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CSB and SJU students participate in Mayo Innovation Scholars Program

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April 9, 2012

By Michael Hemmesch

Four students at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University recently concluded their participation in the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program (MISP), an experiential learning program offered through four different areas of Mayo Clinic. 

The interdisciplinary program provides research opportunities to teams of undergraduates from Minnesota private colleges, under the guidance of select graduate students. 

The CSB and SJU students worked on their assigned project on campus throughout the 2011-12 academic year, and presented their findings in March at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and in a written report. 

SJU senior management major Joe Smith (Bloomington, Minn.), CSB junior nursing major Ariel Reischl (Sartell, Minn.), SJU senior biology major Dalton Buysse (Marshall, Minn.) and SJU senior biology and Hispanic studies double major Chris Hagen (Blacksburg, Va.) presented research on virtual pre-natal care. The students worked on the project with the Center for Innovation at Mayo Clinic. 

They were supported by Trent Miller, SJU class of 2009 and a current MBA student at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul. Lisa Lindgren, associate professor of management at CSB and SJU, and Barb May, assistant professor of biology at CSB and SJU, served as project advisers. 

"The program is unique because it allows business students and science students to come together and work on a project for Mayo Clinic," Miller said. "I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the program because not only would it be a great experience, it would also allow me to connect with current Johnnies and Bennies. We were all able to learn from each other throughout the project and the team should be proud of what they accomplished." 

"Our team was so knowledgeable and their presentation was very polished," Lindgren said. "John Meslow, the founder of the program, congratulated me on the quality of the team's work. The sponsor [Dan O'Neil] of the team's project expressed gratitude for the team's great research and insights." 

MISP aims to assist Mayo Clinic in the assessment of new product submissions by Mayo researchers, provide research opportunities for undergraduate science and business students, and provide leadership development and research opportunities for MBA students. 

The program was designed in 2006 by Meslow, a retired Medtronic executive. Together with Mayo's Office of Intellectual Property and the Minnesota Private College Council (MPCC), Meslow created a unique program to place students from a variety of disciplines at the interface of innovations in science and medicine and the fields of intellectual property, marketing and business development. Research projects are submitted by Mayo Clinic professionals through Mayo Clinic Ventures, the College of Medicine, Global Products and Services and the Center for Innovation.  

After the presentation, the students described their experience and its benefits. 

"The MISP program offered a unique opportunity to work with fellow students from other disciplines to tackle a real problem," Hagen said. "I plan to pursue a career in health after graduation. I believe that the knowledge I gained regarding business aspects of clinical research and project development will be invaluable in my future endeavors."  

"I would say that the MISP program was a way to put the material we learn in classes toward a project with real world implications," Buysse said. "As a science student, it was nice to have some experience with the business side of health care. I can't think of a better organization to have the opportunity to work with than Mayo Clinic." 

The students spoke highly of the program's interdisciplinary approach. 

"MISP has been an amazing experience in part because the team is comprised of two business and two science students," Smith said. "This program gives students the project management skills to succeed in a real world project that Mayo Clinic is currently working on. As an added bonus, many employers that I have been interviewing with are impressed by MISP on my resume and regard the program highly." 

"MISP is a great way of culminating the education at CSB and SJU," Reischl said. "I could not have picked a better project to bring a variety of disciplines together for an endeavor that will bring results. It made the lessons learned in the classroom and textbooks develop into a real-life situation." 

In total, there were 10 presentations over two days by MPCC member institutions. 

Now in its sixth year, MISP continues to be an innovative model for student experiential learning. Funding for MISP is provided by the Medtronic Foundation. Additional funding and support comes from Mayo Clinic and MPCC.