Board Member, Executive Committee
(originally published in 2014)
Dean, Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Mayo Clinic in Rochester
“Mayo Clinic has provided a wonderful and supportive environment for my wide range of research interests and has allowed me to expand my work into collaborations with clinicians.”
- Postdoctoral Fellowship: California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
- Graduate Degree: Ph.D., Molecular Biology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Undergraduate Degree: University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Native of: Madison, Wisconsin
Why did you decide to pursue research?
I had considered an M.D./Ph.D. program but grew to understand that the entrepreneurial life of a basic Ph.D. research scientist best fit my personality.
How does Mayo Clinic influence your research?
I direct a basic science research lab. Mayo Clinic has provided a wonderful and supportive environment for my wide range of research interests and has allowed me to expand my work into collaborations with clinicians. It also has allowed me to grow my passions for mentoring biomedical research scientists during their Ph.D. training — the focus of Mayo Clinic Graduate School.
My research interests are: How are very long DNA molecules folded and packaged inside cells? Can we make new kinds of drugs using RNA molecules? How is cancer caused by defects in sugar digestion?
What valuable lesson did you learn at Mayo Clinic?
Long-term success at Mayo Clinic often involves the ability to develop alliances and motivate teams.
How do you contribute to the Mayo Clinic Alumni Association?
Charlie Mayo stated that “the chief goals of medical education are to heal the sick and advance the science.” My intended contribution is to familiarize the Alumni Association with how that second goal is totally dependent on research scientists and the training of Ph.D. students at Mayo Clinic.
What do you do in your spare time?
I spend time with my wife of 30 years, Laura (Mayo Clinic Cancer Education Program), and two grown daughters in Minneapolis. I am an avid bassist in the community and serve the Autumn Ridge Church congregation in Rochester. I am the proud owner of a pet rabbit and two miniature dachshunds.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I have been a malignant paraganglioma patient for 35 years. Being a Mayo Clinic patient for part of that time has influenced my research laboratory projects.
I am know at Mayo Clinic Graduate School for my quote: “History teaches us that most of the breakthroughs that propel revolutions in medicine come through the work of curious people studying problems seemingly unrelated to human health.”