Fabienne C. Fiesel, Ph.D.

Fabienne C. Fiesel, Ph.D., received a Center for Individualized Medicine Gerstner Family Career Development Award in 2018.
  • Associate Consultant I, Department of Neuroscience, Florida
  • Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science
  • Area of research: Neuroscience

What sparked your interest in individualized medicine?

Through our previous work on the genes PINK1 and PRKN, my colleagues and I have learned that individual variants in these genes can lead to very different cellular outcomes. Therefore, I think it is very important to analyze causes of disease not only on the gene level but also on the variant level.

If we want to stop or even prevent disease, we will need to identify the exact and individual cause. The field of cancer research has had much success with this approach, and it is time to transfer similar approaches to other fields, such as neurodegenerative disorders.

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

My work focuses on a stress-induced mitochondrial quality control pathway that is especially important in Parkinson's disease but might also play a role in other diseases. I am using a collection of skin cells from patients with Parkinson's disease to find biomarkers for the failure of this neuroprotective pathway. My team will then analyze the biomarker in other patient cohorts and samples.

How will your research improve patient care?

When biomedical researchers think about individualized medicine, we think about applying targeted therapeutics to patients. But we only have a chance to discover successful therapeutics if we enroll the right patients for the clinical trials. Biomarker discovery studies at Mayo Clinic and elsewhere are very important to stratify patients for clinical trials that can most successfully develop individualized medicine approaches.

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

The Gerstner Award has provided me with the financial freedom to focus on my own research and pursue this and other exciting projects.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to explore research?

Mayo Clinic offers a very unique collaborative environment with numerous interactions between clinicians and basic science researchers. This allows me to include patient samples in my research, which increases the disease relevance and ultimately the impact of the research projects.