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Mayo Clinic Labs @ Work

Thousands of people in hundreds of different roles work at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. Mayo Clinic Labs @Work offers a glimpse behind the scenes into this busy reference laboratory, featuring staff from throughout the organization talking about what they do and why they do it.


What brought you to Mayo Clinic, and how long have you worked here?

I was fortunate to obtain a six-month internship in clinical chemistry through the University of Wyoming and came to Mayo in early 2001 (so I have been here over 20 years!). I have always admired the patient focus, educational opportunities, and wide accessibility to the Mayo Clinic health care system.   

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What’s your current role and what does a typical workday look like for you?

I am an assistant professor of medicine, principal research technologist, and work under hematology research and the Center for Individualized Medicine. I wear many hats for my role, and on a typical day can be found doing a variety of research-based translational work. I am actively involved in writing manuscripts and grants, education and mentoring of rotating staff, giving presentations on and off campus related to chronic myeloid malignancies and/or clonal hematopoiesis, or I can be found in the lab performing experiments using single-cell-based omics technology.


How do you think your work benefits providers and patients?

The ultimate goal of my research is to transform care from bench to bedside. I designed a clonal hematopoiesis research panel that identifies low levels of potentially influential DNA variants and is now being validated into a clinical test for at-risk patients. I instruct fellows, residents, and even patients about the importance of molecular genetic testing reports — looking into and beyond the obvious mutations at the “lesser known” variants, which can help support answers to very specific questions regarding a diagnosis or treatment plan. I am part of a team that is actively building collaboration between practices and is bringing together a rich, shared knowledge base regarding the human mutational landscape through this type of communication. I believe my work helps not only the very patient who consented to the testing, but also promotes Mayo’s vision toward individualized care through precision medicine.


Is there anything about you or your job that others might find surprising?

I have to cut the ends off of pickles before I eat them. And I love 80s music. … Oh, you mean work-related? A surprising thing about me is that I often get starstruck while working here. My job allows me to get a behind-the-scenes observational perspective on things, which I find fascinating. For example, I find it overwhelming sometimes to see the amount of personal sacrifice my colleagues have; the burdens that they carry as they are responsible for holding a patient’s hand with grace through death, and then have to come back to work the next day ready for a new patient load. I also get awestruck at some of the leadership I’ve witnessed, where the motto is truthfully “pulling others up.” Finally, we are aware of the visible institutional leadership and prominent staff and their integral roles in moving Mayo’s vision forward. But I must say that there are phenomenal staff who are not “visible” in a sense of recognition or position but are themselves foundational for this institution. I have seen the blood, sweat, and tears that have built this place over the last 20 years and when I look at these individuals, yes, I get starstruck.


Which part(s) of your job is the most challenging, and why?

I think the most challenging thing about my job is that an incredible amount of time is spent just troubleshooting experiments or processes that do not work. Long hours, sore muscles, and headaches from trying to write grants to fund research, are all side effects from this. So thankfully, I happen to be an extreme optimist, patient, and persistent individual.


What gives you meaning and purpose in your work?

The obvious privilege of working with phenomenal people and being able to contribute to immediate patient care fulfills me. Aside from this, my rather intense work ethic typically gets satisfied every day through all of the diverse things I do here, which is an amazing feeling. Finally, knowing that some of the most incredible and inspirational staff who work here are here doing what they do is a pretty darn comforting feeling.

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Cory Pedersen

Cory Pedersen is a senior marketing specialist for Mayo Clinic Laboratories.