Annie M. Rusk, M.D.

  • Senior Associate Consultant, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
  • Research biography
  • Dr. Rusk previously participated in the Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars Program with a one-year trainee award.

What moment or experience in your life influenced your decision to be a clinician?

When I went to the Association of American Indian Physicians conference in college. I had never met a Native doctor before, and I realized how needed physicians are for Native people.

What motivated you to become a Kern Health Care Delivery Scholar?

I wanted to seek mentors across multiple types of clinical practice with diverse training backgrounds, specialties and experiences to improve health care in a tangible way for patients.

What is your focus and goal as a scholar within the Mayo Clinic Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery?

My focus is to address smoking and respiratory disease disparities among Native people. I plan to create tools that can be used in many clinical environments with variable resources.

Tell us about your mentoring team.

My mentoring team includes seasoned researchers in health equity and respiratory health who have funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). My primary mentor is Victor E. Ortega, M.D., Ph.D., a national figure in pulmonary equity with a successful track record of mentorship for recipients of the NIH's Research Career Development Awards, also called K awards.

I am being mentored by Jon C. Tilburt, M.D., and Donald W. Northfelt, M.D., who are connected with Tribes in the Phoenix-Scottsdale region in Arizona. They collaborate on a variety of research efforts, including diversifying clinical trial enrollment and creating tools to improve health care for Native people.

My longtime mentor, Cassie C. Kennedy, M.D., has been a tireless advocate and sponsor of my career and remains a member of my research team, offering expertise in qualitative methodologies.

How will your research transform or improve patient care or affect public health?

I am creating evidence-based tools for bedside clinicians to support Native people in quitting smoking. Smoking among Indigenous North Americans remains a significant disparity, contributing to adverse health outcomes including cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, adverse maternal and fetal outcomes, and cancer risk.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to pursue your career?

The opportunity to develop tools to improve health equity with the international footprint and influence of Mayo Clinic drew me to join the staff. I enjoy the collegial work environment Mayo Clinic offers and the dedication to providing excellent patient care.

Tell us three words that describe you.

Passionate, steadfast, detail-oriented.

Outside of work, what is one thing you like to do?

I love being active with my kids, such as jogging with the kids in the stroller, going for hikes and biking.