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Mayo Clinic Special Research Student Appointment

The Mayo Clinic Special Research Student (SRS) appointment is intended to provide a meaningful research experience to Barrett students considering a biomedical research career (as opposed to practicing as a physician) and expose them to the Ph.D and M.D-Ph.D programs offered by Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

This appointment will offer on-going research opportunities for independent study course credit to Barrett students considering a career in biomedical research, and Mayo Clinic investigators will obtain first-hand knowledge about potential Mayo Clinic Graduate School candidates before they apply.

Browse the Mayo Clinic faculty participating in the program below and learn more about their research area.

Applications for the 2024-2025 academic year are closed. Applications for the next academic year will open in Spring 2025.

Responsible leaders for this partnership are Jorge Pita Abarca, Education Administration Coordinator, Mayo Clinic, at and Alexandra Aragon, Director of Academic Partnerships, Barrett, the Honors College, at

Research areas and faculty

Mayo Faculty


Research Interest

photo of Estaban Braggio, Ph.D. 	Esteban Braggio, Ph.D. Esteban Braggio, Ph.D., is primarily interested in studying the genetic basis of leukemias and lymphomas that affect B cells, a specific cell type found in the blood and bone marrow. B cells are an essential component of the adaptive immune system.
photo of Amylou Dueck, Ph.D. Amylou Dueck, Ph.D. Dr. Dueck's primary role at Mayo Clinic is designing and analyzing clinical trials in hematologic malignancies, though she additionally collaborates with investigators in neurology and other departments on studies of various designs. Focus areas:
  • Design and analysis of cancer treatment clinical trials
  • Novel endpoints in symptom management and cancer treatment clinical trials
  • Analysis and interpretation issues related to patient-reported outcomes
photo of Clifford D. Folmes, Ph.D. Clifford D. Folmes, Ph.D. Research in the laboratory of Clifford D. Folmes, Ph.D., focuses on how mitochondria and energy metabolism regulate cell fate decisions, and the molecular mechanisms by which individual metabolic pathways support stage-specific stem cell function. The lab employs a wide variety of investigative techniques, such as metabolic flux analysis and metabolomics in disease models and human cell cultures.
photo of Nhan L. Tran, Ph.D. Nhan L. Tran, Ph.D. The research of Nhan L. Tran, Ph.D., is focused on elucidating the cellular and biochemical mechanisms of action of candidate genes expressed in highly invasive cancer cells. Dr. Tran's lab is currently investigating several targets mediating cancer invasion and survival.

Mayo Faculty


Research Interest

photo of Hakan Ceylan, Ph.D.

Dr. Hakan Ceylan, Ph.D.

Dr. Hakan Ceylan, Ph.D., is a multidisciplinary scientist working outside the mainstream box at the intersections of mechanical engineering, materials science, and medicine. His research team develops untethered microrobots that can be programmed to navigate and carry out medical tasks inside the body. Their goal is to turn science fiction into reality and revolutionize targeted therapies and minimally invasive surgical interventions of the 2030s. To reach this goal, Dr. Ceylan’s laboratory is generously equipped with state-of-the-art robotic control devices, patient-emulating phantom organ testbeds, and various materials engineering capabilities to develop microrobots.
Headshot of Dr. Suman Bose Dr. Suman Bose, Ph.D.

Dr. Suman Bose's research is at the interface of biomaterial science, cellular engineering, and drug delivery with the aim of creating next-generation cell-based therapies. The lab combines multiscale manufacturing techniques, chemistry, and cellular engineering principles to build implantable drug-delivery devices that can deliver precise doses of therapeutics in real-time. The lab also performs fundamental studies to gain mechanistic insights into the cross-talk between the immune system and implanted biomaterials. These studies guide the design of advanced biomaterials that resist host rejection and integrate better within the host tissue.

photo of Dr. Leland S. Hu, M.D. Dr. Leland S. Hu, M.D. Dr. Leland S. Hu is an Associate Professor of Radiology in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. He joined Mayo in 2008 and has been a Consultant in the Department of Radiology since 2011. Dr. Hu directs the clinical imaging component for the weekly multi-disciplinary neuro-oncology tumor board at Mayo Clinic, Arizona. Dr. Hu serves as a Principal Investigator (PI) on multiple U01/R01 grants awarded by the NIH, which center on development and validation of novel imaging mechanisms for brain tumors such as Glioblastoma. He has also served as PI on multiple state-funded and institutional grants. He and his team of researchers have specialized in the use of image-localized biopsies and spatial coregistration to construct predictive models that resolve intratumoral molecular/genetic heterogeneity. To date, Dr. Hu has authored 45 peer-reviewed publications and holds one US patent.
photo of Dr. Kristin R. Swanson, Ph.D. Dr. Kristin R. Swanson, Ph.D. Dr. Kristin R. Swanson is a mathematical oncologist with research interests in clinical trial design and mathematical modeling for the treatment of patients with brain cancer. Dr. Swanson's lab works to generate patient-specific predictive models to effectively and accurately predict tumor growth and response to therapy in individual patients. The lab works with clinical and research teams at Mayo Clinic to bring these innovations to the clinic while identifying new predictive models. The research conducted by Dr. Swanson in the development of patient-specific mathematical models can generate accurate predictions of disease course and response to therapy. This information can be used to inform novel therapy design, resulting in better treatment and outcomes for patients.
photo of Dr. Nelly Tan, M.D. Dr. Nelly Tan, M.D. Dr. Nelly Tan is an abdominal radiologist, with clinical interests in genitourinary imaging, and quality of care, specifically in the area of patient experience. Optimizing Patient Experience is a Mayo Clinic priority. Mayo Radiology is among the high-volume department. Currently, no systematic patient satisfaction tool is in practice to understand patient experience. Our long term goal is to engage patients, use patient feedback to inform strategic planning for radiology services, to identify opportunities and implement change to optimize patient experience. Doing so will allow for continuous, agile changes in order to meet the needs of our patients in this ever growing consumer driven market and to embrace, “The patient will see you now” philosophy". We envision Mayo Radiology delivering both High-Quality and Patient-Centered Care. Dr. Tan's current efforts focus on implementing tech-driven tools to transform how we hear from our patients about their experience, by soliciting more real time feedback/satisfaction from modern omni-channel (text/chat/web) technology; allowing us to identify and respond more quickly to improvement opportunities that drive experience and improve practice. Dr. Tan found that majority of patient feedback expressed gratitude to staff and is working on automatically directing the positive feedback to individual staff to cultivate joy in the workplace. As a corollary, Dr Tan with working with AI team to develop Natural Language Processing AI tool to provide intelligent real-time dashboard for staff and leadership.
photo of Zong Wei, PhD Zong Wei, PhD In 2018, over 100 million people within the United States were either diabetic or prediabetic; by the year 2030 the obesity rate in the United States is expected to surpass 42%. Accordingly, obesity has been classified as a pandemic disease. Both obesity and diabetes introduce a multitude of severely debilitating pathologies in patients, including blindness, kidney failure, stroke, cancer, heart disease, depression, neuropathy, loss of limbs, infertility and death. Because of these complications, millions of people rely daily on medications to regulate their fundamental metabolic processes. The laboratory of Zong Wei, Ph.D., focuses on creating novel models to study diabetes and metabolism, and to identify therapeutic targets in metabolic diseases. Using both human stem cell-differentiated organoids and mouse models, the laboratory investigates the epigenomic regulation of cellular dysfunction in diabetes and metabolic diseases, identifies novel therapeutic targets in obesity and inflammation, and studies the fundamental mechanisms of transcription and chromatin biology.
photo of Wuqiang Zhu, MD, PhD Wuqiang Zhu, MD, PhD Heart failure is a costly and deadly condition affecting over 5 million Americans. The research in Dr. Zhu laboratory uses in vitro and in vivo models, as well as human biopsy samples, to understand the pathogenesis of heart failure and to develop novel therapeutics to enhance cardiac regeneration and cardioprotection in patients with heart failure. Research in the laboratory of Wuquiang Zhu, M.D., Ph.D., focuses on understanding the pathophysiology of heart failure and developing therapeutic approaches for cardiac regeneration and repair. The proliferative capacity of cardiomyocytes in the adult mammalian heart is too low to promote structural and functional recovery after injuries. Disorders of ventricular function and structure after ischemic injury reduce cardiac output and can impair diastolic relaxation of the heart, leading to heart failure. Current therapeutic regimens do not address the root cause of heart failure due to ischemic injury, such as the loss of cardiomyocytes and their replacement by a non-contractile fibrous scar.

Mayo Faculty


Research Interest

Image of Dr. Diane Ehlers Dr. Diane K. Ehlerts, Ph.D Research in the Exercise Neuropsychology Laboratory, directed by Dr. Diane Ehlers, focuses on understanding the neurocognitive, psychosocial, and physical function benefits of physical activity and exercise in cancer and aging populations. We employ health behavior theory-based strategies to help individuals change their activity behaviors and test associations between behavior adoption and health outcomes. The lab’s current research focuses specifically on the influence of aerobic exercise training on cognitive function and brain integrity in women with breast cancer. The lab’s research utilizes an interdisciplinary approach and includes collaborations with experts in exercise science, clinical oncology, implementation science, and neuroscience. The overall goal of Dr. Ehlers’ work is to use physical activity and exercise to improve quality of life and successful aging in cancer populations and older adults without a history of cancer.
photo of Elena De Filippis, M.D., Ph.D. Elena De Filippis, M.D., Ph.D. Elena De Filippis, M.D., Ph.D., and her laboratory focus on identifying novel molecular mechanisms and pathways altered in the metabolism of fat. In her laboratory, a translational approach is adopted by conducting research at the Clinical Study Infusion Unit, at Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona. There, in vivo methods such as the euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp technique associated with the use of stable isotope to assess insulin sensitivity are used on participants, while human fat tissue samples are collected by performing subcutaneous fat biopsies. In order to answer basic mechanistic questions related to her interests, Dr. De Filippis' laboratory, in collaboration with James J. Lee, Ph.D., evaluates in vivo metabolism of fat and insulin resistance. Proteomics, next-generation sequencing, flow cytometry and molecular biology techniques are applied on fat samples, adipose tissue and adipocyte cell culture to explore research hypotheses.
 photo of Lisa Rimsza, MD

Lisa Rimsza, MD

Dr. Rimsza’s clinical focus is hematopathology, including blood, lymph node and tissue diagnosis of benign and malignant lymphoid and myeloid disorders. Her research focuses on loss of immune surveillance in lymphoma; gene expression profiling and mutational analysis of lymphoid malignancies; lymphoma biomarker development and commercialization; and AIDS-related lymphomas. In addition to giving presentations on her research to both national and international audiences, Dr. Rimsza has authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, abstracts, book chapters and other written publications. She also serves on the editorial board for Journal of Hematopathology and holds reviewer responsibilities for prominent scientific journals.

Mayo Faculty


Research Interest

photo of Henrique Borges da Silva, Ph.D. Henrique Borges da Silva, Ph.D. Dr. Henrique Borges da Silva, Ph.D. studies how extracellular nucleotides regulate the immune system. Nucleotides (e.g. ATP, AMP, and Adenosine) are produced by and influence numerous intracellular pathways. In diverse circumstances, they are released into the extracellular environment and are sensed by specific receptors (purinergic receptors). Many purinergic receptors are expressed by immune cells. Dr. Borges da Silva’s lab has a main focus on determining how extracellular ATP (eATP) sensing affects transcriptional, metabolic and functional mechanisms of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in response to viral infections or cancer. This stems from fundamental discoveries made by Dr. Borges da Silva which showed a crucial role for the eATP sensor P2RX7 in the establishment of CD8+ T cell memory. Dr. Borges da Silva aims to expand these findings by using a wide range of current and new experimental tools.
photo of Marion Curtis, Ph.D. Marion Curtis, Ph.D. The main research focus of Marion R. Curtis, Ph.D., centers on understanding how the tumor microenvironment influences the metabolism of immune cells and how the metabolic state of immune cells may regulate cancer metastasis and response to immunotherapy. Dr. Curtis' laboratory employs a wide variety of techniques, including metabolomics, proteomics and advanced cellular imaging, applied to primary human cells and cancer models to identify mediators of immune cell metabolism and function.
Fotini Gounari Fotini Gounari, Ph.D.

The research focus of Dr. Fotini Gounari is on understanding transcription and epigenetic networks that regulate T cell development to shape a healthy and balanced T cell immunity and how the deregulation of these networks can promote inflammation and cancer. In particular we are studying regulatory networks involving Tcf-1, a central regulator at nearly every stage of T cell differentiation that binds to accessible chromatin sites together with several other transcription regulators. We want the determine the fundamental functions of regulatory complexes in which Tcf-1 participates and define their transcription and epigenetic functions. Tcf-1 can be functionally modulated by the multifunctional protein β-catenin and conditional activation of β-catenin in T-cells redirects Tcf-1 to cause pathologies in human disease. We are focusing on understanding how the deregulated activation of β-catenin interferes with the physiological functions of Tcf-1 to promote leukemia, inflammation and colon cancer. Current research interests include:


  1. Elucidating the Molecular functions and interactions of Tcf-1 in thymocytes.
  2. Defining the molecular processes by which β-catenin engages Tcf-1 to promote genomic instability the T cell transformation. 
  3. Determining the processes by which β-catenin renters Tregs proinflammatory.
 photo of Elizabeth A. Jacobsen, PhD Elizabeth A. Jacobsen, PhD Elizabeth A. Jacobsen, PhD. is an expert in eosinophil biology. Eosinophils are granulocytes that are generally associated with asthma and allergies, but recently are found to play a role in metabolism, liver injury, transplant rejection, cancer and many other diseases. Understanding the factors that regulate the responses of these cells is a major goal of Dr. Jacobsen’s research. Dr. Jacobsen primarily works with in vitro and translational models of inflammation, yet also participates with the greater Division of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Group at Mayo Clinic in patient studies.
photo of Khashayarsha Khazaie, Ph.D., D.Sc. Khashayarsha Khazaie, Ph.D., D.Sc. Khashayarsha Khazaie, Ph.D., D.Sc., directs basic and translational research in cancer immunology and immunosenescence. Dr. Khazaie's lab studies immune responses that help tumors grow and spread as well as immune responses that protect against cancer. A major focus is on regulatory T cells (Tregs), their subsets, and their diverse functions in regulating inflammation and immunity in the gastrointestinal tract. In this context, there is interest in the role of microbiota and circadian rhythm. Breast cancer recurrence is a second topic of research, wherein the role of the immune system in controlling tumor dissemination, tumor dormancy and metastasis is investigated. Novel microbial-based vaccines are tested for treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Dr. Khazaie is also interested in understanding how the immune system changes during the aging process and how these changes help to predispose the aged to cancer. Finally, Dr. Khazaie is dedicated to ensuring continually high-quality patient care through the education of current and future physicians and scientists and carries out various teaching activities in the field of immunology.
Gloria B Kim Gloria B Kim, Ph.D. The Lab for Cellular Immunotherapy and Immunoengineering (LCII) led by Dr. Gloria Kim is in the Department of Physiology and Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Immunology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. LCII focuses on using genetically engineered immune cells (CAR-T and TCR-T cells) and biomaterials to develop the next-generation treatment options for patients with cancers and immune-related diseases. We invite you to join our mission to leverage our expertise in T cell engineering, immunology, material science, and biomedical engineering to understand how immune cells work in health and disease while advancing biomedical technologies that can boost the efficacy and persistence of cellular immunotherapies.
photo of Hirohito Kita, Ph.D. Hirohito Kita, Ph.D. Dr. Kita’s laboratory studies the immunologic mechanisms of allergic diseases, including peanut and food allergy, allergy rhinitis (hay fever) and bronchial asthma. The goals are to better understand the pathophysiology of these diseases and to develop novel treatment and preventive strategies for patients. The laboratory isolates, cultures and studies airway epithelial cells, innate lymphoid cells and T cells in vitro. Several mouse models have been developed to simulate human diseases, and transgenic and gene-deficient mice are used to dissect the mechanisms. Blood and tissue specimens from patients are also collected and analyzed.
photo of Jessica Lancaster, Ph.D. Jessica Lancaster, Ph.D. Jessica N. Lancaster, Ph.D., investigates age-associated alterations to the immune system. As the immune system ages, it is less able to combat new pathogens and responds poorly to vaccination, making the elderly more vulnerable to infectious disease. The aged immune system also has more trouble recognizing cancer, making therapy less effective in elderly patients. At the same time, the immune system is more likely to be activated inappropriately, leading to increased incidence of autoimmune disease. Dr. Lancaster’s research focuses on the development and response of T cells and B cells, members of the immune system that are exquisitely tailored to their targets and are essential for resolving infectious threats. Using live-cell two-photon microscopy, Dr. Lancaster directly visualizes T and B cells as they interact within their organ microenvironments, in order to understand how communication within the immune system breaks down with age. The molecular mechanisms of the altered immune response are further studied using in vitro culture, flow cytometry, and mouse models. As an ever-increasing segment of the world’s population reaches the age of 65 years and older, it is critical to understand why the immune system changes with age in order to develop strategies to improve immunity and quality of life.
photo of SangKon Oh, Ph.D. SangKon Oh, Ph.D. The overall research goal of the laboratory of SangKon Oh, Ph.D., is to understand how the innate immune system plays a decision-making role in orchestrating the strength, quality and persistence of antigen-specific T and B cell responses. This fundamental question can be addressed in the context of microbial infections, cancers and inflammatory diseases (including autoimmune diseases).

Mayo Faculty


Research Interest

Image of Dr. Krishna Bhat Dr. Krishna Bhat The overarching goals of the Bhat laboratory is to understand the cellular and molecular alterations that underlie adult brain tumors and identify novel therapeutic targets to eliminate this disease. We employ a combination of molecular and immunological techniques, mouse modelling and computational approaches to uncover new pathways that are dysregulated in glioblastoma, a lethal form of brain cancer.
photo of Dr. Cat Chong, Ph.D. Dr. Cat Chong, Ph.D. Dr. Cat Chong investigates the neuro-correlates of headache and associated symptoms. Our lab integrates multi-modal neuroimaging with patient symptoms to elucidate the neurobehavioral complexities of migraine and concussion. The main focus of our lab is to utilize computational modeling techniques that enable the classification of specific headache disorders based upon behavioral measures and structural and functional neuroimaging data.
photo of Todd J. Schwedt, M.D Todd J. Schwedt, M.D. Research in the Neuroimaging of Headache Disorders Laboratory of Todd J. Schwedt, M.D., utilizes advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to study migraine and concussion. This includes structural measures, such as diffusion tensor imaging and cortical thickness, as well as functional measures, including event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging and resting state functional connectivity. The goal of Dr. Schwedt's research is to identify imaging biomarkers that will assist in diagnosing, treating and prognosticating outcomes for patients with migraine and concussion.
photo of Benjamin Wright, M.D. Benjamin Wright, M.D. Dr. Wright investigates the immunologic mechanisms of food allergy and eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE).  We believe that allergic diseases are protective host-defense mechanisms gone awry.  Our lab has shown that IgE-mediated food allergy and EoE exist on the same disease spectrum and that persistent antigen exposure in the context of epithelial barrier disruption can stimulate type 2 inflammatory responses resulting in clinical disease.  We currently employ esophageal air liquid interface cultures and novel mouse models to examine the environmental and host factors that initiate the immunopathology of food allergy and EoE.  Our lab is also actively engaged in translational research efforts to identify diagnostic biomarkers of EoE and has an active biobank of clinical specimens.

Position Description

  • Students will have appointments during the academic year.
  • No stipend is associated with this appointment, as the students receive credit for their participation (HON 498)
  • Students will collaborate with a Mayo Clinic investigator on a research project. In some cases, the research project may evolve into the honors thesis project, if approved by the thesis chair and the Mayo Clinic investigator.

Learning Objectives

  • Demonstrate a scholarly approach to biomedical problems and a willingness to learn new skills/ techniques that are needed to solve biomedical problems.
  • Describe the critical role of basic science, clinical, epidemiological and translational research and scholarship in understanding and alleviating disease and disability from disease.
  • Describe the steps needed to identify a suitable biomedical research question, formulate a hypothesis, design a suitable experimental procedure, obtain and properly analyze data.
  • Work with a faculty mentor to analyze a research question and analyze and interpret the data collected.
  • Demonstrate command of the domain of research project and present data coherently and effectively.
  • Describe the process of preparing research materials for publication or presentation.


Exceptional Arizona State University (ASU) Barrett Honors College students are eligible for participation.

Applicants must:

  • Be in second or third year in Barrett at ASU during semester of appointment. 
  • Have a grade point average of at least a 3.3 (4.0 scale).
  • Be seeking a major relevant to the desired experience within The College, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, or the College of Health Solutions with at least 1 year of experience (recommended).
  • Be seriously considering a biomedical research career as a Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. (as opposed to practicing as a physician).
  • Be able to devote at least 10 hours per week to the research project on the Scottsdale campus at Mayo Clinic. (Three consecutive days each week with uninterrupted laboratory time of 3-4 hours each day is preferred, but not required – TBD with Mayo Clinic Investigator).
  • If planning a thesis, have an ASU faculty co-director for the thesis if the Mayo Clinic investigator does not have an academic affiliation with ASU.
  • Be able to register for HON 498 for 3 credits each semester of appointment
  • Have access to transportation to and from Mayo Clinic

Applications will be initially reviewed by Barrett, The Honors College and eligible applicants will be submitted to Mayo faculty for further review. 

Attachments must include:

  • A personal statement describing your interest in the program and career goals
  • A copy of your transcript (unofficial is acceptable)
  • One signed letter of recommendation on letterhead (from a current or previous supervisor or faculty member)

Expectations of student researchers

  • Register for 3 credits of HON 498
  • Be present for all agreed-upon hours of research work at Mayo.
  • Be familiar with all background materials in preparation for research work.
  • Complete all work (laboratory/clinical work, writing, presentations, etc.) on time and excellently.
  • Be responsive to all feedback and requests by research mentor in regard to the research experience.

Expectations of investigators

  • Be available to student researcher.
  • Offer guidance in the research work.
  • Ensure that student researcher has adequate space, materials, and access to equipment.
  • Provide mentoring to student researcher.
  • Provide an evaluation of student’s research work at end of semester (the independent study will be graded with pass/fail).