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Giving to medicine and health at the University of Minnesota

June 2006 Archives

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Imagine you've been diagnosed with cancer. You live in a small Minnesota town, and your doctor tells you that the best place to receive cancer treatment is at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis — hours away from home. In addition, your treatment will take weeks. How will you manage the trip? And how will you pay for an extended visit?

Unfortunately, many adults facing cancer find themselves in this situation. Each year, hundreds of patients and their families travel great distances to receive cancer care in the Twin Cities.

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When Anita McCullough's dear friend Jane Ehm was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, McCullough desperately wanted to do something to help her and other patients with lymphoma.

"Janie was very seriously ill, and I felt that the only hope was in research," says McCullough, who lives in Palm Desert, California. "She is like a daughter and a best friend to me. Her mother and I were college roommates and best friends, and I have known Janie since she was a little girl."

Thumbnail image for The tournament's four teams raised $3,150 for the Rasmussen Center. (Photo: Alena Demidova)

What started eight years ago as a benefit for one family has blossomed into a full-fledged hockey tournament that raises thousands of dollars a year for breast cancer research.

It all began when a so-called "hockey mom" in the Circle Pines Centennial Hockey Association got breast cancer, explains Jackie Olson, who now organizes the fund-raiser. "The family didn't have enough money to pay the bills, so Sue Olson, another mother in the association, and her family started this tournament," Olson says.

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It's difficult to find AGA Medical Corporation's Golden Valley office. Located on a frontage road off Highway 169 and tucked behind a sprawling business complex, it seems possible the company prefers to remain anonymous. But inside is something well worth discovering.

Just inside past the receptionist's desk, you'll find a wall of small, official-looking plaques — 13 in all. On closer inspection, it's clear that each one commemorates a patent for a unique, often life-saving medical device or procedure. And each one originated in the mind of Kurt Amplatz, M.D., 82, a revolutionary inventor and pioneer in interventional radiology and pediatric cardiology. In short, one of Minnesota's medical miracle-makers.

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Every summer, School of Public Health students take skills learned in the classroom and bring them to real-world settings. They embark on summer field experiences and make important contributions to communities around the globe. Packing a thirst for adventure and a strong commitment to improving public health, more than a dozen SPH students took on projects abroad this summer. They left the comforts of home and dove into different cultures to focus on making the world a better place.

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Good news for coffee drinkers: Drinking four or more cups of the brew per day may lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. The finding comes from an 11-year study of more than 28,000 postmenopausal women who answered questions about risk factors for diabetes, such as age, body mass index, physical activity, diet, and smoking.

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A University of Minnesota team is embarking on new research to identify the genes behind osteosarcoma, the most common type of bone cancer, and one that commonly affects children. SPH assistant professor Tracy Bergemann is partnering with Logan Spector and other colleagues in the Medical School's Department of Pediatrics. The researchers are in the planning stages of a three-year nationwide study of some 500 nuclear families with children afflicted with osteosarcoma.


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