Cancer research and prevention took to the road in 2010. Mayo Clinic's mobile "research lab on wheels" expanded the reach of Mayo researchers who can now recruit and evaluate high-risk populations within their communities.
The self-contained, mobile research facility, a tool of the Center for Translational Science Activities Clinical Research Unit, was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. The RV-style vehicle has two exam rooms, a laboratory, private areas for patient interviews and audiovisual equipment to bring health education resources to community members.
Taking the mobile research unit into the community makes it easier to reach people who face health care access and transportation challenges. Mobile research also helps scientists focus new research efforts on populations that are traditionally underserved in biomedical research.
Gerardo Colon-Otero, M.D., Hematology/Oncology, suspects that African-Americans and people over age 50 are more susceptible to a form of blood cancer associated with multiple myeloma. By using the mobile research unit to educate and study his target population in northeast Florida, he hopes to determine if they share an acquired genetic abnormality.
In Arizona, Mayo has partnered with Arizona State University for the Maricopa County Insulin Resistance Initiative led by Lawrence Mandarino, Ph.D. The study examines metabolic syndrome among Latinos, another hard-to-reach population that is extremely affected by diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance. By building new relationships within the Latino community, researchers ultimately hope to help patients fight their disease progression through lifestyle changes.