The Incubator

🟠 CHNC 2023 COVERAGE - Open Mic w CHNC Mentored fellows - Whitney Thompson

October 13, 2023 Ben Courchia & Daphna Yasova Barbeau
The Incubator
🟠 CHNC 2023 COVERAGE - Open Mic w CHNC Mentored fellows - Whitney Thompson
Show Notes Transcript

Meet Whitney Thompson, a 2023 Mentored Fellow from Mayo Clinic who is charting a unique path through a combined fellowship in neonatology and medical genetics. Whitney opens up about her groundbreaking study on neonatal onset urea cycle disorders. 

As always, feel free to send us questions, comments, or suggestions to our email: nicupodcast@gmail.com. You can also contact the show through Instagram or Twitter, @nicupodcast. Or contact Ben and Daphna directly via their Twitter profiles: @drnicu and @doctordaphnamd. The papers discussed in today's episode are listed and timestamped on the webpage linked below.

Enjoy!

Speaker 1:

Hello everybody, welcome back to the podcast. We are joined by Whitney Thompson. Whitney, Thank you and welcome. Thanks so much for having me Very excited to be here, of course, come closer than I, come closer All right.

Speaker 3:

So you are the 2023 Mentored Fellow. So, you've just started fellowship. Is that right, Correct? Tell us where you're at and what is your area of interest.

Speaker 2:

Sure. So I am at Mayo Clinic, which is home for me. I'm originally from Rochester and I'm actually doing a combined fellowship in neonatology and medical genetics.

Speaker 3:

Very valuable.

Speaker 1:

I have a feeling as to where this is going to go now.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and I'm studying BPD no no.

Speaker 2:

So for my Mentored Fellow project, the focus is on benchmarking outcomes and looking at best practices for management of neonatal onset urea cycle disorders.

Speaker 3:

Wow, very interesting, very low frequency.

Speaker 2:

It is, and that's why this is such a great opportunity, because, as you can imagine, really hard to study this at any single institution because of how rare these disorders are, and so there's actually over 500 cases in the database from the C-HNC, so really cool opportunity.

Speaker 1:

What prompted you to pursue this particular area?

Speaker 2:

So I'm of course very interested in genetics in the NICU setting, and I know you talked with our focus group leaders from Genomics yesterday, yeah, and how rapid genome sequencing in the NICU is now our first line test, and that's what we're doing at Mayo. And so now, with our increased ability to diagnose rare disorders quickly in the NICU, it's especially important now to figure out kind of best practices for management. And so that's kind of what led to deciding on this project, and I've always just been interested in metabolic disorders as well.

Speaker 3:

And I mean, I think your idea of the double fellowship is, I think, one that we're going to see more often. So tell us a little bit about how that works.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So I agree, I think it's going to be something that is going to be offered by the boards in the coming years because of how much interest there is. I basically I was planning to do MFM and genetics throughout most of medical school and then I did a NICU sub-eye and I just fell in love with the intersection of genetics and NICU and so I went into residency knowing I wanted to do this path and basically we just proposed to the boards and they agreed and I switch off every month between the two fellowships. That's tough, it's tough, but it's a lot of fun. It's a nice balance of inpatient, outpatient.

Speaker 1:

You make it sound as if you're going month to month, but I am 100% sure.

Speaker 3:

You have some calls in there.

Speaker 1:

Right, when the genetics fellow is also on, I'm sure you get some calls, some curbsides.

Speaker 2:

Oh, absolutely. I'm on 24-7.

Speaker 1:

That's very good. I'm kind of the go-to person now for. Whitney quick question.

Speaker 2:

What do you think about? I actually just answered one right before. I got here, but I love it. So it's exciting and we're doing so much genetic testing in our NICU now.

Speaker 1:

And yeah, because our geneticist at our previous institution stopped coming to the cafeteria. And I was like what happened? It's like, yeah, I just can't eat.

Speaker 3:

Somebody's always bothering me and let me ask you. I'm not consulting, that's right, and so genetics.

Speaker 1:

are you seeing also adult patients?

Speaker 2:

I'm seeing a lot of adult patients which is new. And I'm enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would, but my hope is so. We're working on starting a NICU genetics follow-up clinic for all of our patients who are getting genome in the NICU. So my hope is that I'm going to slowly kind of take that over as my project, because that's really the population I'm most interested in and my research is really to follow those patients over time who have had genome.

Speaker 3:

So I know you're just getting started, but what are the kinds of things you're hoping to look at and hoping to achieve in improving quality of life for these patients?

Speaker 2:

So, specifically for this project, patients with ureocycle disorders. If you look in the literature, there is almost nothing out there about management in the immediate neonatal period, and so our hope is to really figure out why are some patients doing better than others and how can we best manage these patients in the NICU and how can we identify these patients quickly. So I think that's where this mentored fellow project is going to be really valuable. Outside of this project, I'm very interested in the implementation of rapid genome in the NICU and my main research project is figuring out how we can follow these kids over time and increase our yield of genome as we get new phenotype information over time.

Speaker 3:

And so you're the newest mentored fellow. I recall that by this point in my fellowship, just a few months in, I still had no idea what this is going to study or how I was going to do it. So how did that work for you Like? What was the application like?

Speaker 1:

Let me ask you one more question, then. Yes, did you do residency at the same institution? I did yes.

Speaker 2:

And I'm actually in a clinician investigator track, so I knew I wanted to do a lot of research, and so I've. You know, my fellowship was set really at the end of my first year of residency, and so I've had a lot of time to think about and I've. I did grad school in medical genetics before medical school, so I've known this is my area of interest. Yes, the big change was going from doing MFM to NICU. But I've always known this is kind of my area of interest, so that has helped.

Speaker 1:

And I think that's one of the advantages of trying to do your training at a single institution over the course of six years. Seriously, I mean.

Speaker 3:

I know I did that Right.

Speaker 1:

I still do, but I didn't, and that meant that projects had to be three years, right, I mean I right and so that was quite difficult. That's quite difficult. I had the opportunity to stay at my training institution, but I did it. But it is what it is. I think that's one of the big advantages that you're able to hit the ground running when fellowship time comes.

Speaker 3:

I'd still like to know a little bit about the process. You know when? When did you guys have to submit for the the mentored award.

Speaker 2:

Sure, so I think it was March of last year was kind of the initial. You submit a one page kind of letter of intent and then they review and I think we heard in a couple months later, went to submit a full proposal and I think my year they picked three fellows to submit a full proposal and that was a five page kind of detailed what, what exactly are you going to be studying and going through kind of the manual for the database and saying exactly what data points you're going to you're going to want to pick out. And then I heard in July it was my first day of fellowship is what I heard. So it's very exciting, that's great Way to start fellowship, yeah. Not a bad, not a bad way to start.

Speaker 1:

We usually welcome first day of fellowship with some calls and some blood gases and yeah, that's kind of nice. Well, any other questions after?

Speaker 3:

No, I think you've given us a lot of information. We're really looking forward to seeing what you do. I don't like working up those Urea cycle disorders. I don't like it.

Speaker 2:

Hopefully we can come up with a guideline that would be great.

Speaker 1:

That would help us a lot. We'll be looking out for that. That's my location.

Speaker 2:

I'll look forward to updating you next year on the results.

Speaker 1:

That sounds like a great plan, thank you, thank you so much Thank you.