Madiha Iqbal, M.B.B.S., M.D.

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

The subject of biology and the intricate biological systems that operate with great precision in the human body fascinated me early on. I later became increasingly interested in the interaction of human biological systems with the environment and the pathophysiology of diseases. This naturally guided me to medicine as my career choice.

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

The field of oncology has rapidly advanced in the last decade and continues to do so. Simultaneously, we have had great advances in technology that are changing the way we deliver health care today.

The Mayo Clinic Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery is uniquely positioned with its resources and expertise in health care delivery. The Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars Program offers a unique opportunity to research, implement and combine innovative methods in medical science and technology, with the singular goal of improving patient-centered outcomes.

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

Patients with severe autoimmune diseases experience significant morbidity and adverse effects on quality of life. Bone marrow transplant is a procedure that can halt disease progression and restore quality of life but is limited by procedure-related toxicity and the requirement of prolonged hospitalization.

The focus of my project is to study an innovative practice in the administration of bone marrow transplant that will decrease procedure-related toxicity and its effect on quality of life. My goal is to extend the benefits of bone marrow transplant in severe autoimmune diseases to more patients and to be able to interrupt the natural course of autoimmune diseases.

Tell us about your mentoring team.

I am fortunate to have team of mentors who are experts in the field of bone marrow transplantation, innovative health care delivery methods and palliative medicine.

My primary mentor for this program is Ernesto Ayala, M.D. Dr. Ayala is nationally and internationally recognized in the field of bone marrow transplant. His clinical and research career extends over two decades. His areas of expertise include:

  • Outcomes research.
  • Systematic reviews.
  • Development of prospective studies that evaluate novel methods to decrease toxicities associated with bone marrow transplant.

Dr. Ayala has been primarily responsible for initiating and leading current efforts of bone marrow transplantation in patients with autoimmune diseases at Mayo Clinic. I have shared a mentor-mentee relationship with him since the beginning of my fellowship training.

My co-mentors include:

  • Mohamed A. Kharfan Dabaja, M.D., M.B.A., is the director of blood and marrow transplantation and cellular therapies at Mayo Clinic in Florida and is a highly recognized expert in the field. He has been my primary mentor since the beginning of my fellowship. Dr. Kharfan Dabaja has been leading the efforts in extending the innovative health care delivery model of Advanced Care at Home for patients undergoing bone marrow transplant for various disease indications.
  • Richard C. Taylor, M.D., is an oncologist with special expertise in palliative medicine and an interest in quality-of-care assessments. He has provided guidance for the proposed project regarding quality-of-life measurements and other relevant metrics. In his clinic, Dr. Taylor routinely evaluates patients who are undergoing bone marrow transplant for autoimmune diseases and other indications.
  • Roxana S. Dronca, M.D., is the chair of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Mayo Clinic in Florida and serves as director of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center in Florida. Dr. Dronca is currently leading the efforts of setting up the Mayo Clinic Cancer Care Beyond Walls Program, a new model of cancer care delivery integrating digital technology to improve patient outcomes.

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

By making bone marrow transplantation safer and more accessible to patients with severe autoimmune diseases, I believe it is possible to significantly affect the natural course of the disease. Autoimmune disease is marked by ongoing damage to internal organs and the requirement of lifelong immune suppressive medications. Improving outcomes in this way also will limit the associated economic burden associated with the ongoing requirement of immune suppressive medications and their side effects.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to pursue your career?

I had the privilege of completing my fellowship training at Mayo Clinic and thereafter joined the faculty. Mayo Clinic stands by its three shields of education, research and practice, but what makes Mayo Clinic stand apart is that all three shields converge to the singular focus of patient-centered care. This is what makes all aspects of my work highly rewarding and is my main reason for choosing to stay at Mayo Clinic.

Tell us three words that describe you.

Thoughtful, hardworking, resilient.

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