Mark D. Tyson II, M.D.

  • Senior Associate Consultant, Department of Urology
  • Assistant Professor of Urology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science

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

When I was an undergraduate, I volunteered in a cancer center after the death of a loved one. I did not anticipate becoming a physician, but through that experience, I began to observe the incredibly profound impact that physicians had on patients and their families.

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

This is truly a unique opportunity available to early-career investigators at Mayo Clinic. This early period is so critical to establishing a track record, and I knew that the protected research time and resources made possible by this scholarship would be instrumental in my development into an independent surgeon-scientist.

The center's focus on career development leverages many different institutional strengths at Mayo Clinic, positioning its scholars to successfully compete for federal research funding in an increasingly competitive environment. Frankly, none of this would be possible with a busy surgical calendar, making this scholarship the bridge between my existing surgical expertise and where I want to be in 10 years as an academic urologist.

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

As I've transitioned into my first faculty position as assistant professor of urology at Mayo Clinic's campus in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, my academic interests have primarily focused on quality-of-life outcomes in people with bladder cancer.

Bladder cancer treatments are associated with detrimental effects on patients' well-being, such as loss of functional independence, urinary and sexual function, and social and emotional health. However, unlike the literature for other malignancies such as breast or prostate cancer, high-quality studies evaluating the effects of bladder cancer treatments on quality of life are notably lacking.

In five to 10 years, my goal is to be an independently funded investigator producing meaningful research in this space. Ideally, I will have secured external funding for a national prospective observational cohort study comparing the effectiveness of bladder cancer treatments on quality-of-life endpoints.

My planned research during my period as a Kern Health Care Delivery Scholar will not only serve as the foundation for this national multicenter quality-of-life registry but will also provide preliminary data for the extramural grants to fund future iterations of this concept.

Tell us about your mentoring team.

This award allows me to work with a unique team of individuals who bring different yet complementary skills to my proposed research and career development plans.

David A. Etzioni, M.D., is the chair of both the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery and the Surgical and Procedural Committee at Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona. He has an established history as a successful health sciences research-oriented surgeon-scientist who has mentored many successful investigators, including previous Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars.

While Dr. Etzioni is not a content expert in bladder cancer, his expertise in analytic methods and study design is invaluable to me as a junior investigator and broadens the impact of my research.

I also have an external mentor, David F. Penson, M.D., M.P.H. He is the chair of the Department of Urologic Surgery and director of the Center for Surgical Quality and Outcomes Research at Vanderbilt University. He is the principal investigator of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute's CEASAR study. Further, he has an established history as an independently funded surgeon-scientist who has mentored many successful investigators, including Dr. Etzioni.

As an international authority on patient reported outcomes, Dr. Penson has a unique perspective on the implications of my proposed work, and furthermore has significant content expertise in bladder cancer. I have worked closely with Dr. Penson since 2015, and we regularly review scientific ideas and discuss approaches for grant writing, career development and future scientific inquiry.

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

My research in the Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars Program will provide evidence-informed and patient-centered health care by generating new knowledge to help informed decision-making for patients with localized muscle-invasive bladder cancer. It will also increase the value of care provided to patients with bladder cancer across the U.S. by establishing a prospective registry for the purposes of comparative effectiveness research.

Ideally, my research will meet the following goals:

  • Fill important evidence gaps by comparing treatments for bladder cancer in a head-to-head fashion, thereby generating information patients can use to help decide which treatment fits them best
  • Allow for real-world comparisons of the effectiveness of modern approaches to surgery and radiation, such as robotic cystectomy and radiosensitizing chemotherapy
  • Include comprehensive patient-related, tumor-related and treatment-related decision-making characteristics that will allow for proper risk adjustment and identification of subsets of patients who respond differently to certain treatments
  • Estimate treatment effects using a single prospective study design and state-of-the-art confounding control methods

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to pursue your career?

I trained at Mayo Clinic's campus in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, and had the opportunity to come back as a Mayo Foundation Scholar after completing my clinical postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University. This was an incredible opportunity to work for an organization that has a world-renowned brand, with vast clinical and academic resources that enrich the faculty experience. I am very grateful, and frankly very lucky, so I want to be a good steward of this opportunity.