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Pushing the Boundaries of Medicine
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General Clinical Research Center

In 1971, Mayo Clinic received its first grant from the National Institutes of Health to support a General Clinical Research Center (GCRC). The beginnings of the center at Mayo can be traced to 1919 when Dr. Will Mayo asked Dr. Russell Wilder to join the Mayo staff to extend its facilities for bedside teaching and clinical investigation.

Upon his arrival at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Wilder set up a small, improvised laboratory in a downtown hospital for patients with diabetes. In this location, Dr. Wilder and his colleagues had access to clinical beds and a small biochemical laboratory. Despite frequent moves to different hospital facilities, the researchers made significant contributions to the understanding of diabetes.

The predecessor to today's GCRC was conceived in 1928 when this laboratory was moved to a larger space within Saint Marys Hospital. This unit became one of the first in the country designed solely for the detailed study of metabolic disorders in humans.

Today's GCRC is one of 78 facilities in the United States supported by a grant from the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health to support clinical research programs. The center serves as a bridge between scientific discovery and clinical practice, allowing clinical investigators to apply knowledge gained through basic research to the development of new or improved methods of patient care.

Mayo's center plays a significant role in researchers' and physicians' abilities to conduct highly controlled invasive studies with research volunteers. The center has two fully equipped research units, a team of specially trained nurses, technical and support staff, nutrition/dietary services and metabolic kitchen, sophisticated core laboratory facilities, Informatics Core and Biostatistical support, along with an extensive research education and training program.

More than 200 active protocols are under way in the center, including those involving diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, gastrointestinal diseases and sleep disorders. More than one-third of the members of the Mayo Clinic staff are engaged in clinical research, which ultimately translates into improved patient care.

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