Pharmacist-Led Research at Mayo Clinic: Advancing Patient Care, Treatment Opportunities


Jodi Taraba, PharmD, MS, BCOP, offers insights on the benefits of involving oncology pharmacists in clinical trial research to advance treatment and care for patients with cancer.

Jodi Taraba, PharmD, MS, BCOP, a breast cancer clinical pharmacist at Mayo Clinic, offers insights into the pivotal role of pharmacists in driving clinical trial research and enhancing patient care and treatment outcomes at Mayo Clinic. Her comments on the benefits of integrating oncology pharmacists in clinical research reveal a promising future for comprehensive patient care.

Pharmacy Times: What drew you to Mayo Clinic and what’s unique about the program here?

Jodi Taraba, PharmD, MS, BCOP: I had done my PGY-1 residency here many years ago now and had gotten a little taste of the institution when I was there and how special it was. When you leave the institution—if you don't have an experience of leaving mayo and kind of seeing other programs out here—you don't truly appreciate Mayo itself and what it has to offer. And so, when I did my PGY-1 and worked in other institutions, I recognized how collaborative how forward thinking the practices are here. Just the people that work here, from providers to nurses to the staff. Everyone is very collaborative working towards a common goal of really putting the patient first.

Pharmacy Times: What is your role and the focus of your work as an oncology pharmacist within the department?

Taraba: I work within the breast cancer pharmacy oncologists there and much of my focus focuses on oral therapies. I do a lot of the CDK4/6monitoring and a lot of the other newer therapies, as well as some IV therapy. We work under a collaborative practice agreement. I really see patients independently and on my own. So, I can adjust supportive care, we can adjust chemo dosing, oral therapy, dosing, all independently. It's been a really rewarding practice. I get to see patients multiple times over the course of their treatment and really develop relationships with them. I really feel that's probably one of the most rewarding aspects of the position is just developing those relationships and seeing how decisions that you make, treatment, and supportive care can help improve their outcomes and ability to tolerate therapy.

Pharmacy Times: Can you describe your work with clinical research and what your process is for connecting patients to clinical trials?

Taraba: So as part of our group, our provider spent a lot of time focusing on the trials that we have open both with myself, as well as our other advanced practice providers. And really focusing in on what patients would qualify for and what are some of the things to look for. So, when I'm seeing patients and monitoring them on therapies, I'm always looking for next treatment. But what are they on right now? What would they qualify for next? Is there a study open? When tumor sequencing is done sometimes that will come back and I’ll reach out to the provider and saying, “hey, this patient has this particular mutation. We should possibly consider this trial next if and when they happen to progress.” So, that, as well as I participated in the writing of some of our Mayo funded trials. We just had a study published. We found one where I wrote the privacy section and was heavily involved in that, as well as kind of my own research looking at laboratory adherence, monitoring when pharmacists are involved with care and things like that. So, I think there’s a lot of opportunity to get involved from any aspect of research within the clinical setting.

Pharmacy Times: Within the scope of breast cancer research and treatment, what specific areas or advancements are you currently monitoring for further development or breakthroughs?

Taraba: One of the big areas is the oral SERDs. That's a new area that we're starting to see, [sic] and some of the other ones in combination that we're seeing in studies as well. It's probably the big area. From what I see, the antibody drug conjugates are another big area and sequencing of those right now.

Pharmacy Times: Can you provide insight into the patient experience of getting connected to clinical trials through the pharmacy?

Taraba: One patient that had some sequencing done and qualified for a trial had mentioned it to the provider in the group. During her provider visit, it was decided she go on therapy. One of the things that I remember is before she went on therapy, she said, “Can I sit down with you and discuss this first because I want to make sure that you are in support of me going on this trial.” I got to sit down with her and share the risks, the benefits, those types of things. So, I said, just developing those relationships, and then being able to help patients make a decision on what would be best for them in connection with their provider.

pharmacist oncology patient treatment

Image Credit: © Konstantin Yuganov -

Pharmacy Times: Have you had experiences practicing at institutions other than Mayo Clinic during your career? If so, how did those experiences compare in terms of clinical environment and patient care practices?

Taraba: After my training, I did some residency in Texas and spent some time working down there. Like I said, when you leave, you're just like, “Wait a minute, this institution doesn't do this.” That’s some of the Mayo-isms that are very specific to that. When at the other sites, it was more of a research type of focus. So, I didn't get to see us as much from that setting. But I will definitely say the patient facing or patient involvement that we have here is definitely much more involved, much higher level than what I've seen at other institutions that I've practiced.

Pharmacy Times: What is your level of involvement in clinical trials and what is the benefit of pharmacist-led research in advancing medical knowledge and patient care?

Taraba: I've done a little bit here and there. One of the benefits that I do see to pharmacist led research is when you're trying to establish in a practice, I think it gives you another route for incorporating yourself into the practice. And I think providers see you at a higher level and can see what pharmacists can do research wise. I think once you can kind of get in and show them what pharmacy can do as far as a research perspective, they'll continue to reach out for other projects, or asking do you have an interest in this. Do you want to participate on this study? And so, it opens some doors there. And then, I think even from a practice perspective, they're comfortable working with you and what you can do and really then turn to you for clinical autonomy and opportunities there.

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