Unraveling the Mysteries

New Center for Biomedical Discovery gleans basic understanding of disease

By Mayo Clinic Staff

How do you starve cancer? How does the body recognize "self"? What makes cells stop producing insulin?

These are some of the unanswered but fundamental questions Mayo Clinic's new Center for Biomedical Discovery will be targeting. The center brings to the forefront the cellular and molecular expertise in Mayo's laboratories, along with the latest technologies, to gain a better understanding of what actually causes disease.

Discoveries in the laboratory form the basis for tomorrow's clinical care. Mark A. McNiven, Ph.D., George M. Eisenberg Professor, is director of the new center. He says finding the mechanism of disease is essential to curing it, rather than simply limiting damage or treating symptoms.

"Our approach has been to assemble teams of talented Mayo scientists with diverse skill sets toward understanding the fundamental molecular and cellular basis of diseases that afflict our patients," Dr. McNiven says.

"Discovery science is a significant part of our research effort at Mayo Clinic, as it is the starting point in seeking help for our patients when current knowledge isn't enough," adds Gregory J. Gores, M.D., Ruben R. Eisenberg Professor and executive dean for research at Mayo Clinic.

Under Dr. McNiven's leadership, cross-disciplinary groups of researchers will be road mapping diseases to improve health in diverse fields.

To maximize discovery knowledge, the platforms in the center bring together teams of investigators from across Mayo Clinic. While the team science is initially focused on investigators within Mayo Clinic, there are plans to create alignment strategies with external partners in industry, academia and foundations as the center evolves. Dr. McNiven will also prioritize innovation and commercialization to help make new discoveries available to patients.

Dr. McNiven hopes to accelerate biomedical discovery at all three Mayo sites to provide true mechanistic understanding of the disease processes that afflict most of our patients.

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