Karen Hedin, Ph.D.

The culture here at Mayo Clinic is sincerely focused on our patients and everything really comes back to that, even in the research realm. Our leaders understand that if you want to have a big impact you have to have the best — the best people, equipment and facilities. They realize that cutting corners is not going to give them the world-class medicine that is their goal. There is definitely a correspondence between Mayo Clinic's philosophy and my own. That's one reason I love to work here.

One part of my work I enjoy is my involvement in two National Institute of Health (NIH) grants that help underrepresented minorities gain a foothold in scientific research. The lack of African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans in the research arena has hampered the medical world's ability to understand and treat diseases in minority communities. I work to identify underrepresented minority candidates, looking for individuals with bachelor's degrees who are interested in medical research; and bringing them to Mayo Clinic for an intensive one- to two- year program that is designed to help them achieve their goal of obtaining a Ph.D. from a top graduate school.

While they are here they take graduate- level classes, get help in prepping for the standardized tests, and gain real-world experience by conducting research in Mayo laboratories. They grow tremendously and often go on to successful careers in research or medicine. I am really proud of all of our students and I am thankful that I have had a chance to get to know them.

Dr. Hedin says one of her favorite aspects of living in Rochester is that the "business of life" is easy, which enables her to focus on the things that she loves — her kids and her work. Aside from her work with underrepresented minority students, Dr. Hedin runs several NIH- funded projects in her laboratory, teaches graduate and medical school classes, and mentors research students.

Dec. 07, 2011