Mayo Clinic Alumni Association — Know Your Board — Cody Fisher
Provides leadership | Makes policy decisions | Decides strategic direction and vision
Cody Fisher (IMM ’23)
Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences student representative
- Graduate: Immunology track, Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
- Undergraduate: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
- Native of: Owatonna, Minnesota
I’ve always been interested in nature and figuring out how things work. From a young age, I took things apart, including old radios and TVs. In kindergarten, a teacher brought in old electronics and tools and let us take them apart to see how they worked.
At the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, I intended to explore science. I took a microbial course and felt comfortable in that realm — learning about bacteria and how they affect health and disease.
At the same time, I had the opportunity to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in La Crosse and with the same bacteriology and virology I was working with on the other side. I could see the real-world applications. My brother was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at that time, which is heavily linked to the gut microbiome. I went to appointments with him at Mayo Clinic and became more interested in human health and bacteria. That experience shifted me toward the clinical aspect of science.
Mayo has always been the place for people from my town to get healthy and get expert advice.
Why Mayo Clinic
I wanted to go to graduate school but didn’t have the clinical research background to get in initially, so I enrolled in the Mayo Clinic GREP (Graduate Research Education Program) to get the clinical research experience I needed to enter a graduate school program.
I entered the Immunology track Ph.D. program in 2018. The collegiality at Mayo is really great. You can walk down a hallway and talk to someone who is an expert and ask if they want to work on a project together or if you can use their supplies or samples.
I’m a third-year student in the Immunology track, working in the Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory of Robin Patel, M.D. (I ’92, INFD ’95, CM ’96). I am focused on studying prosthetic joint infection-associated bacterial biofilms. I combine my microbial background with my formal training in immunology to study how biofilms interact with the immune system, dampening and suppressing it to cause robust infections in the joint. I want to learn mechanisms in which we can prevent this immune suppression.
I enjoy teaching and mentoring undergraduate students whenever I can. The next step for me after getting my Ph.D. is probably a postdoctoral program. I’d like to teach undergraduates and do research in an academic setting.
I’d like to be a voice for the graduate school so I can connect current and incoming students with alumni who’ve been there and are in now using their degrees in many different career paths.
I like to get outside and walk and hike with my dog, a collie-Australian shepherd mix.
Before the pandemic, I enjoyed traveling for graduate school — going to conferences and presenting science in great places. We were supposed to go to Hawaii in May for the American Association of Immunologists conference.
I studied the bite force dynamic of alligators in my undergraduate research, which seems like an odd fit for someone in Wisconsin.
My undergraduate mentor is one of the top T-rex experts in the U.S. He taught my introduction to biology class. I went to his office to talk to him and noticed he has T-rex stuff all over his office. He invited me to his lab the next day and showed me his work, which led to my alligator research and the world of real scientific research. I learned how to make hypotheses and test them and make a research plan. This was my first experience in presenting my own research, including once at an international conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was an amazing experience.
For the record, a T-rex probably ate more like an eagle or falcon than a crocodilian. The skulls and muscles of a T-rex are more set up for them to step on prey and tear off the flesh than crush prey like a crocodilian.