Kelly M. Pennington, M.D.

  • Resident, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
  • Assistant Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science

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

I have always wanted to help people and make a positive difference in their lives. As a clinician, I am privileged to be able to care for, listen to and learn from patients and their families every day. Additionally, clinical medicine provides an unparalleled opportunity to be a scientist, an educator and a learner.

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

The mentorship that is offered within the center! I have been interested in the science of health care delivery since medical school. The Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars Program provides the necessary foundation for me to develop the next phase of my career as a clinician-researcher.

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

My passion is the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary infections in people with compromised immune systems. During the program, I am focusing on preventing invasive fungal infections in patients receiving lung transplants. Through my research, I hope to gain insight into the optimal antifungal prophylactic regimen for people receiving lung transplants to minimize morbidity and mortality from both fungal infections and drug toxicities.

Tell us about your mentoring team.

Cassie C. Kennedy, M.D., a transplant pulmonologist and Kern Scholar from 2015 to 2018, is my primary clinical and research mentor. Her research focuses on health care for patients receiving thoracic transplants, particularly in optimization of pretransplant risks and improving transplant outcomes.

Raymund R. Razonable, M.D., a transplant infectious disease specialist, is serving as an additional research mentor to provide support and expertise in post-transplant fungal infections.

My mentor team also consists of experts from the Mayo Clinic Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery faculty, including Kathleen J. Yost, Ph.D., M. Hassan Murad, M.D., and Nilay D. Shah, Ph.D., who are providing expertise in specific research methodologies.

How will your research improve patient care or impact public health?

Currently, antifungal prophylaxis after lung transplant depends on the institution, the health care provider or both, as no standard of care or guideline exists. Additionally, invasive fungal infections are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in people receiving lung transplants. Unfortunately, antifungal medications have significant toxicities and are expensive for patients.

Through my research, I hope to gain insight into the optimal type and duration of antifungal prophylaxis after lung transplants to minimize fungal infections and medication toxicity.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to pursue your career?

I chose Mayo Clinic to pursue my career because of the focus on patient-centered care that transcends the clinical practice, education curriculum and research practice. Also, my colleagues and mentors make learning, researching and practicing medicine fun and exciting!