Sharon Zehe, Vice President of Business Affairs for Mayo Medical Laboratories (MML), recently sat down with American Healthcare Leader to discuss her role at MML. Zehe oversees MML’s business growth around the world and stays abreast of trailblazing technology in the laboratory medicine industry.
“MML is our outward-facing laboratory, performing testing for medical groups from around the globe,” explains Zehe. “We also provide laboratory services for millions of patients who come to Mayo Clinic every year through our Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology.”
Zehe is in charge of both sides of the business, overseeing regulatory and compliance issues and participating in business strategy and outside collaborations. A native of Wisconsin, Zehe worked in human resources before earning her law degree from William Mitchell College of Law, now called Mitchell Hamline School of Law, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Zehe got to know Mayo Clinic through outside counsel work, and when an opening came up to support the laboratories, she applied for and was offered that position. Zehe came in as a business lawyer in 2004.
However, over the years, her role has expanded. Zehe’s current top-line challenge is bringing laboratory best practices to bear as Mayo expands its model of care to other parts of the world. “We have a fairly significant footprint in the Middle East, South America, and Mexico. We are not as big in Europe or Asia, but we are trying to grow there,” she says. “We want to bring the Mayo testing model to these health care providers and work with their physicians and scientists to show them how we do it here,” Zehe says.
In the article, Zehe also discusses her work with Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine, designed to advance the science of genomics testing to create personalized treatment plans for each patient’s particular disease genotype. One collaboration she is assisting with involves the Baylor College of Medicine and OneOme in the RIGHT 10K study to sequence seventy-six pharmacogenes samples from ten thousand patients who receive all of their health care at Mayo Clinic.
“The RIGHT 10K study is working to help providers understand what pharmacogenomics is,” Zehe says. “Pharmacogenomics can be quite big, and to ask physicians to stay on top of all this is overwhelming. This study hopes to help educate physicians and pharmacists on how a patient’s genome affects how certain prescription medications can be prescribed to ensure the greatest effectiveness.”
With all of these different projects and collaborative processes, Zehe truly appreciates the pace and variety of her job. “Some of these collaborations move extremely fast,” she says. “Different parts of the world have different issues to address. I really enjoy the learning experience of it.” In addition, she says that the law is far behind where medicine is. “It is an interesting dynamic to say, ‘Here are the legal parameters, but they haven’t caught up with how laboratory tests or precision medicine works now.’ But we have to work with that going forward to always do the right thing for patients.”