Before a new drug or medical device can be made available to patients, it must go through lengthy and stringent testing through a clinical trial to make sure it's safe and effective. While these studies do carry some risk, they offer access to tomorrow's treatments right now. And the Lillehei Clinical Research Unit is there to make sure it's a safe process for participants and a smooth one for investigators.
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Discover what’s possible. Browse these features to find out more about the impact of University of Minnesota research, education, and care—and how you can help.
People who have diabetes are living longer, healthier lives today thanks to improved understanding and management of the disease. That’s good news. But along with this increase in longevity has come another reality: the list of potential complications associated with long-term diabetes—including eye, kidney, cardiovascular, and nerve problems—now also includes dementia and other brain disorders typically associated with advanced age.
The University of Minnesota’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR), where Elizabeth Seaquist, M.D., studies brain metabolism in people who have diabetes, is home to the world’s largest human scanning device. The 10.5 Tesla, whole-body human magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) magnet is nearly 10 times stronger than most medical MRI scanners.
Finding a cure for diabetes is a longtime passion for immunologist Brian Fife, Ph.D. It’s also deeply personal. He has a cousin with diabetes and for more than 40 years Fife has observed the impact of this devastating autoimmune disease on her life firsthand. “Statistics would say that my chances of developing diabetes were equal to my cousin’s,” Fife says soberly. “But I was lucky. I only got allergies.”
In 2002, Leah Arnold was a newly married college graduate preparing to take the Medical College Admissions Test when she noticed a lump on her neck. Doctors told her it was related to stress, but over the next several months, the lump in her neck grew, and she began having trouble breathing and swallowing. A tumor stretching from her neck to her heart was later discovered. Arnold was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
"Drug resistance is a primary reason for cancer treatment failure," says mathematician and Masonic Cancer Center member Jasmine Foo, Ph.D., "but what if we dosed differently? If we changed the strategy of delivering the drugs, could we get better results?" Today Foo is trying to answer these questions by creating mathematical models that predict how cancers will grow and when they become resistant to treatment.
On August 1, Minnesotan kids under age 18 were forced to rethink their indoor tanning habits. Backed by Masonic Cancer Center research as evidence, Gov. Mark Dayton in May signed a bill into law that prohibits minors from using indoor tanning beds, making Minnesota the eighth state to pass such a law.
On any given day, the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital treats as many as 50 babies, all of whom were born preterm or have other serious health issues. It can take weeks, or even months, for these babies to become healthy enough to go home—which means that parents often must return to work or go home to be with their other children, leaving their sick babies in the hospital.
On a humid day in urban China, a thick haze of smog can make people across the street virtually invisible. The evidence of air pollution in China is jarring at best. At worst, it's toxic--air pollution can lead to cancer, respiratory infections, nervous system problems, and birth defects. Worldwide, air pollution is to blame for about 7 million deaths every year, according to the World Health Organization. It's a problem too large to ignore, even from halfway around the globe. So the University of Minnesota's David Pui, Ph.D., convened a group of his fellow faculty members and arranged a meeting with colleagues in China to address the health effects of this pollution.
Five years ago, Brian and Annette Call were looking for a fun night out when they attended their first Winefest—A Toast to Children’s Health, an event that benefits children’s health research, education, and care at the University of Minnesota. They did not expect the evening to be life changing.
Loss of vision due to retinopathy is one of the long-term and potentially disabling complications of diabetes. A degenerative disorder, it sneaks up gradually. But what triggers diabetic retinopathy? University of Minnesota neuroscientist Eric Newman, Ph.D., who has studied the retina for more than 35 years, thinks he knows, and he's now testing a simple means that could combat it.
At the University of Minnesota Medical Center today, the lung transplant waiting list is half the length it was six months ago, thanks in part to a new technology that's making more donated lungs worthy of transplantation. "For some patients, that is the difference between life and death," says U assistant professor of surgery and cardiothoracic surgeon Gabriel Loor, M.D.
Though Tom Anderson is a University of Minnesota alumnus ('80 B.S.), his most vivid memories of campus are from his childhood. That's because in the fall of 1963, Anderson spent about a month at the Variety Club Heart Hospital after having a risky open-heart surgery to repair his congenital atrial septal defect, which causes reduced oxygen in the body's blood supply and gets progressively worse. At the time, even under the skilled care of the University team that pioneered the procedure, it carried a 50-50 chance of success.
At Family Camp Weekends hosted by the University of Minnesota's Paul and Sheila Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center, "you'll see families just being families," says Joline Dalton, M.S., C.G.C., a U genetics counselor who helped start the wildly popular camp five years ago. "It's a place where you don't have to worry if your child can participate, because everything is geared toward MD."
A simple blood test, in conjunction with a flu diagnosis, was a blessing in disguise for 5-year-old Ethan Fisher. Fortunately, the hematologist who followed up on Ethan’s low platelet count recognized the possibility of a Fanconi anemia (FA) diagnosis and ordered tests. Sure enough, despite the rarity of this hereditary anemia, Ethan had it—meaning he would need regular blood tests and, eventually, a bone marrow transplant.
Back in 2010, Sarah Ewald was a high school senior and alpine skier. When she noticed a bump on her foot, she assumed it was a sports injury. But at the close of ski season, she visited a physician to determine why the bump wouldn’t go away. Her doctor diagnosed alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive sarcoma that only affects one in one million children and adolescents. Sarah began chemotherapy the week after diagnosis. That August, surgery removed her spleen and half of her pancreas, where the cancer had spread. Radiation and more chemo followed.
Most University of Minnesota pediatric patient stories have a similar start: Parents discover a medical issue and find their way to University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital. Not so with Lexi and Austin Jensen, each born with only one partially functioning kidney. First, they arrived at the U of M Children’s Hospital—one of the world’s leading kidney transplant centers—and then they found their parents.
Masonic Cancer Center leaders unveiled a permanent tribute to the center's founding director, John Kersey, M.D., in the new Cancer and Cardiovascular Research Building on May 13. The display is prominently featured in the lobby of the building, which is open to the public--a rarity for research facilities.
Up until about four years ago, Mike Fahning thought of his Parkinson's disease as an irritant. His medications seemed to be managing the involuntary movements that are a hallmark of the disease, with which he was diagnosed at age 38. But one Sunday in 2010, Fahning was at home doing housework when suddenly he couldn't move. His medications had worn off, and he was stuck. Though Fahning wasn't familiar with the term at the time, he was experiencing "freezing of gait," a complication of Parkinson's disease that is simply described as a temporary and involuntary inability to move.
David Bond, M.D., Ph.D., has spent his professional life delving into problems that lie deep within the human brain. Having recently completed his Ph.D. in neuroscience, and with in-depth experience in both clinical treatment for people who have bipolar disorder and research into brain malfunctions, Bond proved to be an unbeatable candidate to lead the University's new Bipolar Disorder Clinic, which is scheduled to open this summer.
Dick Huston, D.V.M., and his wife, Glenda, were so passionate about education that, years ago, they established scholarships at nine different colleges, including the University of Minnesota. After Glenda died suddenly in 2010, her careful estate planning resulted in not just a substantial increase for the Glenda Taylor Huston Scholarship of Courage at the U but also funds to support bipolar disorder research at the institution.
Sameer Gupta, M.D., has a passion for tending to sick kids. A critical care physician at University of Minnesota Children's Hospital, Gupta deals with tough situations every day, fighting diseases that have brought youngsters into the hospital--the scariest of places for worried parents. But what those parents don't see is how hard Gupta works behind the scenes to prevent already sick kids from getting sicker--from what medical professionals call "hospital-acquired conditions."
University of Minnesota pediatric physicians and researchers are illuminating discovery, fostering hope and healing for children and their families when they need it most. Join us to celebrate U of M advances in children's health at WineFest No. 19--A Toast to Children's Health on May 9 and 10 at the Depot in Minneapolis.
Previously discarded as medical waste, blood gathered from the placenta and umbilical cord after childbirth holds potential for treating deadly and debilitating diseases. Now, as more centers are beginning to collect and bank this valuable blood, University of Minnesota researchers and clinicians are at the forefront of developing its promise.
As partnerships go, this one's a slam dunk. It began with a $100,000 gift last summer from Sport Ngin to build the Sport Ngin Sport Court alongside the Sullivan Playground on the front lawn of University of Minnesota Children's Hospital. Today, Sport Ngin employees are so fired up about the Sport Court and what it might mean for young patients that they're making a full-court press to host a monthly basketball tournament there.
Throughout his life, Paul McCarron served as an advocate for public health and human services. As a Minnesota legislator, he was the architect behind the Community Social Services Act (CSSA), landmark welfare-reform legislation. For another project, he went undercover as a janitor so he could see firsthand the conditions at state hospitals.
Russell Johnson, '13 M.D., took a year away from his formal medical education to be part of a clinical research team at the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh, situated in the heart of Bangladesh's capital city, Dhaka -- one of the world's most densely populated and rapidly growing cities.
Thomas J. Crowley, '62 M.D., discovered the joys of mountain skiing through the University of Minnesota Ski Club. The Minneapolis native's first trip west took him to Aspen for some traditional downhill skiing. But over time he discovered his true passion was for the backcountry. He did worry, however, about the very real and ever-present danger of avalanches. After a fair bit of tinkering, Crowley invented and patented the AvaLung.
The debilitating, often deadly disease of type 1 diabetes mellitus still has not been conquered. But 40 years ago, because seven forward-looking patients volunteered to be injected with tiny clusters of cells from donated pancreases, University of Minnesota scientists took a huge step toward taming diabetes.
The University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Physicians (UMP), and Fairview Health Services in February launched a new brand, University of Minnesota Health, representing the closer integration of the three organizations and their shared commitment to delivering the best possible care to patients.