Mayo Clinic Special Research Student Appointment

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The Mayo Clinic Special Research Student appointment is intended to provide a meaningful research experience to students considering a career in biomedical research and to expose them to the educational opportunities at Mayo for prospective candidates to the biomedical sciences Ph.D. and M.D.-Ph.D. programs. This appointment will offer on-going research opportunities for independent study course credit to students considering a career in biomedical research. Mayo Clinic investigators will also obtain first-hand knowledge about potential Mayo Graduate School candidates before they apply. 

Learn more about the Mayo faculty that are participating in the spring 2020 program. 

    Research Interest
Leif Bergsagel Leif Bergsagel, M.D. Leif Bergsagel, M.D., studies the molecular pathogenesis of multiple myeloma, a tumor of mature, isotype-switched plasma cells. It is a uniformly fatal malignancy that is frequently preceded by a common (1 percent of adults), benign preclinical phase known as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). Dr. Bergsagel's laboratory is focused on understanding the molecular events that lead to the development of MGUS and its progression to multiple myeloma
Esteban Braggio Estaban Braggio, Ph.D. Esteban Braggio, Ph.D., is primarily interested in studying the genetic basis of leukemias and lymphomas that affect B cells, a specific cell type found in the blood and bone marrow. B cells are an essential component of the adaptive immune system.
Marion Curtis Marion Curtis, Ph.D. The main research focus of Marion R. Curtis, Ph.D., centers on understanding how the tumor microenvironment influences the metabolism of immune cells and how the metabolic state of immune cells may regulate cancer metastasis and response to immunotherapy. Dr. Curtis' laboratory employs a wide variety of techniques, including metabolomics, proteomics and advanced cellular imaging, applied to primary human cells and cancer models to identify mediators of immune cell metabolism and function.
Elena De Filippis Elena De Filippis, M.D., Ph.D. Elena De Filippis, M.D., Ph.D., and her laboratory focus on identifying novel molecular mechanisms and pathways altered in the metabolism of fat. In her laboratory, a translational approach is adopted by conducting research at the Clinical Study Infusion Unit, at Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona. There, in vivo methods such as the euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp technique associated with the use of stable isotope to assess insulin sensitivity are used on participants, while human fat tissue samples are collected by performing subcutaneous fat biopsies.
Amylou Dueck Amylou Dueck, Ph.D. Dr. Dueck's primary role at Mayo Clinic is designing and analyzing clinical trials in hematologic malignancies, though she additionally collaborates with investigators in neurology and other departments on studies of various designs. Focus areas:
  • Design and analysis of cancer treatment clinical trials
  • Novel endpoints in symptom management and cancer treatment clinical trials
  • Analysis and interpretation issues related to patient-reported outcomes
Clifford Folmes Clifford D. Fomes, Ph.D. Research in the laboratory of Clifford D. Folmes, Ph.D., focuses on how mitochondria and energy metabolism regulate cell fate decisions, and the molecular mechanisms by which individual metabolic pathways support stage-specific stem cell function. The lab employs a wide variety of investigative techniques, such as metabolic flux analysis and metabolomics in disease models and human cell cultures.
Yonas Geda Yonas E. Geda, M.D. Dr. Geda's research intersests include: Investigating modifiable lifestyle factors such as physical exercise, cognitively stimulating activities and daily total caloric intake; and their impact on aging and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Examining the relationship between emotional behavior, aging and MCI; with particularl interest in developing an early prediction model of dementia by utilizing neuropsychiatric and modifiable life style parameters in MCI.
Joseph C.  Lofus Joseph C. Lofus, Ph.D. Joseph C. Loftus, Ph.D., studies the role of integrin-mediated adhesion and signaling in the regulation of cell migration and cell growth. The long-term goal of Dr. Loftus' research team is to develop effective therapies for the treatment of glioblastoma, which is the most common form of primary brain tumor.
SangKon Oh SangKon Oh, Ph.D. The overall research goal of the laboratory of SangKon Oh, Ph.D., is to understand how the innate immune system plays a decision-making role in orchestrating the strength, quality and persistence of antigen-specific T and B cell responses. This fundamental question can be addressed in the context of microbial infections, cancers and inflammatory diseases (including autoimmune diseases).
Nhan Tran Nhan L. Tran, Ph.D. The research of Nhan L. Tran, Ph.D., is focused on elucidating the cellular and biochemical mechanisms of action of candidate genes expressed in highly invasive cancer cells. Dr. Tran's lab is currently investigating several targets mediating cancer invasion and survival.
Junwen Wang Junwen Wang, Ph.D. Junwen Wang, Ph.D., develops bioinformatics tools, databases and algorithms to analyze biomedical big data, to annotate genetic variants and to construct gene regulatory networks. Dr. Wang is actively collaborating with biologists and clinicians to apply these methodologies to specific diseases for research and clinical treatments. He is currently focusing his research on lung, breast, brain and colon cancers.

Position Description

  • Students will have appointments during the academic year.
  • No stipend is associated with this appointment, as the students receive credit for their participation (HON 498)
  • Students will collaborate with a Mayo Clinic investigator on a research project. In some cases, the research project may evolve into the honors thesis project, if approved by the thesis chair and the Mayo Clinic investigator.

Learning Objectives

  • Demonstrate a scholarly approach to biomedical problems and a willingness to learn new skills/ techniques that are needed to solve biomedical problems.
  • Describe the critical role of basic science, clinical, epidemiological and translational research and scholarship in understanding and alleviating disease and disability from disease.
  • Describe the steps needed to identify a suitable biomedical research question, formulate a hypothesis, design a suitable experimental procedure, obtain and properly analyze data.
  • Work with a faculty mentor to analyze a research question and analyze and interpret the data collected.
  • Demonstrate command of the domain of research project and present data coherently and effectively.
  • Describe the process of preparing research materials for publication or presentation.


Exceptional Arizona State University (ASU) Barrett Honors College students are eligible for participation.

Applicants must:

  • Be in second or third year in Barrett at ASU during semester of appointment. 
  • Have a grade point average of at least a 3.3 (4.0 scale).
  • Be seeking a major relevant to the desired experience within The College, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, or the College of Health Solutions with at least 1 year of experience (recommended).
  • Be seriously considering a biomedical research career as a Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. (as opposed to practicing as a physician).
  • Be able to devote at least 10 hours per week to the research project on the Scottsdale campus at Mayo Clinic. (Three consecutive days each week with uninterrupted laboratory time of 3-4 hours each day is preferred, but not required – TBD with Mayo Clinic Investigator).
  • If planning a thesis, have an ASU faculty co-director for the thesis if the Mayo Clinic investigator does not have an academic affiliation with ASU.
  • Be able to register for HON 498 for 3 credits each semester of appointment
  • Have access to transportation to and from Mayo Clinic

Applications will be initially reviewed by Barrett, The Honors College and eligible applicants will be submitted to Mayo faculty for further review. 

Attachments must include:

  • A personal statement describing your interest in the program and career goals
  • A copy of your transcript (unofficial is acceptable)
  • One signed letter of recommendation on letterhead (from a current or previous supervisor or faculty member)

Expectations of student researchers

  • Register for 3 credits of HON 498
  • Be present for all agreed-upon hours of research work at Mayo.
  • Be familiar with all background materials in preparation for research work.
  • Complete all work (laboratory/clinical work, writing, presentations, etc.) on time and excellently.
  • Be responsive to all feedback and requests by research mentor in regard to the research experience.

Expectations of investigators

    • Be available to student researcher.
    • Offer guidance in the research work.
    • Ensure that student researcher has adequate space, materials, and access to equipment.
    • Provide mentoring to student researcher.
    • Provide an evaluation of student’s research work at end of semester (the independent study will be graded with pass/fail).

Applications for the spring 2020 are closed. 


Responsible leaders for this partnership are Vicki Hochstetler, Mayo Clinic, at and Cassandra Lee Saenz, Internship & Community Engagement Coordinator, Sr., at or 480-727-5169.