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April 2011 Archives

This diffusion spectrum image shows brain wiring in a healthy adult. the Thread-like structures are nerve bundles, each containing hundreds of thousands of nerve fibers. (Image courtesy of Van J. Weeden, M.D., MGH/Harvard University.)

Rumors were flying that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was thinking big. Science's next great frontier would aim to unlock mysteries of the brain, and the NIH was ready to put up big money to make it happen. Kamil Ugurbil, Ph.D., knew that the University of Minnesota's Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) had to be a part of that study.

Brain images showing active PTSD (top), and PTSD in remission. (Images courtesy of Apostolos Georgopoulos, M.D., Ph.D.)

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Minneapolis VA Health Care System have discovered a correlation between increased circuit activity in the right side of the brain and the debilitating flashbacks triggered by posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The ability to objectively diagnose PTSD through concrete evidence of neural activity is the first step toward effectively helping those afflicted with this severe anxiety disorder.

Emcee Dick Bremer shares the stage with Minnesota Twins left-fielder Delmon Young, who won the Charles O. Johnson Award for Most Improved Twin. (Photo: STephanie Dunn)

About 560 attendees at the 2011 Diamond Awards at Target Field celebrated the Minnesota Twins' outstanding season while also supporting lifesaving research and care at the University of Minnesota.

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In the past two decades, the Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center (BAARC) has raised nearly $8 million to advance research into ataxia and other neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases at the University of Minnesota. That's a cause for celebration.

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The Federal Estate Tax, Gift Tax, and Generation Skipping Transfer Tax began a new chapter in 2011. Effective through 2012, new tax laws apply.

Aviva Abosch, M.D., Ph.D. (Photo: Bill Alkofer)

For a decade and a half, the tools used to identify brain structures critical for deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery have included magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with a 1.5 Tesla magnet (that's the strength of magnet in most hospital MR machines today) and a standardized anatomical atlas that shows where brain structures should be. University of Minnesota neurosurgeon Aviva Abosch, M.D., Ph.D., wondered whether other, higher-tech imaging techniques might improve those visuals and thereby the placement of DBS electrodes.

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Friends of the Minnesota Medical Foundation can enjoy a 15 percent discount on tickets to the Broadway rock musical "Next to Normal," playing at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul in May 2011.

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Life had taken an unexpected turn for Lewis Derry. At age 22, the Twin Cities potter became ill with depression and anxiety, and over the next four years he developed an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) so severe that everyday tasks—from locking doors to following the thread of a conversation—became nearly impossible. The illness and the suicidal thoughts that accompanied it left Derry housebound, unable to be near sharp tools, afraid of crowds, and socially isolated from friends. Then he learned that deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery might help him.

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Dr. Joseph Neglia's job just got easier. As the Department of Pediatrics head works to recruit topflight experts in children's health, he can point to the extraordinary new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital as a very visible symbol of the University's dedication to children. "Having the Amplatz Children's Hospital will go a long way to attracting the most talented faculty members and residents," says Neglia, who also is the hospital's physician-in-chief.

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On shelves behind a locked door in the basement of the University of Minnesota's Diehl Hall sit more than 600 ordinary-looking containers carefully coded with identifying numbers that catalog their extraordinary contents: the autopsied brains of the School Sisters of Notre Dame who have died and left their primary organ to an ambitious investigation known as the Nun Study. Using medical observation of the sisters (all age 75 and older) and incorporating scrutiny of their use of language in their written diaries with autopsies of their brains after death, the project broke new ground in the study of aging and the risk factors for Alzheimer's disease.

The scene might look something like this: A small group of immigrant men has gathered in Minneapolis to smoke tobacco, talk, and chew a sour-tasting, leafy green plant. The plant, known as khat (pronounced cot), gives users a sense of euphoria and is illegal in the United States. Commonly used and legal in East African and Middle Eastern countries and an emerging problem in some immigrant communities in the United States khat has been linked to a variety of health problems and can lead to serious financial hardship for users who spend excessive amounts of money on the substance.

Second-year medical student Rob Fraser spends his Wednesday mornings shadowing doctrs at clinics throughout the Twin Cities as part of a 12-week preceptorship program. Recently he shadowed pediatric hospitalist Dave Hanson, M.D. Connecting medical student

On Wednesday mornings, second-year medical student Robert Fraser drives right past the University of Minnesota campus on his way to Creekside Clinic in St. Louis Park. There, he sees patients, interacts with residents and attending physicians, and puts his physical exam skills to the test. Fraser's experience, part of a 12-week rotation that brings him to the clinic once a week, reflects a major change in the Medical School's curriculum that was implemented last fall.

The Freeman family, Robyn, Margo, Don, and Myles (Photo: Ellen Johnson, Photogen, Inc.)

Ten-month-old Margo Freeman couldn't have looked any healthier. Yet, when Don and Robyn Freeman learned that their adoptive baby girl was waiting for them in Ethiopia, they sought an expert evaluation of her medical records and advice on what to expect when adopting a baby from a foreign country.

An interest in cultural barriers to health care drew Rhodes Scholar Priya Sury to the University of Minnesota for medical school. (Photo courtesy of Priya Sury)

First-year University of Minnesota medical student Priya Sury's volunteer experiences have taken her from public school classrooms in St. Louis, Missouri, to a government-run maternity clinic in the Dominican Republic. As disparate as those experiences were, Sury says they both challenged her to examine the role culture plays in patients' access to and experience with medical care.

Image courtesy of Kent State University Press

Stuck in Phoenix following a professional conference in August 2005, Shailendra Prasad, M.D., M.P.H., watched the news in horror as Hurricane Katrina rolled into his Mississippi hometown. "Our flights home were canceled. Then we learned that our neighborhood was under mandatory evacuation," he recalls. "Our county, Pearl River, and our city, Picayune, were orange on the weather map. The Internet news pages said nothing more. I could not eat. I phoned my dozen sickest patients." None answered.

Rafael Andrade, M.D.

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword for Rafael Andrade, M.D. A resident alumnus of the Class of 2000 and an assistant professor in the Medical School's Department of Surgery, Andrade is leading a waste-reduction initiative in the operating rooms at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview's East and West Bank campuses.

Image courtesy of Bascom Hill Publishing.

Over the last 40 years, medicine has experienced a radical change in the role of primary care physicians. Once captain of the health care ship, they're now more like a funnel through which patients pass into the greater health care system. In his book, Elephants in the Exam Room: The Big Picture Solution to Today's Health Care, Medical School alumnus Wayne Liebhard, M.D. (Class of 1983), laments these changes and gives us a very personal look at how they affected the vocational life of a suburban Minnesota primary care physician.

Aaron Friedman, M.D.

When Aaron Friedman, M.D., took the reins of health sciences at the University of Minnesota in January, he knew his job wouldn't be easy. In addition to getting a new president in July, the University is facing deep cuts in support from the state this year--as deep as 15 to 20 percent --on top of the $111.5 million in state reductions that have already been made in the last two years.

More space for kids who have cancer allows University pediatric oncologists like Brenda Weigel, M.D., to expand the number and types of therapies they can offer. (Photo: Brady Willette)

With crucial philanthropic support from individuals and organizations such as Children's Cancer Research Fund, research discoveries made at the University of Minnesota have helped increase survival rates for childhood cancer from 10 percent in 1959 to nearly 80 percent today. But Department of Pediatrics faculty and leaders realized that if the University wanted to continue as a leader in the fight against pediatric cancers, it needed better facilities.

Brain images showing active PTSD (top), and PTSD in remission. (Images courtesy of Apostolos Georgopoulos, M.D., Ph.D.)

Researchers at the Medical School and Minneapolis VA Health Care System have discovered a correlation between increased circuit activity in the right side of the brain and the debilitating flashbacks triggered by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The ability to objectively diagnose PTSD through concrete evidence of neural activity is the first step toward effectively helping those afflicted with this severe anxiety disorder.

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing <em>Salmonella typhimurium</em> (pink) invading cultured human cells. (Image: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH)

It's almost unfathomable that salmonella, the bacteria transmitted through food that sickens thousands of Americans each year, could actually help people feel better. But researchers with the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, believe that salmonella may be a valuable tool in the fight against cancer in organs surrounding the gut--such as the liver, spleen, and colon--since that's where salmonella naturally infects the body.

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The University of Minnesota Medical School celebrated its own version of "March Madness" last month in a national annual rite of passage known as Match Day. During the celebration, which takes place simultaneously at medical schools across the country, graduating students learn the site of their medical residencies.

The newly expanded Center for Magnetic Resonance Research will house one of the world's largest and most powerful human imaging magnets. (Photo: Shawn Sullivan)

The University of Minnesota’s world-renowned Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) in December opened a 65,000-square-foot expansion. The expanded space will house one of the world’s largest and most powerful human imaging magnets—a 10.5 Tesla magnet capable of delivering the sharpest images ever seen through magnetic resonance imaging technology—and the new Center for Clinical Imaging Research.

Thumbnail image for Class of 2000 alumni Julie Anderson, M.D., Peter Lund, M.D., Shannon Parkos, M.D., and Eric Haug, M.D., share a smile. (Photo: Tim Rummelhoff)

Save the date for this fall's Medical School Alumni Weekend, September 22-24, and a chance to reconnect and reminisce with friends and former classmates while enjoying social activities, a medical education forum, tours, an all-class luncheon, and more. All alumni are welcome to attend the weekend's events.

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Medical residents are not students when it comes to paying FICA taxes, and their stipends will continue to be taxed, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in January.

Aaron Friedman, M.D.

The University's Medical School secured more than $141 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding in 2010, according to new rankings released by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, a firm that compiles NIH rankings each year.

University imaging and neuroscience expert Noam Harel, Ph.D., pushes the limits of magnetic resonance technology. (Photo: Scott Streble)

An international team of scientists led by the University of Minnesota and Advanced MRI Technologies of California has discovered a way to produce magnetic resonance images of the brain at speeds dramatically faster than previously possible.

The newly expanded Center for Magnetic Resonance Research will house one of the world's largest and most powerful human imaging magnets. (Photo: Shawn Sullivan)

The University of Minnesota's world-renowned Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) in December opened a 65,000- square-foot expansion. The expanded space will house one of the world's largest and most powerful human imaging magnets, a 10.5 Tesla magnet capable of delivering the sharpest images ever seen through magnetic resonance imaging technology. It also houses the new Center for Clinical Imaging Research.

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"It's like Christmas," said one student as she and her fellow first-year classmates opened the boxes containing their new iPads®. The gifts were the result of a five-year, $2.3 million Health Resources and Services Administration grant awarded to Jim Boulger, Ph.D., head of the Medical School, Duluth campus Department of Behavioral Sciences, and Ruth Westra, D.O., chair of the Duluth campus Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

Retired neurosurgeon Thomas Kenefick, M.D., has found that both medicine and winemaking require a solid base of chemistry knowledge. (Photo courtesy of Kenefick Ranch Winery)

University of Minnesota alumnus Thomas Kenefick, M.D. (Class of 1960), followed an unconventional retirement path when he started Kenefick Ranch Winery in Napa Valley in 2000. "There aren't a lot of neurosurgeon-winemakers," he acknowledges.

Patricia Wolff, M.D., examines a child in Justinian Hospital's malnutrition clinic in Cap-Haitien. (Photo courtesy of Meds & Food for Kids)

While short-term relief has its place, Patricia Wolff, M.D., is partial to the permanent fix. Wolff, a pediatrician, 1972 Medical School alumna, and founder of the nonprofit Meds & Food for Kids, is focused on combating malnutrition in Haiti — starting with its root causes. “‘Rescue’ is simpler, and it looks really good in the media,” the Minnesota native muses. “But you need to employ people, educate and mentor people, as well as preserve brain capacity by fighting malnutrition.”

As codirectors of the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital, Ronald Furnival, M.D., and Mark Roback, M.D., share a big job. They are building an emergency department that promises to become one of the best in the country. Their role is especially important because a significant number of patients will come to the new children's hospital via its pediatric-only emergency department.

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We remember Medical School alumni who have recently passed away and honor their contributions to improving health and advancing medicine.

Locally grown peanuts are used to make Medika Mamba, a high-calorie, protein-dense treatment for malnutrition. (Photo courtesy of Meds & Food for Kids)

North-central Minnesota surgeon Paul Severson was enjoying a full life and a successful career, but he was looking for the chance to make a bigger impact. The 1978 Medical School, Duluth campus graduate had joined the medical community serving Crosby/Aitkin in 1984. He had championed the advancement of new surgical and medical services there and, later, with Howard McCollister, M.D., cofounded and codirected the Minnesota Institute for Minimally Invasive Surgery.

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The University of Minnesota Board of Regents has named alumnus Eric Kaler, Ph.D., as the University's 16th president. He will succeed Robert Bruininks, Ph.D., who plans to return to the faculty.

The Medical School–Duluth Campus specializes in educating students committed to practicing primary care and serving the health-care needs of rural communities. (Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Vesely)

Exposing medical students to rural clinical experiences early in their training has been a mainstay of the Medical School's Duluth campus since it opened in 1972. Now the campus is expanding those experiences by introducing a new Rural Family Medicine, Native American, and Minority Medical Scholars Program (RMSP). The goal remains the same: training more new doctors who are committed to rural practice.

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Coming soon to a neighborhood near you: a state-of-the-art children's hospital in a vibrant package.

It’s hard to miss the new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital along Riverside Avenue in Minneapolis. With its special anodized steel exterior, the building changes color throughout the day depending on how the light hits it. This material has been used on only one other building nationwide.

Beyond its physical brilliance, University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital will become a beacon of hope for children and their families when it opens its doors to patients on April 30.

Chandy John, M.D., M.S., shows a medical officer in Uganda how to look for changes in the retina caused by malaria.

There are places in the world where nearly seven in 100 newborns do not live more than a month, where a vast majority of births take place without skilled birth attendants, and where one in five children never lives to see his or her fifth birthday. These stark realities fuel the drive of physician-scientists in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

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Ten-month-old Margo Freeman couldn't have looked any healthier. Yet, when Don and Robyn Freeman learned that their adoptive baby girl was waiting for them in Ethiopia, they sought an expert evaluation of her medical records and advice on what to expect when adopting a baby from a foreign country.

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Nearly 30 teams participated in Dave Lee's Gutter Bowl 5, presented by WCCO Radio, raising $94,000. Proceeds from the event, which took place February 18 at Brunswick Zone XL in Brooklyn Park, helped to fund the WCCO Adopt A Room at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital.

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Any child diagnosed with cancer faces the battle of her life. But what if her family lives in an unstable country and cannot see a doctor? That's what happened to Rosie Jones.

Ben, Vivian, and Bob Calmenson in 2008 (Photo: Tim Rummelhoff)

Bob Calmenson lived decades longer than doctors predicted. But when he died at 60 in 2009, his life seemed far too short to family and friends. "He left us too soon," say his sisters, Margie Howell and Janet Lesgold. Yet the spirit of Bob, and his father, Ben, who died at age 90 just 13 days before Bob died, will live forever in Ben & Bob’s Room, one of the patient rooms designed to feel more like home under the Adopt A Room program at the new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

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More than 6,000 children in Minnesota live with the pain of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. But the state has only six pediatric rheumatologists to provide specialty care for these young patients.

Joseph P. Neglia, M.D., M.P.H.

Joseph P. Neglia, M.D., M.P.H., a familiar face in the Department of Pediatrics, took the reins as department chair and physician-in-chief at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital in January. Part of the University community since 1984, Neglia knows well the opportunities—and challenges—that lie ahead.


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