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January 2010 Archives

Bonnie and Lee M. Espeland, M.D.

In the four decades since he graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School, Lee M. Espeland, M.D., Class of 1967, has observed dramatic changes that have made it increasingly difficult for students to pursue a worldclass medical education. "Medical school is different now," says Espeland. "When I went through my training, the cost of a medical education was significantly less than it is now. It's not uncommon now for a medical student to leave school with a debt of $150,000 or more." Toward the end of Espeland's 40-year career in anesthesiology and chronic pain, he and his wife, Bonnie, chose to help those following in his footsteps.

Using his Fisch award, medical student Justin Finch photographed teens living on the streets in Camden, Maine.

Casual sex does not cause emotional or psychological distress for young people, finds SPH researchers. The study began with the expectation that casual sex would be associated with higher rates of depression, more suicidal thoughts, and lower self-esteem. But after analyzing the responses of 1,311 young Minnesotans, there was no difference among those who engaged in casual sex and those in committed relationships.

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SPH experts explore the complicated issues around how to eat better, together, more safely, and as a global community. We've just emerged from the "food decade." In the last 10 years, entire food broadcast networks have sprung up, journalist-turned-professor and bestselling author Michael Pollan reached food superstar status, the Farm Bill moved from wonkish obscurity onto the front page, and organics became big business.

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Many of you might remember the beloved dog Batman, who became the first dog to participate in a novel brain cancer vaccine study at the University of Minnesota, from our Medical Bulletin cover story last spring.

For 18 months after his treatment, according to his family, Batman was like a puppy again. But sadly, Batman died January 18. Though the autopsy report is still pending, Batman appears to have been tumor-free.

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In the 1960s, cancer most often meant a dire prognosis. The percentage of people living at least five years after being diagnosed was in the single digits for most cancers.

But today the National Cancer Institute reports that about two-thirds of people diagnosed with cancer are expected to live at least five years after diagnosis.

Better technologies and advances in ways to detect and treat cancer receive much of the credit for these improving survival rates. And now that more people are living longer after cancer, investigators are taking on a relatively new branch of cancer research — survivorship.

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Each year, surgeons in the University of Minnesota’s Center for Lung Science and Health (CLSH) perform 20 to 50 lung transplants on patients who have pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—all devastating illnesses for which transplants are often the only option.

Thumbnail image for Nicholas Modjeski is happy to be pursuing a family medicine residency.

SPH students continue to benefit from two scholarship matching programs. The President’s Scholarship Match and 21st Century Graduate Fellowship Endowment double the impact of newly endowed scholarships for students completing their PhD, MPH, MS, and MHA degrees. The matching programs have invigorated SPH donors, who have endowed 11 new scholarships during the past year.

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The intersection of health and law grabbed Crystal Liu’s attention when she was an undergrad at the University of California, Berkeley. After spending a year in Australia studying the regulation of assisted reproductive technologies as a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar, Liu in 2006 enrolled in the MPH/JD joint degree program in public health administration and policy and law at the University of Minnesota. She felt that the cross-disciplinary program would be a great way to nurture her interests.

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Innovation and scientific exploration are key components to pushing the threshold of achievement in public health. That notion has fueled Dean Kamen to become one of the country’s top inventors, and it is a message he will bring to his keynote address, "Innovation and Health Care Reform," at the third annual Alumni and Friends Scholarship Gala on April 1.


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