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Giving to medicine and health at the University of Minnesota

March 2011 Archives

Jaclyn Doffin holding Sophia and Tony Doffin holding Grace and Tyler. (Submitted photo)

When Jaclyn and Tony Doffin found out that they were having triplets, they got busy planning for their new life with three infants. One of the triplets was diagnosed with a heart condition prior to birth, but the family never anticipated the devastating complications that their baby would have as a result. When the triplets, Tyler, Sophia, and Grace, were born on September 8, 2008, doctors quickly determined that Grace had a more severe case of hypoplastic right heart syndrome than originally thought. “She was born with three [heart] chambers,” explains Tony. “She was missing the one that pumped [blood] to the lungs.”

Double-lung transplant survivor Jamie Hammer with her husband, Chris, and stepdaughter, Jillian.

For Jamie Hammer, 31, cystic fibrosis (CF) has always been a major part of her daily life. Diagnosed when she was 5 months old, Jamie has always lived with daily chest-pounding therapies, 50-pills-a-day regimens, daily IV treatments, and a host of related complications. But this past winter, all that changed—for the better.

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Taryn Lambrecht, M.D., took note of her patient’s symptoms. The 30-something woman felt unusually tired and sluggish, and she’d gained some weight. Her muscles and joints ached. Lambrecht, a primary care physician at Allina Woodlake Medical Clinic in Richfield, didn’t have to reach far to surmise what was going on. Because the patient had been treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma 10 years earlier, she faced an increased risk for hypothyroidism. This was one of the potential late complications of being treated with head and neck radiation, as described in a report Lambrecht received from the Long-Term Follow-Up Clinic at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Clinic.

Vladimir Spector (Photo: Scott Streble)

Vladimir Spector celebrates two birthdays: the date he was born 21 years ago, and the date—March 24, 2005—he received a stem cell transplant at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview.

Christopher Moertel, M.D., and John Ohlfest, Ph.D., are investigating a new therapy designed to destroy brain tumor cells. (Photo courtesy of Children's Cancer Research Fund)

Malignant brain tumors remain one of the most deadly forms of cancer. They're also the leading cause of cancer deaths in children. That's why Masonic Cancer Center scientists John Ohlfest, Ph.D., and Christopher Moertel, M.D., have devoted their careers to combating them.

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Children's Cancer Research Fund (CCRF) has teamed up with the Minnesota Medical Foundation (MMF) to help fund research to find a cure for pediatric cancers and other childhood diseases faster.

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Anyone can get cancer, but it disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities. The newly established Minnesota Community Networks Center for Eliminating Cancer Disparities aims to reduce the cancer burden in underserved communities—especially Minnesota's growing immigrant and refugee populations. Masonic Cancer Center researcher Kolawole Okuyemi, M.D., M.P.H., will lead the new center, which is funded by a five-year, $4.1 million grant from the National Cancer Institute.

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Two of the Masonic Cancer Center's leading blood and bone marrow cancer researchers—Philip McGlave, M.D., and Jeffrey Miller, M.D.—received five-year program project research grants totaling almost $26 million from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The physician-scientists will use the grants to lead research teams focused on increasing the availability, safety, and effectiveness of hematopoietic stem cell transplants and cell therapy. Their work is improving treatmentand survival of people diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and other blood and bone marrow disorders.

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The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) made headlines across the world last November by showing that a screening program cut lung cancer deaths by 20 percent in a high-risk population. The University of Minnesota provided the largest number of participants—about 6,600—in the national study, which included 54,000 current or former heavy smokers aged 55 to 74.

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Prostate cancer, the most common cancer diagnosed in men after skin cancer, affects about one in six American men. It ranks second only to lung cancer in cancer deaths in men. Yet screening for and treating this disease remain challenging. Current technology limits doctors' ability to precisely determine an individual's prostate cancer risk and life expectancy once diagnosed with the disease.

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Creating breathing lungs in the laboratory. Discovering 32 new genes linked to cancers. Securing major grants to fund new breakthroughs. Read about these and other Masonic Cancer Center accomplishments in the 2009/2010 Research Update. The report covers a range of diverse research that serves a common purpose: to help reduce the impact of cancer on people's lives.

Thumbnail image for Randy Shaver and Roseann Giovanatto-Shaver have been raising money for cancer initiatives through a celebrity golf tournament for more than a decade.

Survivorship Series Converence: Thriving after Cancer

Saturday, April 2

McNamara Alumni Center

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

This annual conference addresses survivors’ questions and long-term health issues. There is no fee, but reservations are required. Call 612-624-2620 or visit www.cancer.umn.edu/survivorshipseries.

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Eight-year-old Reid McCants doesn't really seem to mind being in a hospital bed. He's holding a stack of Pokémon cards in his left hand and clicking the TV remote in his right. When asked to show off the new hole in his smile where a tooth had been until a few days ago, he grins broadly. But this Des Moines, Iowa, second-grader isn't visiting University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital for fun and games. Reid is enrolled in a TrialNet clinical study aimed at advancing type 1 diabetes research and helping kids like him beat the disease.

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Eager to support his wife as well as friends who had diabetes, Pete Rockers began volunteering with the University of Minnesota's Golf Classic "fore" Diabetes Research when it started in 1997. Since then, Rockers' involvement in the University's diabetes research has only intensified. His wife, Sue, has type 1 diabetes and received treatment at the University decades ago, before the family moved to the east and west coasts and later returned to Minnesota. Rockers says that watching his wife live with diabetes prompted him to get more involved in supporting research for a cure. "You have to be a strong person to deal with [diabetes]," he says. "It never takes a break."

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Pioneering research by University of Minnesota diabetes and stem cell expert Meri Firpo, Ph.D., is giving hope to millions of people with diabetes by bringing scientists closer to finding a cure. An assistant professor in the University's Stem Cell Institute and Schulze Diabetes Institute, Firpo is one of the first scientists in the world to produce a special kind of stem cell from a reprogrammed skin cell.

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Mark your calendar for the 15th annual Golf Classic "fore" Diabetes Research on June 20, 2011, at Town & Country Club in St. Paul. The event benefits research under way at the University of Minnesota's Schulze Diabetes Institute to advance a cure for type 1 diabetes.

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The TrialNet study of the anti-inflammatory drug Canakinumab began last fall. Ultimately, the study will include 66 newly diagnosed diabetes patients aged 6 to 45. For this study's protocol; overseen by an Institutional Review Board; newly diagnosed patients receive monthly subcutaneous injections the first year, quarterly checkups the second year, and twice-yearly visits the final two years.

Jay Cohn, M.D.

If people took medications known to reduce their risk of a heart attack, nearly 90 percent of first-time heart attacks could be prevented, according to a University of Minnesota study. The study builds a strong case for increased screening efforts designed to detect heart disease before it becomes symptomatic, especially for people with a history of heart disease in their family.

Red Hot Soiree will be held April 30 at the Depot in Minneapolis.

Celebrate a history of innovation and future discoveries at the first-ever Red Hot Soirée, a benefit for the Lillehei Heart Institute. Cardiovascular disease touches each of us. As the number one killer in the United States across all gender, ages, and races, heart disease affects 1 out of every 3 people. However, in the fight against this disease we are faced with many challenges. Even though 2,400 Americans die of cardiovascular disease every day, funding for vital research and patient services is not keeping up with demand.


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