship Program. In 2009, Mayo Clinic leaders met with members of the Department of Defense Military Health System to share information and provide open discussion on Mayo's leadership, culture, clinical and administrative processes, and infrastructure.

Support of Mayo Clinic employees in the U.S. military

Mayo Clinic physicians, nurses, administrators and allied health staff have served in active and reserve duty in all branches of the U.S. military throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. To date, approximately 900 Mayo Clinic employees claim veteran status, and at any given time, approximately 15 employees are out on scheduled military leave.

Mayo Clinic allows employees extended time away from work for military duty. Upon completion of military service, the employee is granted the work assignment and schedule from which he or she left, provided the employee is able to perform the job assignment with reasonable accommodations. If the exact position is no longer available, the employee is offered a similar position based on his or her knowledge, skills and abilities.

In addition, employees' benefits are protected to ensure continuity of their pensions; life insurance; medical, dental and vision coverage; paid time off; and more. If employees are involved in a presidential call-up, Mayo Clinic will augment military base pay to current Mayo Clinic base pay for 90 calendar days. After 90 calendar days, Mayo Clinic augments salary to 75 percent of current pay for up to 275 calendar days.

As a way to give back to those who have given so much through their service to our country, Mayo Clinic formed a Veterans Mayo Employee Resource Group to support Mayo Clinic employees who are veterans and their families.