Alumna Jill Barnes, Ph.D. helps her grad student get settled at Mayo — for cancer treatment and lab experience
As a Mayo Clinic alumna, Jill Barnes, Ph.D. (ANES ’13), is frequently approached by people wanting to know more about Mayo Clinic — what it’s like and how to access care. Dr. Barnes is an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“I know how wonderful the care is at Mayo, and I want to help them whenever I can,” she says. “As an alum, I feel like I have a little bit of an inside edge and call colleagues from Mayo for advice on where to direct potential patients with specific questions.”
Dr. Barnes was glad to have that “in” when someone in her small lab needed a referral. Her graduate student Nicole Eisenmann was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma in November. She had her tumor removed at the UW hospital. The hospital’s sarcoma board recommended proton beam therapy. When Eisenmann shared that information with Dr. Barnes, she strongly encouraged her to seek a consultation at Mayo Clinic and made some calls on her behalf.
“I’m in the first year of my master’s program at UW, so Dr. Barnes and I hadn’t known each other for very long. It was great that she went out of her way to help me,” says Eisenmann, who began seven weeks of treatment in Rochester in February.
Dr. Barnes was just getting started. “Being gone for a couple of months meant Nicole would miss a lot of lab time,” she says. “I contacted my former colleagues at Mayo to see if they’d let her participate in their lab activities during her time at Mayo. They were happy to help.”
Dr. Barnes arranged for Eisenmann to observe research studies in the lab of Michael Joyner, M.D. (ANES ’92), and attend journal club meetings and research presentations. To make sure everything was in place to ensure Eisenmann’s success, Dr. Barnes traveled from Madison to Rochester. She introduced Eisenmann to her former Mayo lab mates and brought along two of the others from her current UW lab.
“They were all happy to meet my friends at Mayo and see Nicole settled in her temporary home,” says Dr. Barnes. “My lab collaborates with Mayo on some research, so it was nice for everyone to meet face to face.”
Eisenmann says she’s glad to be busy during her time at Mayo Clinic and grateful for the opportunity to see the inner workings of a Mayo lab. “They’ve been very welcoming to me.
“It was neat to see Dr. Barnes at her old stomping ground. She has great relationships with her previous co-workers and mentors. I like meeting the people who have influenced her. She even gave me recommendations for restaurants and things to do in Rochester. That’s just the type of person she is — very caring.”
After her proton beam therapy at Mayo Clinic, Eisenmann will return to Madison for chemotherapy.
“I was overwhelmed at first after my diagnosis, but I have a lot of support here at Mayo and at UW,” she says. “Mayo surpassed my expectations. My outlook looks pretty good.”