With the click of a mouse, medical students opened a window into the healthcare of the future. The 2020 Mayo Clinic Regenerative Medicine and Surgery Course, a foundation for transformative change, moved online this year due to social distancing guidelines around COVID-19. Regenerative medicine is a shift from treating disease to restoring health. The week-long patient-centric regenerative medicine-intensive course is designed to prepare the next generation of physicians and scientists to apply emerging regenerative approaches to the practice.
“Mayo Clinic puts a high priority on regenerative sciences as an investment in the health care of the future. It represents a new paradigm in healthcare. It is vital that students take a regenerative lens toward treating diseases,” says Fredric Meyer, M.D., executive dean, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. “Beyond regenerative curricula dedicated to medical students, Mayo is one of the first academic medical institutions to establish master’s and doctoral programs in regenerate sciences.”
Traditionally delivered in-person at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, the course was quickly converted to an online, digital format. Online modules included a virtual human laboratory session featuring demonstrations of stem cell therapies, simulated regenerative telemedicine patient consults, live-broadcast video tours of clinical grade manufacturing facilities for regenerative products, patient interactions, career panels and group discussions.
“The online learning platform catalyzed a global community of next-generation learners. Group learning was further facilitated by online information sharing, allowing students to post questions, review journal articles and engage with the virtual community,” says Saranya Wyles, M.D., Ph.D., course director.
Amanda Terlap is a Ph.D. student in the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences whose thesis is focused on viral infections. She enrolled in the course to get a full overview of regenerative medicine from both patient and clinician perspectives.
“I now have a better understanding of just how powerful regenerative medicine can be and the extraordinary impact it can have on patients. I have learned about potential opportunities that can evolve my research. I believe that regenerative medicine is the foundation in which cures will be made. It is inspiring,” she says.
Valerie Melson is a first year medical student who is leaning toward specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. She had heard about the diverse points of regenerative procedures involving stem cells, but also sees regenerative medicine as an area of practice that could bring breakthrough cures to patients. She was eager to learn from the experts.
“My belief is that regenerative medicine and the novel ways it tries to address problems is the future of medicine. The course gave me tangible ways in which physicians identified shortcomings in the treatment strategies and then used regenerative medicine to help rectify those shortcomings. It definitely reaffirmed that what I had been imagining for my career is in fact possible,” she says.
With a strong interest in neurodegenerative diseases and aging, Ayumi Sakamoto is leaning toward specializing in geriatric medicine. The course confirmed her desire to become a physician and piqued her interest in further exploring regenerative medicine in the context of neurodegeneration.
“Learning about the various cutting-edge techniques and procedures in regenerative medicine gave me a valuable insight into the future of patient care. Hearing about the tremendously positive patient experiences with regenerative treatments has inspired me to continue learning more about the field and motivates me to become a physician who is able to utilize these therapies for my future patients,” she says.
The Mayo Clinic Regenerative Medicine and Surgery Course is a collaboration between the Center for Regenerative Medicine and the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. Open to students at Mayo Clinic and beyond, this year’s course included students from University College of London, University of Belgrade and the National Institutes of Health Alliance for Regenerative Rehabilitation Research & Training, which included students from Oxford University and Creighton University.