Elena Myasoedova, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Senior Associate Consultant, Division of Rheumatology
  • Associate Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science
  • Area of research: Rheumatoid arthritis and response to anti-rheumatic treatments

What sparked your interest in individualized medicine?

In my everyday clinical practice, patients frequently ask questions such as, "What medication will be most helpful for me?" and "What will be the next best medication if this one doesn't help?" While we know the answers to these questions in terms of likelihood of each outcome in a population of patients, we don't have tools to give an individualized prediction for each patient.

I was attracted to the idea of being able to develop an individualized prediction of a patient's response to anti-rheumatic medications, and this has sparked my interest in individualized medicine. Such a prediction tool will be useful for patients and clinicians in directing treatment beyond the current trial-and-error approach, and will allow for early initiation of effective treatment, avoiding unnecessary cost and risk of potential side effects or ineffective medicines.

What is your focus as a Gerstner Family Career Development Award recipient?

My focus is on using clinical and pharmacogenomics markers and artificial intelligence methods to develop an individualized prediction of response to treatment with one of the most commonly used first-choice medications, methotrexate (Trexall), in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis and validating this prediction in an independent cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

How will your research improve patient care?

Predicting response to methotrexate using baseline data will facilitate timely identification of those patients who are most likely to benefit from this treatment and those who are less likely to respond to it and will require different medications.

Individualized choice of medication is very different from the trial-and-error approach that is currently used for patients with rheumatoid. It is expected to help more patients achieve remission and help clinicians tailor the right medication for the right patient at the right time. However, much more research is needed before this knowledge can be implemented for clinical use.

How has the Gerstner Family Career Development Award helped advance your research?

Support from the Gerstner family has been instrumental in providing me with protected time for research and enabling collaboration with experts in pharmacogenomics and individualized medicine from the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine. The results of my research have been presented at national and international annual meetings of the American College of Rheumatology, the European League Against Rheumatism and the Karolinska Institutet.

The research I've completed through the Gerstner Family Career Development Award has provided the background to develop and submit a proposal to the Rheumatology Research Foundation, expanding the idea of this project to address pharmacogenomics of various anti-rheumatic medications in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to explore research?

Mayo Clinic has unparalleled resources for clinical, epidemiologic and translational research, which attracted me to come here as a Fulbright scholar in 2008. Combined with its excellence in patient care as the No. 1 hospital in the nation, this institution creates a nurturing and stimulating environment for clinical and research career development and cultivates a rewarding professional experience for me as a physician.

Mayo Clinic capitalizes on teamwork and collaboration in clinical care and research, with the patient being the top priority. This aligns with my understanding of an ideal work environment.