Mayo Clinic duo 'nails it'

Marion (Toni) Turnbull, Ph.D. (left) and Christine Mehner, M.D., Ph.D. (right) stand together in the middle of a set of stairs.
Marion (Toni) Turnbull, Ph.D. (left) and Christine Mehner, M.D., Ph.D. (right)
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Mayo Clinic

When she was an orthopedics resident in her native Germany, Christine Mehner, M.D., Ph.D., noted that the nails used to set fractures didn’t provide the best possible outcomes to stabilize fractured long bones, such as the tibia, femur and humerus. In standard surgery to fix a tibia fracture, for example, a surgeon’s experience determines adequate positioning of the patient’s leg and foot to achieve proper alignment post-surgery. However, in more than 40% of cases, patients have an error in the rotation of the foot after surgery. A rotation error of more than 30 degrees from its original position can negatively affect the patient’s knee, hip and ankle over time.

Four years later, when Dr. Mehner was a predoctoral Ph.D. student at Mayo Clinic in Florida, the fracture nail issue resurfaced. She and her colleague Marion (Toni) Turnbull, Ph.D., a New Zealand native who is a research associate in the Department of Neurology, were brainstorming ideas for Mayo Clinic in Florida’s Alligator Tank competition in which aspiring entrepreneurs and inventors pitch ideas to a panel of expert judges.

This article is the third in the Young Innovators series. Each article features Mayo Clinic trainee inventors and explores their journeys as biomedical entrepreneurs. The Alligator Tank pitching competition is supported by the Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship, which is part of the Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

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