October 27, 2009—The board of trustees of the Minnesota Medical Foundation (MMF) at the University of Minnesota held its annual meeting on October 26 to approve the foundation’s audited financial results for fiscal year 2009 and to elect new board members. The foundation reported fiscal year-end giving of $124.9 million, a record for the University’s second-largest foundation.
October 2009 Archives
In 1991, Arne Divine began losing his sight because of ischemic optic neuropathy (ION), caused by an obstruction of the blood flowing to his optic nerve. The condition ultimately robbed him of nearly half of his vision and has had a profound impact on his life.
"You lose your independence when you have impaired vision," says Divine, who is 80 years old.
For years, Rita Perlingeiro, Ph.D., has been looking for ways to use embryonic stem cells to improve muscle function. Now the University of Minnesota researcher's findings could advance new therapies for muscular dystrophy, a devastating disease characterized by progressive degeneration of the muscles that control movement.
In a study published in the October issue of Experimental Neurology, Perlingeiro and her team showed that transplanting embryonic stem cells that have "specialized" into skeletal muscle stem cells into mice with Duchenne muscular dystrophy can restore function to defective muscles.
If his research findings are any indication, business should soon be thriving. "Fixing hearts is what I think about all day, every day, 365 days a year," says Metzger, chair of the University of Minnesota Medical School's Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology. "My colleagues and I take a basic science approach to the problem—how we might apply modern technologies to improve the functionality of the diseased heart."
A native of Minnesota, Metzger previously worked at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, where he directed its Center for Integrative Genomics. Now back in Minnesota, he hopes to expand and perfect some of his most promising research.
Kleptomania, compulsive hair pulling, gambling addiction, and other impulse control disorders are notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat. Recent research through the University of Minnesota's Impulse Control Disorders Clinic offers hope to people suffering from these debilitating and often embarrassing behaviors.
A research team led by University of Minnesota biochemist James Ervasti, Ph.D., is yielding promising results in the search for a treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the most common form of muscular dystrophy in children. Duchenne, which affects only boys (though girls can be carriers), is caused by a genetic mutation preventing the body's production of dystrophin, a protein crucial to maintaining muscle structure. Without it, muscles stop working and deteriorate. The disease is often fatal by age 20.
It's an exciting time in Alzheimer's disease research at the University of Minnesota. The world-renowned Nun Study, initiated here in 1986, returned to the University in March after nearly 20 years away and is still netting key insights into Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. And the leading-edge research conducted in the University's N. Bud Grossman Center for Memory Research and Care continues to gain momentum as it shifts its focus to prevention.
Curt O'Hagan is fond of remarking that seven years after his diagnosis of primary lateral sclerosis (PLS), a degenerative motor neuron disease similar to the fasterprogressing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease), he is still a pest to his friends and family. And they're thrilled about it. To honor O'Hagan, they generously support Curt's Classic, a golf event sponsored by Crystal Lake Golf Club in Lakeville to benefit PLS/ALS research at the University of Minnesota.
A $100,000 grant from the Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center is making possible a University of Minnesota resource that could help researchers solve the mysteries of a debilitating neuromuscular disease. The funding will allow researchers to collect and store DNA samples from thousands of people with hereditary ataxia.
"Time is brain" is a familiar refrain in neurology circles. That's because the more quickly a stroke victim receives treatment, the greater the likelihood of recovery. The most common kind of stroke, called ischemic stroke, is caused by a blockage of blood flow to a region of the brain. Ischemic strokes account for 85 percent of all strokes suffered in the United States each year.
Dan Falvey, a third‐year medical student at the University of Minnesota, wants to help others through mission work. Thanks to scholarship support, he’s coming closer to reaching that dream every day. “I think health care providers can help people in a way that no one else can,” says Falvey, who is considering emergency medicine as his specialty. “My wife is finishing a master’s of nursing program, and one of our goals is to do medical mission work together.” Making dreams like that possible is just what Emily Gates, M.D., Medical School Class of 1939, had in mind when she established a charitable remainder trust with the Minnesota Medical Foundation (MMF) in 1991.
Jeanne McGahee has always used her talents to help others. She began her career as a program director at the YWCA and worked for the organization in three different states over 17 years. After earning a master’s degree in social work in Colorado in 1966, McGahee was a social worker in the Minneapolis public schools system for 22 years. In her free time, she was an avid traveler. “I went around the world visiting many countries. I have enjoyed freighter trips as well. It was marvelous,” McGahee says. In May 2005, her positive outlook was tested when she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer.
Most major medical discoveries don't happen in a single lab; they result from close collaboration across multiple institutions, often over many years. That's why it was big news when University of Minnesota researchers learned in October that they had received a seven-year collaboration grant to help develop the high-potential field of stem cell therapy.
Kay Quam has been a "cat person" for as long as she can remember.
She grew up on a farm and was used to dogs and barn cats running all over. In one photograph of her at 18 months old, she's holding a stuffed animal—a cat, naturally. But it wasn't until adulthood that she knew what it was like to have an indoor cat.