Hallbera Gudmundsdottir, M.D.

  • Surgical Outcomes Research Fellow, 2021-2022
  • General Surgery Resident

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

I worked as a patient care assistant in a nursing home for several years during school and found that I enjoyed working with people and in the health care setting in general. I entered medical school thinking I would go into medical oncology but ended up finding a passion for surgery instead.

What motivated you to become a Surgical Outcomes Research fellow?

In my future career, I hope to combine clinical medicine and research, and I believe that the Surgical Outcomes Research Fellowship provides the perfect opportunity to prepare for a career in academic surgery. The program provides mentorship and training in surgical outcomes research and flexibility to collaborate with clinical mentors in whatever surgical field you're interested in.

What is your focus as a scholar within the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery?

My team's research focuses on improving the prognostication and management of patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, which form in the hormone-making cells of the pancreas, and neuroendocrine tumor liver metastases, which occur when that cancer spreads to the liver.

Specifically, we are investigating how to optimally use novel biomarkers to help guide management decisions and post-surgical surveillance strategies in patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. We are also investigating the surgical outcomes of patients with locally advanced pancreatic tumors and those in whom the disease has metastasized to the liver.

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

As with many rare diseases, there is a lack of studies focusing specifically on patients with neuroendocrine tumors, and the unique behavior of the disease means that data on other malignancies cannot be extrapolated to these patients. My team's research on the use of novel biomarkers will help clinicians determine which patients with pancreatic cancer can be observed and which patients need surgical resection.

Furthermore, our research on the outcomes of patients undergoing surgery for locally advanced pancreatic tumors and neuroendocrine liver metastases will provide surgeons with the information necessary to determine which patients will benefit from surgery and which patients would be better managed with nonoperative strategies.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to pursue your career?

Mayo Clinic is a wonderful place to train. The strong focus on education and the volume and breadth of operations performed here makes for excellent surgical training. The resources and support available for those trainees interested in pursuing research along with their clinical training are unparalleled.