Melissa Castro, Psy.D. (PSI ’13), was born in Mexico to a Native American mother and Mexican father. Her family members were agricultural workers who traveled back and forth between Mexico and British Columbia, Canada. She eventually moved cross-country to Quebec and grew up speaking English, French, and Spanish. Dr. Castro is the first in her family to pursue a graduate education. She moved to Puerto Rico for graduate school to polish up her Spanish-language skills. She completed a two-year postdoctoral neuropsychology fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where she initially felt like a “foreigner” because she didn’t come from a pedigreed background. Once she saw the rich diversity at Mayo and how committed everyone was to her advancement, she embraced the Mayo culture Today she’s in private practice in Minneapolis. She’s proud to represent her heritage in her neuropsychology — only 1% of neuropsychology practitioners are Native American.
The family of Chika Nwachukwu, M.D., Ph.D. (MED ’14), moved to the U.S. from Lagos, Nigeria, in 1998, for better educational opportunities for the family’s eight children. Dr. Nwachukwu has taken full advantage of those opportunities. She received a Ph.D. in cancer biology at the University of Chicago and a medical degree at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, and completed residency in radiation oncology at Stanford University. She’s now a gynecologic oncologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Nwachukwu is very interested in global health and is determined to share her knowledge so that people around the world have access to lifesaving cancer care.
When Lynn Fussner, M.D. (I ’13, CTSA ’15, THDC ’16), was a fellow in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Mayo Clinic, she received a Karis Award for demonstration of Mayo Clinic and Franciscan values. Now on staff at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, where she received her undergraduate and medical degrees, Dr. Fussner refers back to those values that she says blossomed at Mayo Clinic. “A large academic medical center has many moving parts, but what we really should focus on is how to take care of the patient in front of us. We should give them our full attention, and connect them with the right resources. Mayo Clinic emphasizes the importance of the patient very well and is a strong example to other institutions.”
Rachel Chevalier, M.D. (PD ’14), bounced around the country for her training — on both coasts before landing in the Midwest. She received her undergraduate degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and medical degree from West Virginia University School of Medicine, completed residency in pediatrics at Mayo Clinic and fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at the University of California, San Francisco. For the last two years she’s been at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. Dr. Chevalier describes her medical training as nomadic. “I like seeing how people at different institutions do things. I carry the best of what I experienced with me.”
Yania Lopez-Alvarez, M.D. (RADV ’17), was raised in a fisherman’s village in Puerto Rico. Her grandparents enrolled in the army to raise the family out of poverty. As a result, education became a core value in the family. Both of Dr. Lopez-Alvarez’s parents have Ph.D.s. She’s the first physician in the family, and she was educated through residency in the public education system in Puerto Rico. She went to Mayo Clinic in Arizona for two years of radiology fellowship and returned home to put her training to use. The new hospital where she’d committed to work had ordered new breast imaging technology and needed a subspecialized radiologist to operate the new equipment — the best laid plans. Two months after Dr. Lopez-Alvarez’s return, Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Many physicians left due to the hurricane and economic crisis, but Dr. Lopez-Alvarez remains rock solid in her commitment to remain in Puerto Rico and be part of the solution to improve life on the island. She says Mayo Clinic’s investment in her medical education will have significant dividends for her fellow islanders.
Growing up, Erin Garvey, M.D. (S ’16, PDS ’18), was a gymnast. Injuries pushed her to change athletic pursuits. She was a Division I springboard diver at the University of Denver, where she received the Female Scholar Athlete of the Year award in 2004 and 2005. Twice, she hit the diving board and broke her hand. Scars on her right index and middle fingers remind her why she gave up competitive athletics for a calling as a pediatric surgeon. At Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Dr. Garvey is helping to develop a colorectal practice to treat conditions including anorectal malformations, inflammatory bowel disease and Hirschsprung’s disease.
The mother of LaPrincess Brewer, M.D. (CV ’16), says she knew her daughter would be “somebody,” recalling her reading books while they walked the aisles of the grocery store. Dr. Brewer grew up in an economically challenged single-parent household with her mother as her No. 1 cheerleader. Curiosity and early exposure to science put Dr. Brewer on the path to become a chemical engineer. She received a full college scholarship through a Gates Foundation program for underrepresented minorities and worked it into a medical career. Three years out of training, she’s a preventive cardiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, leading research focused on community-based interventions for underserved, under-resourced ethnic minority groups.
Cree Kachelski, M.D. (PD ’19), was the first person in her family to go to college. She describes herself as an open book and talks frankly about being the child of recovering addicts who reach out to help others who are struggling with recovery. Dr. Kachelski overflows with gratitude for the support she received from her Mayo Clinic residency program when she experienced a divorce during residency. She used the experience to launch a well-being program for residents. Newly married, Dr. Kachelski has relocated to Kansas City for a four-year combined fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine and child abuse pediatrics. She and her husband, a Mayo Clinic resident, will be long-distance newlyweds while he completes his training. If her track record is any indication, Dr. Kachelski will triumph over the challenge of distance and emerge with lessons to share with others.
Melanie Bois, M.D. (MED ’12, PATH ’16, CPATH ’17, CPAT ‘18), grew up steeped in all things Mayo. Her father, Steven Buskirk, M.D. (RADO ’83; chair, Department of Radiation Oncology, Mayo Clinic Florida), trained at Mayo Clinic in Rochester and has been on staff at Mayo Clinic in Florida since 1987 after having practiced in Kansas. Dr. Bois was determined that medicine would not be her default career choice but says nothing else fulfilled her curiosity. She was equally determined that life with subzero temperatures wouldn’t be part of her life, but she was drawn to the Mayo mission and values she grew up with. On staff at Mayo Clinic in Rochester for less than a year, Dr. Bois is a rising star in pathology. She was recently named a Top 40 Under 40 honoree by the American Society for Clinical Pathology and named to the Top 100 Power List from The Pathologist.
Craig Lammert, M.D. (GI ’13, CTSA ’15), tries to replicate the culture he observed during fellowship at Mayo Clinic at Indiana University, where he’s a hepatologist. At Mayo Clinic, he saw how the needs of the patient were front and center, so he started a nonprofit organization, the Autoimmune Hepatitis Association, to provide education and support for patients with this rare disease. The Autoimmune Hepatitis Association holds a biennial patient education conference that serves another purpose — allowing patients to participate in Dr. Lammert’s research and provide him with samples. “The organization started as a Facebook group to connect patients with this rare disease, and we now have 1,500 members and the largest gathering of patients with the disease in North America.”
Buffalo, New York, is famous for its annual snow accumulation. Native Christopher Czaplicki, M.D. (RD ’19), has found a love for warmer climates. He attended medical school in Los Angeles and will complete a residency at Mayo Clinic in Arizona this year followed by a fellowship. He plans to return to the Golden State to practice radiology. Dr. Czaplicki hasn’t completely abandoned snow and cold: he has punctuated his education and training with mountain-climbing adventures, often accompanied by volunteer work in underserved areas.
When Linda Drozdowicz, M.D. (MED ’14), was a first-year student at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine studying around the clock for anatomy, she met with then-dean Joseph Grande, M.D., Ph.D. (PATH ’89, LABM ’91), to check in. He asked her, “What do you do for fun? You need to relax more.” At Dr. Grande’s urging, Dr. Drozdowicz, already a singer, took up the ukulele and became known as “the ukulele girl.” She says Mayo Clinic supported developing fully as a person, not just as a physician. As a result, she says Mayo Clinic is in everything she does. Dr. Drozdowicz was chief resident in psychiatry at Mount Sinai in New York City last year and is now a fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, Connecticut.
Lauren Bartholomew, M.D. (MED ’14), recently completed residency and started practicing family medicine at a community health center in her hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. Her family evacuated the city the day before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 — days before she was due to leave for college at Princeton. Raised with a consciousness for helping others, she always planned to return home to care for the underserved. She’s glad to be back in the Big Easy and is eager to make a difference in the city she loves.
Cullen O’Gorman, M.B.B.S., Ph.D. (NACF ’14, NEMG ’15), was born in Namibia to Irish parents and was raised in England. He was educated and trained in medicine in England and Australia, and completed a fellowship in clinical neurophysiology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Today he practices in Queensland, Australia, and says he’s grateful to the Department of Neurology at Mayo Clinic for the opportunity to have trained there.
Mayo Clinic was a family affair for David Kurtz, M.D., Ph.D. (MED ’09). He followed his brother to Mayo, and their sister followed them. After medical school at Mayo, Dr. Kurtz went to Stanf ord for residency, fellowship and a Ph.D. He’s focused on applying science to patient-centric translational medicine and wants to play a role in changing screening and treatment of cancer — particularly, to find cancers early to allow intervention before patients have widespread disease.
Joy Wolfram, Ph.D. (TRANM ’17), is a wunderkind. By her mid-20s she had more than 40 peer-reviewed publications. She’s had her own lab focused on nanomedicine and extracellular vesicles at Mayo Clinic in Florida since 2017. A native of Finland, Dr. Wolfram trained in several countries, including China — a leader in nanomedicine. Forbes named her to its 30 Under 30 in U.S./Canada Healthcare. Dr. Wolfram is on a mission to load nanoparticles with drugs and deliver them to cancerous or damaged areas of the body. She sees collaboration among physicians and scientists as key to ensuring any advances become translational and reach patients. She sees Mayo Clinic as the ideal environment for this to take place.
When Nithima Chaowalit Ratanasit, M.D. (CV ’04), came to Mayo Clinic in Rochester from Bangkok, Thailand, for a research fellowship in echocardiography, that specialty was new in her country. Two of her colleagues had journeyed to Mayo Clinic for echocardiography fellowships, and she followed suit. When Dr. Ratanasit returned to Bangkok, her hospital had two echocardiography machines. Today it has almost 20, a larger echo lab and five cardiologists specializing in echo. Since her time in Rochester, Dr. Ratanasit wrote the first textbook about stress echocardiography published in the Thai language.
Paul Underwood, M.D. (MED ’84, I ’87), set out to become a general practitioner in his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. He attended Mayo Clinic for medical school and ended up in Phoenix, Arizona, as an interventional cardiologist. After 25 years in private practice, he transitioned to the medical device industry. For the last nine years, he’s worked at Boston Scientific to develop cutting-edge technologies for interventional cardiologists around the world.
Jeff McKenzie, M.D. (MED ’09), trained in anesthesiology at high-profile, high-volume academic medical centers — Mayo Clinic and Duke University. He recently returned to his hometown, Billings, Montana, where he’s the only cardiac anesthesiologist board certified in transesophageal echocardiography (TEE). He gets to keep a connection to Mayo Clinic at his new position — Billings Clinic is part of the Mayo Clinic Care Network.
In a world of Mayo alumni overachievers, Andrew Landstrom, M.D., Ph.D. (MDPD ’12, MPET ’12), is an overachiever’s overachiever. He simultaneously completed postdoctoral clinical and research fellowships at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, in pediatric cardiology and molecular physiology/biophysics, respectively, and then trained in electrophysiology and start a basic science research lab at Texas Children’s Hospital, focusing on determining the genetic and molecular causes of arrhythmias, cardiomyopathies and heart failure in children. He received a mentored clinical scientist development award (K08) from the National Institutes of Health. As of August 2018, he has moved across the country and is on staff at Duke University School of Medicine.
Aaron Mangold, M.D. (TY ’12, DERM ’15), has come a long way from Wallace Township, Illinois, population 491. After pole vaulting his way through four years of high school and college, he launched himself into a medical and research career that has garnered multiple Mayo Clinic and industry grants, a Career Development Award from the Dermatology Foundation, and a Patient Hero Award from the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery. The latter recognized his public education and lobbying efforts to lift the ban on children carrying and applying sunscreen in schools, camps and other government-operated facilities. His future’s so bright, he’s gotta wear shades. Or rather, he chooses to wear shades as part of his skin cancer prevention practices.
Only 8 percent of practicing urologists in the U.S. are women, and that includes Priyanka Gupta, M.D. (MED ’09), at the University of Michigan. She was attracted to the specialty for the mix of procedures, patient relationships and opportunities for international work. She has a toddler, she’s working to develop an international residency program, and she’s helped to recruit another Mayo Clinic alumna to the Michigan practice — challenging the male dominance of the profession, one woman at a time.
Amelia Adcock, M.D. (N ’13, CBVD ’16), likes a challenge. She spent a couple of years in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and attended medical school in Puerto Rico for the bilingual culture opportunity. Now she’s associate director of the West Virginia University Stroke Center and director of the Center for Teleneurology and Telestroke. She’s starting a stroke fellowship and conducting stroke research. She’s half of a two-physician couple with three kids under 5. Finding balance in her life so she’s fulfilled professionally and personally is a top priority and her biggest challenge.
Brian Braithwaite, M.D. (MED ’11), completed a combined six-year M.D./J.D. program through Mayo Clinic Medical School and Arizona State Law School in the hope that he could practice clinical medicine, with a greater understanding of physicians’ rights and medical malpractice. After completing an anesthesia residency and a pain fellowship, he moved to the greater Cincinnati area, where he is now a partner in an interventional pain management practice.
Midwesterner Jennifer Kruse, M.D. (MED ’09, BMS ’14, PCON ’14), went to Los Angeles for residency after medical school at Mayo Clinic and got hooked on the sunny lifestyle. She returned to Mayo Clinic for fellowship but went back to California for psychiatry practice and to raise her family. She always knew she wanted to teach, and she’s doing that at UCLA, where she directs a newly accredited psychiatry fellowship in addition to a robust clinical practice and budding research career.
Aaron Mansfield, M.D. (I ’09, CI ’11, HEMO ’13), is only five years out of training and already has made a big name for himself and played a key role in drawing national attention to Mayo Clinic. He’s accomplished this through clinical trials for lung cancer and mesothelioma that he’s initiated or brought to Mayo Clinic. His CV lists more than 30 clinical trials either underway or recently completed, and 81 peer-reviewed publications. He just received a competitive National Cancer Institute Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award. The future looks bright for this native Californian.
Anantha Santhanam, Ph.D. (ANES ’06), is pursuing a career in delivering solutions for precision medicine. After postdoctoral training and two additional years at Mayo Clinic, he left academia for entrepreneurship. He got his MBA, joined a start-up company that uses big data to drive variation and redundancy out of health care, and cofounded a nonprofit organization to advance Alzheimer’s disease diagnostics and care. He has taken the position of vice president of product marketing for CQuentia to deliver pharmacogenomic solutions and advance human health by leveraging advancements in molecular science and technology.
Almudena Martinez-Fernandez, Ph.D. (CV ’12, CV ’13), was enmeshed in cardiovascular research at Mayo Clinic for six years, completing a fellowship in cardiac regenerative medicine. Her research focused on finding the best stem cells to regenerate the heart. Her mentors at Mayo Clinic described her as being in the forefront of cardiac regeneration and someone who would drive the field forward. Two years ago she left Mayo Clinic to focus on translational regenerative medicine — bringing projects to clinical trials. Despite a new focus, she’s determined to be a force in driving regenerative medicine forward.
Darren Casey, Ph.D. (ANES ’11), isn’t a Midwesterner by birth, but he is by choice. He grew up in southern California and lived in New York and Florida before landing in at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for a postdoctoral research fellowship. Since 2013 he’s been in Iowa City, Iowa, studying cardiovascular physiology. He plans to stay in the Hawkeye State as long as the work remains rewarding. In fact, he’s told his wife he won’t retire — he plans go to well beyond age 70, saying, “As long as there’s interest, I’ll keep doing it.”
Janelle Fox, M.D. (PRES ’07, U ’11), completed a urology residency at Mayo Clinic in Rochester during a deferment of her military training. Since completing a fellowship in pediatric urology at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, she’s served in the U.S. Navy, based out of Portsmouth, Virginia. A pediatric urologist in the Navy, you might ask? She provides pediatric urology care to military dependents at three locations in Virginia and North Carolina as well as provides general urology services. Semper fortis.
Christine Klassen, M.D. (I ’15), trained at Mayo Clinic in Arizona and is now on staff at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, focusing on the Breast Clinic. She’s involved with efforts to study breast cancer in neurofibromatosis patients who, it’s recently been discovered, are at high risk for breast cancer at an early age. She felt drawn to work in breast cancer because her mother is a survivor of stage 3 triple negative breast cancer.
Juliana Perez Botero, M.D. (I-1 ’12, I ’14, HEMO ’17), a native of Colombia, had never considered training in the Midwest. But fate landed her at Mayo Clinic in Rochester for a visiting clerkship in 2010. “It’s hard to find medical centers in the U.S. that will take students from other countries, especially from a new medical school like mine,” she says. Once she was at Mayo, it became her dream to train there, but she didn’t think she’d get in for residency. “Mayo must have seen potential in me.” She stayed for six years of residency and fellowship. She recently found her dream job at the BloodCenter of Wisconsin.
At the end of his clinical training in cardiology in his native Argentina, Alejandro Chade, M.D. (HYT ’03), went to Mayo Clinic in Rochester for a few months to learn echocardiography. He was tempted to return to Mayo for a yearlong research fellowship and seized the opportunity. That decision changed the course of his career. He gave up clinical practice for an academic research career — now studying therapeutic strategies for renovascular disease and chronic kidney disease at the University of Mississippi.
As science communications director for Delos Living, Aurelie (Lili) N’songo, Ph.D. (BMS ’17, NBD ’17), focuses on translating complex scientific concepts into approachable, accurate language. She trained as a neurogeneticist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, studying the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. A career development internship opened her eyes to opportunities outside the lab, and she’s never looked back.
For the last year Matthew Klein, M.D. (MED ’93), has been a senator in the Minnesota Legislature by day and hospitalist by night. When he’d been in office for only a couple of months, most of his medical colleagues were in the dark about his dual identify. When Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton fainted in January 2017 during his televised State of the State address, Dr. Klein (DFL, District 52), seated near the front, ran to catch the falling governor. Dr. Klein’s colleagues at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) suddenly learned one of their own was in the state legislature.
Kara Bliley Cross, Ph.D. (BME ’08), has worked for Medtronic for the last seven years — first in Colorado and now in Orange County, California. With an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering and a graduate degree in biomedical engineering from Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, she thought she’d work in medical device design and development. Her career path led her toward product quality assurance for structural heart valve therapies, and she loves her role at a leading device manufacturer.
Christopher Boswell, M.D. (MED ’13, FM ’16), is only a year past training but feels right at home teaching medical students and family medicine residents and practicing full-spectrum family medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. His patients stand to benefit from his unique experience on the other side of the exam table — he battled cancer during medical school.
Victoria Gómez, M.D. (I ’11, GI ’14, GIAE ’15), is from Texas by way of Santiago, Chile, trained at Mayo Clinic in Florida and in Rochester, and assumed she’d return to Texas, where her parents live. But the appeal of the Jacksonville area and the “dream job” intervened, and she’s on staff in GI endoscopy at Mayo Clinic. In addition to her regular practice, she pioneered a bariatric endoscopy practice that expanded this fall.
Jason Golbin, D.O. (THDCC ’08), says many of his fellow lifelong New Yorkers believe medicine begins and ends in the Empire State. He gave the Upper Midwest a chance for his fellowship and “was blown away” by the quality of care delivered at Mayo Clinic. In his new position as chief quality officer for the Catholic Health Services system of Long Island, he is emulating Mayo’s approach to patient care.
Katrin Wacker, M.D. (OPH ’06), completed a postdoctoral clinical research fellowship in the Department of Ophthalmology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She fit the fellowship into her residency program in her native Germany. She has returned home to Germany and continues to collaborate with Mayo Clinic. She hopes to further an evidence base for more precise treatment of Fuchs’ endothelial corneal dystrophy.
Thais Coutinho, M.D. (I ’08, CV ’12, CVEC ’13), has broken the glass ceiling only four years since completing her training. She’s the first woman – and the youngest person – to have a division chief position at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Read about the new chapter of this alumna who journeyed from Brazil to Minnesota to Canada to make her mark on medicine.
Elena (Ellie) Jelsing, M.D. (MED ’08, PMR ’12, SPMED ’13), is a physical medicine and rehabilitation and sports medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine in downtown Minneapolis, where Mayo is the exclusive medical provider for the NBA Timberwolves and WNBA Lynx. Dr. Jelsing also is the head team physician for the USA Curling team and a team physician for the U.S. Ski Team.
As the new deputy medical director for the Minnesota Department of Health, Malini DeSilva, M.D. (MED ’09), has had to hit the ground running. She assists with infectious disease outbreaks, including a recent measles outbreak in the Somali community in Minneapolis. She shares lessons learned from this and international disease outbreak experiences.
Three years post-residency, Jewel Kling, M.D. (I ’13), is focused on establishing and building her practice in women’s health at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. She’s co-medical director of a new community-based clinic in downtown Phoenix, in conjunction with St. Vincent de Paul, where students from the brand new Mayo Clinic School of Medicine – Arizona campus will care for patients.
After completing his residency in dermatology at Mayo Clinic, Ali Alikhan, M.D. (DERM ’13), joined the dermatology staff at the University of Cincinnati, where he is director of clinical trials, co-director of the residency program and clinical assistant professor of dermatology. He’s about to embark on another new chapter — moving to the Sacramento area in California, where he’ll join a large multispecialty dermatology practice.
Jill Barnes, Ph.D. (ANES ’13), is an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and affiliate faculty member at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in human integrative physiology at Mayo Clinic School of Biomedical Sciences in 2013. She received the 2014 Edward C. Kendall Mayo Clinic Alumni Association Award for Meritorious Research for her work exploring the interactions of aging, sex differences and cerebral blood flow regulation in humans. Soon thereafter she left Mayo for a tenure-track faculty appointment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Minerva Carrasquillo, Ph.D. (NSCI ’11), is an associate consultant in the Department of Neuroscience and an assistant professor of neuroscience at Mayo Clinic in Florida. She has a big goal. She’d like to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, or at least contribute to a cure through genetic research. She recently received a grant from the Florida Department of Health to investigate Alzheimer’s disease in African-Americans – one of eight Alzheimer’s grants Mayo Clinic in Florida received from the state. She juggles her research responsibilities with raising three children – ages 12, 8 and 5.
Amine Issa, Ph.D. (BME ’10, PHYS ’11, CV ’14), is a research fellow in the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. He also is co-creator of Mobalytics, winner of TechCrunch’s 2016 Startup Battlefield. Born in Lebanon, Dr. Issa finished high school at 14, played video games professionally and even climbed Mount Everest for research. Today he’s found a way to marry his two passions – physiology and video games – to create a rewarding, challenging and unpredictable career.
Katheryn Norris, D.O. (FM ’05), is a physician at Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic at Grandview Medical-Dental Clinic. She’s also the residency director of the Sollus Northwest Family Medicine Residency Program and the 2016 Washington Osteopathic Medical Association’s Physician of the Year. As a physician, residency director, mentor, spouse and mother, Dr. Norris shares her thoughts on her career, her time at Mayo and what makes a great mentor.