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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.

All Medical School alumni, including the reunion classes of 1955, 1960, 1965, 1970, 1975, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2005, and 2010, are invited back to campus to reunite with friends, engage with students, and see what’s new at the Medical School. Join us for this annual celebration of the Medical School and its alumni. Don’t miss the chance to: Attend lectures, tours, and presentations to find out what’s new in medical...

The Medical Alumni Society is seeking nominations for the 2015 alumni awards. Honor a fellow alumnus with the Harold S. Diehl, Distinguished Alumni, Early Distinguished Career Alumni, or Alumni Philanthropy and Service Award. Winners will be recognized at the Medical School Alumni Awards Banquet on Thursday, September 17. For award criteria, nomination requirements, and a list of past recipients, visit Nominations are due by May 15....

The Medical Alumni Society needs your help with three new initiatives involving incoming and current medical students. First, in an effort to recruit even more students who are outstanding achievers, we are seeking alumni to contact newly accepted students and encourage them to attend the U of M Medical School. Second, to help meet an urgent and growing need for additional clinical training sites for our students, we are looking...


Graduating medical students gathered with family and friends at the U’s McNamara Alumni Center on March 20 for Match Day. Of the 241 students who were matched to a residency, 88 are staying in Minnesota, with 50 of them joining University of Minnesota programs. Half (120) of the students matched to primary care residencies in internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, and medicine-pediatrics. Learn more about Match Day results and...


U’s Department of Pediatrics celebrates 100 years In the century since the University admitted its first pediatric patient in 1911, the Department of Pediatrics has become one of the best in the nation, making discoveries that have changed the face of medicine worldwide. Among its many groundbreaking achievements, the University performed the world’s first successful pediatric bone marrow transplant and open-heart surgery using cross-circulation between a child and parent....


Combining two loves leads an alum to renown as an expert in a different type of body The first time, it occurred by happenstance. Steven Sirr, M.D., was the attending radiologist on duty at Hennepin County Medical Center one Saturday afternoon in 1987. He was in charge of three radiology residents who didn’t need much supervision, he recalls, so in his free time, he played his violin. “There was a...


Morris F. Collen, M.D., Class of 1938, Walnut Creek, Calif., died Sept. 27, 2014, at age 100. Dr. Collen worked with Kaiser Permanente for more than 70 years, and his research led to one of the first computer databases for tracking patients’ health. He also championed the early use of penicillin to treat pneumonia, developed multiphasic preventive exams to screen patients, and studied the effects of multiple prescription drugs...


U physician reaches out to build healthy communities When Michele Allen, M.D., Class of ’99, talks with people — patients in the exam room, struggling refugee and immigrant parents, social service providers — she sees opportunities, not problems. “As doctors, we’re trained to pathologize, to look for problems and fix them,” she explains. “But that’s a one-way approach, and we’re learning that we need to reframe who we think of as the expert...


Following her heart into women’s health Faduma Sharif’s path to medical school wasn’t quite linear: Her first application, during her junior year as an undergrad at the U majoring in biology, science, and environment, was rejected. But Sharif — who arrived in Minnesota from Somalia by way of Kenya, Missouri, and San Diego — has always been comfortable with the less direct route, knowing that each stop along the way offers valuable learning...

The University of Minnesota plays a vital role in the well-being of our state’s residents. It educates the next generation of health professionals, provides care across Minnesota, and conducts critical research to advance new treatments and cures. To succeed in that role, the University has requested $25.5 million from the state Legislature for the next biennium to fund Healthy Minnesota, a partnership with the state to strengthen Minnesota’s health care...


Allina Health’s new CEO aims to make patient care better as a means to making it more affordable If not for the wisdom of a 10th-grade English teacher, Penny Wheeler, M.D., might never have gone into medicine. Wheeler, now 56, grew up in the St. Paul suburb of Mendota Heights, and by high school she had developed a keen interest in photography. But her English instructor intervened: “She said,...


Identical twins Nicole and Stephanie Noyes are united in their quests to become doctors For the first time in their 23 years, identical twins Stephanie and Nicole Noyes are going it alone as they pursue their dreams to become doctors. These extremely close sisters both go to the University of Minnesota Medical School, but Nicki enrolled at the Duluth campus, while Steph attends in the Twin Cities. Though they are...


U scientists are gaining ground on Parkinson’s disease on multiple fronts “Parkinson’s patients are a bit like snowflakes,” says Jerrold Vitek, M.D., Ph.D., head of the Department of Neurology and director of the University’s Neuromodulation Research Center. “No two are alike. The symptoms can vary greatly from one patient to another — as can the effectiveness of the treatments available to them.” So it only makes sense that researchers are...


From calculus and probability theory to statistics and algebraic geometry, mathematics has become one of medicine’s most powerful tools “The great book of nature,” Galileo once reportedly said, “can be read only by those who know the language in which it was written. And this language is mathematics.” So true, agree scientists and mathematicians of all stripes at the University of Minnesota. Indeed, in the early 21st century, mathematicians...


The recent Ebola outbreak underscores the need for a well-trained, well-coordinated workforce to respond to the growing risk of pandemic diseases — and the U is on top of it His name was Emile. He was 2 years old and lived in Guéckédou, a city of about 250,000 in southern Guinea, not far from the borders of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Although we do not know Emile’s last name, he touched...


Location: Kampala, Uganda Mission: Ensuring that kids with malaria get the nutrition they need Iron kids Less than two months before this photo was taken last fall in Uganda, little Husina NamwaiyJe was terribly ill from malaria and iron deficiency, says Sarah Cusick, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics’ Division of Global Pediatrics. But she bounced back after being treated at Kampala’s Mulago Hospital, with which...

A University of Minnesota research team was awarded $2.6 million by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate new treatments for heart attacks. The research will focus on myocardial ischemia and reperfusion injury, which account for more than 300,000 deaths each year in the United States. The research team will work on developing new strategies to prevent the second wave of heart damage that can occur when blocked arteries...

University of Minnesota Health now has a state-of-the-art facility for Phase I clinical trials. The Early Phase Clinical Research Unit opened on August 31 and currently accepts patients who are participating in research studies at the U. The unit is located on the University of Minnesota Medical Center’s 5th floor in the Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Unit. Renovated last year, the BMT unit has single-patient rooms that are used...


The University of Minnesota Medical School’s largest department has a new leader. Peter Igarashi, M.D., began his tenure as head of the Department of Medicine and holder of the Nesbitt Chair on December 31. He succeeds Wesley Miller, M.D., who had held the positions since 2008. “Dr. Igarashi’s emphasis on team science, building global partnerships, and delivering clinical excellence is precisely right for the role,” says Medical School Dean...


The final report on a University of Minnesota study investigating the health of Minnesota’s taconite industry workers shows an association between mining dust exposure and cases of a rare cancer and, in response, urges increased monitoring and disease prevention initiatives for employees. Findings from the project, called the Minnesota Taconite Workers Health Study, were released December 1. “Mining is of great importance to the people of Minnesota and to...

A blue-ribbon committee created by Gov. Mark Dayton in August has made budget and policy recommendations to the state Legislature aimed at strengthening the U of M Medical School’s position as a national leader in medical training, research, and care. The recommendations support two primary goals: improving the Medical School’s national standing by expanding health care research focused on the state’s health priorities, and strengthening its educational programs to ensure...


With a passion for helping underserved, rural communities meet their health care needs, Paula Termuhlen, M.D., now plays a leading role in supporting that mission as regional campus dean for the Medical School’s Duluth campus. “I strongly believe we need to build a workforce that looks like the people we serve,” Termuhlen says. “We have a great opportunity to attract students, support them through school, train them, and return...


University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital has a new hub for information sharing among pediatrics specialists that will also serve as a gathering place for patients and families: the Wilf Family Center. Designed to be the intellectual center of children’s health care in the Midwest, the center is named in honor of the Wilf Family Foundation and its $5 million gift in December 2013 to build the center and...


Medical Bulletin | Spring 2015


Important information regarding alumni programs at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

A chance meeting with a U cardiologist likely saved Rick Christensen from a burst aortic aneurysm.

Fate works in funny ways. Just ask Rick Christensen, who learned he had a life-threatening aortic aneurysm after a chance meeting in 2012 with University of Minnesota Health cardiologist S. Kimara March, M.D.

Your annual gifts to support the University of Minnesota make a real difference to patients and their families. Did you know that you can continue to make a difference after your lifetime by including the University of Minnesota Foundation in your estate plan?


Tens of thousands of Minnesotans soon could be asking this question: Can a daily low-dose aspirin prevent a heart attack or stroke for me?

A “fibrin patch” made in the lab of Jianyi Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., may help improve the effectiveness of stem cell therapies for the heart. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

Stem cell therapy has been a hot topic in cardiovascular sciences for more than a decade. The theory is that if doctors can successfully introduce stem cells--unspecialized cells that have the remarkable ability to become different types of specialized cells as they grow—to areas of heart muscle that have been injured during a heart attack, the damage could be repaired.

Bob Allison and his three sons in the Minnesota Twins dugout

As the Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center rounds out its 25th year, board chair Mark Allison says there's plenty to be proud of. BAARC has raised nearly $7.5 million, and it has granted more than $2.3 million to 27 U of M researchers, who in turn have attracted an astounding $29.6 million from the National Institutes of Health.


A career of discovery and research progress has earned the University of Minnesota's Harry Orr, Ph.D., a spot in the prestigious Institute of Medicine.

Sheila Specker, M.D., studies the complex interplay of factors that keeps some people in the grips of alcohol or drug dependence. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

Addiction doesn't happen in a vacuum. As Department of Psychiatry associate professor Sheila Specker, M.D., has seen time and again, it's often accompanied by depression, bipolar disorder, an eating disorder, or another mental health problem. Sometimes it's one thread in a tangle of issues; often it's tough to tease out which problem came first.

The University of Minnesota's Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) is among the first to be awarded a federal grant resulting from President Obama's BRAIN Initiative, an effort to develop next-generation brain imaging technology.

Photo by Patrick O’Leary

University of Minnesota researchers hope a new vaccine for Epstein-Barr virus could guard against mono, multiple sclerosis, and certain blood cancers.


Four years ago, University of Minnesota neurology professor emeritus Arthur Klassen, M.D., donated $50,000 to start the Neurology Resident Educational Travel Scholarship, which was designed to help cash-strapped young residents attend important national conferences. So far, the fund has received support from 77 donors who have made 91 gifts totaling more than $131,000.

You've seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but did you know that the University of Minnesota ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Center is an ALS Association Certified Center of Excellence? That's the highest designation the ALS Association gives to recognize and support clinics it considers the best in the field.

Alfonso Araque, Ph.D., shipped this elaborate equipment, being used here to measure the electrical activity of a neuron, to the U from his lab in Spain. Photo: Jim Bovin

Alfonso Araque, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neuroscience and holder of the Robert and Elaine Larson Neuroscience Research Chair, is one of those investigators taking the path less charted, one who believes that solutions for brain diseases could lie in the shadowy world of the glia.


When graduate student Adam Steiner walked in and announced, "My rats are expressing regret," Department of Neuroscience Professor A. David Redish, Ph.D., could hardly believe it.


Enthusiastic. Knowledgeable. Funny. Organized. Passionate. Available. Medical School students, professors, and administrators alike rattled off this list of qualities that make good teachers great without hesitating. And many also agreed that great teachers of medicine, specifically, must have an additional set of attributes to truly excel.


Integrative therapies have been shown to reduce nausea, reduce stress, and help manage pain with fewer side effects than medications. At University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, leaders are recognizing that the best outcomes happen for kids who receive care and support for all aspects of their health.


Minnesota consistently rates as one of the country’s healthiest states—and is recognized as having one of the top health care systems—with a glaring exception: Minnesota has the largest health disparities in the country. So today a few University of Minnesota experts are taking aim at the vast disparities that segregate us into a nation of medical haves and have-nots.

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"Leaky pipes," an essay by Medical School student Missy McCoy, on social context behind disease in Cameroon


James G. Boulger, Ph.D., a charter faculty member of the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Duluth campus, has received the Rural Health Hero award from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Rural Health Association.


Labor induction or cesarean delivery without medical reason before babies reach 39 weeks gestational age, when they are considered full-term, can be associated with health problems for the newborns, according to University of Minnesota research.


U researchers have reported that rats can recognize when they've made a bad choice and change their behavior in response. And that is the essence of regret.

State legislators agreed last spring to fund efforts that could unlock new cures and treatments for some of the most devastating health conditions facing our population, allotting nearly $50 million over the next 10 years to regenerative medicine research in Minnesota.


Alan Johns, M.D., M.Ed., was one of the first students at the University of Minnesota Medical School's Duluth campus more than 40 years ago, and in July 2014 he became its interim dean.

As of July 1, 2014, University of Minnesota facilities, buildings, and grounds on the Duluth, Crookston, Rochester, and Twin Cities campuses are smoke- and tobacco-free.


With powerful University of Minnesota research as critical testimony, 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.


The University of Minnesota has renamed its children's hospital University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital following the announcement of a $25 million gift from Minnesota Masonic Charities and in recognition of the Masons' legacy of support.

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