The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Mayo Clinic Health System announced a new agreement on June 28 that will increase opportunities for research collaboration between the two institutions, create new avenues of learning for UW-Eau Claire students, and make way for projects that will lead to improved health and wellness in the community.
A new master collaborative research agreement will enable researchers at the two institutions to work together on projects. UW-Eau Claire and Mayo Clinic Health System will be better able to help prepare the next generation of scientists, innovators, and health care providers and leaders, officials said during a press conference at Mayo Clinic Health System’s Eau Claire campus.
Faculty-student collaborative research is a strong tradition at UW-Eau Claire and one of the key hands-on undergraduate learning opportunities the university is known for, said Chancellor James Schmidt. He noted that in 2017, UW-Eau Claire was named the top master’s level undergraduate research institution in the country by the Council on Undergraduate Research, and for nearly 30 years, it has carried the distinction of being the UW System’s Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research Collaboration.
Schmidt also noted Mayo Clinic’s strong commitment to advancing research, as evidenced by its inclusion as a key part of their institutional mission.
“Given our shared commitment to advancing research, it makes great sense that UW-Eau Claire and Mayo Clinic would look for new, strategic and intentional ways we can work together to accomplish our goals,” Schmidt said. “By creating a master collaborative research agreement, we can simplify the steps to working together. This will make it possible for even more of our faculty, staff and students to work alongside esteemed Mayo Clinic physicians and scientists.”
Richard Helmers, M.D., regional vice president for Mayo Clinic Health System, northwest Wisconsin, reiterated that the signing of the research agreement is in direct support of Mayo’s institutional mission.
“The three shields of the Mayo Clinic logo represent the three aspects of our mission: practice, education and research,” Dr. Helmers said. “The Mayo model of research has a long history of transforming the practice of medicine by taking a collaborative approach to medical science. Together with UW-Eau Claire, this partnership will help to spur exciting new developments in research and health care education, right here in the Chippewa Valley.”
UW-Eau Claire faculty have a decades-long tradition of success in finding external research partners, including Mayo Clinic physicians and scientists, and the new research agreement will mean more of those partnerships can happen, said Patricia A. Kleine, UW-Eau Claire provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.
Kleine cited UW-Eau Claire faculty members in biology, communication sciences and disorders, and kinesiology who have worked with researchers from area health organizations on projects involving polycystic kidney disease, aphasia and the role of exercise in cancer recovery.
“Those are just a few of the many examples we have of our faculty, staff and students collaborating on health care-related research and initiatives, Kleine said. “All of those projects are possible because of individual connections faculty and staff made on their own. This new agreement will make it easier for our faculty and staff to make these kinds of connections with the Mayo Clinic Health System team members, which will make even more of these joint projects possible.”
While the new master collaborative agreement offers many new opportunities for UW-Eau Claire and Mayo Clinic Health Systems to work together, both organizations also will continue to nurture existing partnerships and look for additional opportunities to work with entities in the Chippewa Valley and beyond.
“We have wonderful agreements already in place with a number of valued partners,” Kleine said. “Those relationships definitely will continue, and, hopefully, expand as we look for innovative ways to connect even more of our faculty, staff and students with organizations and communities.”
Donn Dexter, M.D., chair of education for Mayo Clinic Health System, northwest Wisconsin, said the new research agreement would have positive impacts on area residents, as well as the future of health care.
“This is an exciting opportunity for us to work together to help to improve the health and wellness of the residents of the Chippewa Valley,” Dr. Dexter said. “It also will enhance the educational experience of the health care providers of the future — a vital part of our workforce. Mayo Clinic Health System and UW-Eau Claire share an enthusiasm for learning and discovery. We look forward to working side by side with faculty and students to transform the future of health care.”