Dr. E. Rolland Dickson ’55, an internationally renowned medical specialist in liver transplant and liver disease, and professor emeritus of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, has spent more than 40 years at the Mayo Clinic. Dickson’s lifelong commitment to medicine may have started in medical school, but has carried forward in his work. He is responsible for pioneering new treatments for end-stage liver diseases and has conducted research into relatively unknown liver diseases. That research was a foundation for the Mayo Clinic, which is now the largest liver transplant center in the world.
He was the Rev. Billy Graham’s doctor and has mentored young physicians and researchers throughout his time at Mayo. In 2013, 10 years after his retirement, he founded the Dr. E. Rolland Dickson Endowed Scholarship at OWU to provide tuition support for pre-med and science students.
In 2015, he worked to facilitate an internship opportunity for OWU students at Mayo. He connected Alexandra Cook ’16, a biochemistry major, with a former protege of his, Dr. Timothy Nelson, a cardiologist at Mayo.
Cook is one of several OWU students who have had summer internships at the Mayo Clinic. “These are wonderful young people, and we’ve been very pleased with how well they’ve done in the lab — we’ve had a very, very good relationship with the Ohio Wesleyan students,” Dickson said. “And I think they’ve come away with a new understanding of some of the science we do at the Mayo Clinic.”
Dickson said Ohio Wesleyan and the Mayo Clinic are a natural fit.
“Both Mayo and Wesleyan have the same doctrine,” he said. “What is really going to serve our nation, our people, at the best level — both in education and science? How can we stimulate our students to live up to their greatest potential? We are real believers in bettering society here at Mayo, and Ohio Wesleyan has the same focus. It is the goal to optimize these students’ skills and talents to the best interests of our society.”
Alexandra Cook ’16
Alexandra Cook was a biochemistry major minoring in physics at OWU when she landed the internship at the Mayo Clinic in the summer of 2015. For three months, she worked with Dr. Timothy Nelson and his team, creating stem cells from other cells, looking for a solution for a disease that causes children to be born with half-developed hearts. The condition requires many surgeries at a young age, and ultimately, a heart transplant.
She returned to the Mayo Clinic in July 2016 for a post-bachelor’s degree graduate research program, where she managed her own projects and conducted experiments on genetic mutations. She also worked with middle school students, guiding them through experiments and building their interest in science.
“I was very fortunate and very lucky to have great mentors every step of the way — at the Mayo Clinic, and at Ohio Wesleyan,” she says. “And my work there gave me a broader understanding of the world and what might be available to me — there aren’t just three paths of scientist, doctor, or teacher; you can do a culmination of two or all three.”
After leaving the Mayo Clinic, she went on to earn a graduate degree in chemical engineering from Columbia University. This past winter, she accepted a full-time position with Celgene, a biopharmaceutical company in Summit, New Jersey.
Eric Baughman ’17
In the summer of 2016, Eric Baughman was a rising senior at OWU and traveled to Rochester, Minnesota, to conduct research with Dr. Nelson. He spent eight weeks helping Nelson and his research team try to understand the same disease Cook researched.
“Before then, I knew that I wanted to go into medicine,” Baughman says. “So this was a really good opportunity for me, because it was research, and I got to do some shadowing in the clinic. I really got to see both sides of medicine.”
Now, Baughman is in his second year of medical school at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Dublin, Ohio.
“The internship really affirmed my commitment to medicine,” he says. “And I think it helped me get into medical school.”