April 25, 2017

Energizing precision medicine researchers of the future

By Sharon Rosen

The winning team from Northwestern Health Sciences University includes (from left to right) Rupinder Kaur, Jagneet Kaur, Kaitlin Chrastek and Salar Kadhium.

Engage. Inspire. Mentor. This is part of our mission at Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine. We want to energize and train future leaders in precision medicine research and patient care. That’s why our faculty joined other Mayo Clinic researchers in the Innovative Minds Partnering to Advance Curative Therapies (IMPACT) symposium held March 18 on Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester, Minnesota. The IMPACT program brought together 240 undergraduate students from 23 Minnesota universities and colleges to present their creative solutions to questions about critical healthcare needs.


Students search for clues about pancreatic cancer


This year 35 of the 73 student teams competed on the question: How do obesity and type 2 diabetes increase the risk for pancreatic cancer?  Pancreatic cancer is a fast growing cancer that is often not detected until it has spread to other organs in the body. Identifying factors that lead to an increased risk of this often deadly disease may lead to better screening to prevent or detect the pancreatic cancer when it can be more easily treated.


Six teams presented their research proposals to a panel of Center for Individualized Medicine judges. The winning team from Northwestern Health Sciences University (Kaitlin Chrastek, Salar Kadhium, Jagneet Kaur and Rupinder Kaur) presented their hypothesis: Type II diabetes and obesity increase the risk of pancreatic cancer due to elevated levels of leptin that upregulate various pathways including Notch, EGFR, and KRAS. Each team member won a $1,000 award from the IMPACT program. In addition, all team members secured spots as summer interns in Center for Individualized Medicine laboratories this summer.


Dr. Katherine Campbell

“This year, the challenge question on individualized medicine attracted enormous interest from students. Each of the teams demonstrated new insights, creativity and drive as they explored underlying factors that lead to pancreatic cancer. It was exciting to watch them present and discuss their ideas with Center for Individualized Medicine faculty and other undergraduate students from across the state. It’s scientific interactions like these at the IMPACT symposium that we hope motivate students to continue on the path of biomedical discovery and ultimately play a role in improving care for patients,” says Katie Campbell, Ph.D., founder and director of the IMPACT program.




Sharing the promise of precision medicine


Dr. Matthew Ferber speaks to students at the IMPACT Symposium.

During the IMPACT symposium, Mayo researchers shared the promise of genomic medicine with students. Matthew Ferber, Ph.D., delivered the Center for Individualized Medicine keynote address, Integrating Individualized Medicine into Modern Medical Practice.


Other Center faculty and researchers served as judges for the oral presentations and poster sessions, including Tamas Ordog, M.D., Keith Robertson, Ph.D., Shounak Majumder, M.D., and Jeong-Heon Lee, Ph.D.


As Carolyn Rohrer Vitek, education operations manager for Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, explains, the program offers students a valuable educational opportunity.


Carolyn Rohrer Vitek

“The IMPACT program is a great way to inspire the next generation of physicians and scientists to aim high and be a part of scientific discovery. By exposing aspiring physicians and researchers to the fast paced field of genomics, they can learn first-hand about the potential to apply genomic medicine technologies to greater understanding that leads to better diagnosis, treatment, prediction and prevention for many conditions,” says Rohrer Vitek.






Attend the 2017 Individualizing Medicine Conference


Hear world-renowned experts discuss the latest research in precision medicine and how it can be applied to improve treatments for many conditions at Individualizing Medicine 2017: Advancing Care Through Genomics.

The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, with support from the Jackson Family Foundation, is hosting the sixth annual genomics conference, October 9–10, in Rochester, Minnesota.


Join our community


Follow the latest news related to the conference on the Center for Individualized Medicine blogFacebookLinkedIn or Twitter at @MayoClinicCIM and use the hashtag #CIMCon17.



Tags: #Carolyn Rohrer Vitek, #Dr. Katherine Campbell, #IMPACT Symposium, #Northwestern Health Sciences University, center for individualized medicine, Dr. Matthew Ferber, individualized medicine, mayo clinic, Pancreatic Cancer, Precision Medicine

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