In July 1990, dissecting a disease’s effects kept James D. Schmelzer’s research work interesting and challenging from day to day.
As supervisor of the Neurophysiology Laboratory and Autonomic Reflex Laboratory, Schmelzer participated in research on peripheral nerves, specifically nerve blood flow and oxygen delivery within the nerve. The research focused on diabetes and how it can damage peripheral nerves outside the central nervous system.
Schmelzer had a keen interest in probing the effects of diabetes and seeking information that could benefit people with diabetes.
“Most of our research relates to diabetes and its effects,” he said. “We want to understand what diabetes is doing to the peripheral nervous system—then try to decide what we can do to reverse some of the abnormalities it causes. Hopefully, what we learn will one day help diabetic patients.”
Schmelzer came to Mayo in 1979 and was the lead technician in Dr. Phillip Low’s Neurophysiology Laboratory. Schmelzer's technical skills and research efforts were among the reasons he was selected as the 33rd Mayo Clinic paramedical staff member to receive Associate status. The Associate distinction recognizes paramedical employees for their contributions to medical practice, education, and research.
In nominating Schmelzer for Associate status, Dr. Low noted Schmelzer’s growing technical and administrative skills and his progressive development as an investigator.
“Jim has been a key figure in the developmental aspects of my research program,” Dr. Low said. “His level of expertise is that of a postdoctoral fellow and, in some areas, is superior to that of a postdoctoral fellow.”