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April 2012 Archives

Jakob Tolar, M.D.

In his work as a pediatric oncologist, Jakub Tolar, M.D., Ph.D., sees tragedy every day. But little compares with the heartbreak he sees working with children who have epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a fatal disease that can cause the skin to slough off at even the slightest touch. "This is one of the most awful diseases I've ever seen," Tolar says.

(Photos by Kate Holt)

In his laboratory on the University of Minnesota campus, Paul Bohjanen, M.D., Ph.D., has spent more than a decade working to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS. But it wasn’t until he traveled to Uganda, 8,000 miles away from his lab, that he truly came face-to- face with the gut-wrenching realities of that deadly disease.

“I remember, back in 2003, I visited a hospice program for AIDS patients in Kampala with a group of African doctors,” says Bohjanen. “The facilitator asked how many people in our group had a family member who had died of AIDS, and every single African in the group raised their hand. I’ve never forgotten that.”

Though she weighed only 1 pound 6 ounces at birth, Emma Michael looked healthy to NICU Follow-Up Clinic doctors at 3 months adjusted age. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

Rebecca and James Michael were expecting their second child in early November. But baby Emma could only wait until July 11, when she was born at one day over 23 weeks' gestation, weighing a mere 1 pound 6 ounces.

While The Birthplace care team stayed with Becca at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, neonatologists immediately brought Emma to the adjacent University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and James followed.


Good training pays off in lives saved — and more than 90 percent of troops wounded in action do survive. But is combat medic training the best it can be? To find out, the Department of Defense has awarded an $11 million grant to the University of Minnesota Medical School to lead a consortium that will develop metrics to measure training effectiveness, identify gaps in simulation technology, and come up with the best methods for preparing our military’s first responders.

Mohamed Hassan (Photo: Scott Streble)

After witnessing the ravages of war in his native country of Somalia, Mohamed Hassan was determined to pursue a career in medicine. "I was inspired [to act] by seeing the civil war ... and many people dying of simple things that could easily be cured," he says.

Hassan, who moved to Minneapolis at the age of 10 and graduated from South High School, didn’t know how he would reach his goal — until he learned about Minnesota’s Future Doctors, which put the U of M junior on track to begin medical school in 2013.

Daniel Cheriye (Submitted photo)

Future University of Minnesota Medical School student and Ethiopia native Daniel Cheriye aspires to become a neurosurgeon. Read more about why Cheriye decided to pursue medicine and how the Minnesota's Future Doctors program helped him achieve his goals.

Joohee Han (Submitted photo)

University of Minnesota undergraduate student Joohee Han plans to begin medical school in August 2013. Of being involved in Minnesota's Future Doctors, Han says, "The program means everything to my future.” Read more about Han's amazing journey to Minnesota and how she plans to tackle her goals of being a doctor.

(Far right)Rachel Kay. (Submitted photo)

St. Paul native Rachel Kay, who is working toward her Bachelor's degree in human evolutionary biology at Harvard College, hopes to return to the Midwest to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. Read more about Kay's goal of working in a level 1 trauma center and how her experience with the Minnesota's Future Doctors programs is invaluable.

Christopher and Cara Kail (Photo: Jim Bovin)

Cara and Michael Kail left home for Fairview Southdale Hospital for the birth of their fourth child late on the evening of September 24, 2010, Michael had planned to be home the next day to take their other kids to the Children's Theatre.

But a rare and very dangerous complication caused Cara to lose consciousness during labor early the next morning, which resulted in an emergency C-section birth, right in the labor room. At one point, neither Cara nor new baby Christopher was breathing or had a pulse.

Laundry facilities at General Hospital No. 26 in Algeria, 1943. (Photo: University of Minnesota Archives)

Every war requires that doctors and nurses become soldiers. As the prospect of conflict with Germany loomed over the United States in October 1916, the Surgeon General asked American medical schools to establish base hospitals — corps of surgeons and nurses who would train together and serve overseas. The University of Minnesota Medical School, with support from Mayo Clinic, began organizing Base Hospital No. 26 in the spring of 1917.

Daniel Weisdorf, M.D., and Kumar Belani, M.D. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

International scientific collaboration doesn’t happen by accident — especially in India. “Working in India is about relationships and treating people well,” says Kumar Belani, M.D., a professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Anesthesiology and assistant vice president of India affairs in the Academic Health Center.

In the past decade, Belani — a native of Bangalore, India — has become a matchmaker, cultivating relationships between University faculty and scientists working in India.

An accomplished jazz musician, Noah Wride says playing the piano after a long day melts away the stress of medical school. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

When second-year medical student and scholarship winner Noah Wride compares becoming a physician to running a marathon, it’s not an idle metaphor. Wride has tackled two marathons since moving to Minnesota, and he knows a little something about discipline and perseverance.

Having first explored medicine as a high school student in American Fork, Utah, while participating in an outreach program for Native American scholars at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Wride knows he’s in it for the long haul.

The technologies and expertise needed to conduct leading-edge brain imaging research are just part of what has kept endocrinologist Elizabeth Seaquist, M.D., at the University for more than three decades. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

Elizabeth Seaquist, M.D., chose her career path as a young girl while reading the book series about nurse Sue Barton. "I knew when I read them," she says with a laugh, "that I wanted to be the doctor."

So when the Minneapolis Public Schools alumna didn't get top grades at Vassar College and was subsequently rejected by medical schools everywhere—two years in a row—she was mentally and emotionally preparing to move on.

(Photo: Mark Luinenburg)

What could be better than homemade bread in five minutes a day? Homemade pizza!

Jeffrey Hertzberg, M.D., M.S., a resident alumnus in internal medicine and coauthor of the popular bread-baking books Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, teamed up again with pastry chef Zoë François on a third book — Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day.


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will spark widespread health care reform and result in real improvements for patients, ethicist and health policy expert Ezekiel Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D., told his University of Minnesota audience when he delivered the Dienard Memorial Lecture on Law and Medicine at the Humphrey Center in January.


On March 16, 213 graduating University of Minnesota Medical School students each opened a small envelope containing big news: the site of their residencies.


Minnesota hospitals and clinics are feeling the pinch of 2011 state legislation that severely reduces funding to Medical Education and Research Costs (MERC). The cuts jeopardize University of Minnesota Medical School training programs, partner hospitals, and, ultimately, access to health care in Minnesota.


Mark your calendars for this year’s Alumni Celebration, October 4-5, 2012 (new date!). All Medical School alumni are invited to reunite with old friends, celebrate achievements, and learn what’s new at the Medical School. Join us for an alumni awards banquet, a medical education forum, a scholarship luncheon, class reunion receptions and dinners, and more.


Nominate a deserving physician for one of the following Medical School alumni awards.

Nominations must be received by May 15. Awards will be presented during the Alumni Celebration’s Medical School Alumni Awards Banquet on October 4.


Remember the first time you slipped on your white coat? Relive those memories at the Medical School’s White Coat Ceremony, at 1 p.m., Friday, August 10, at the Ted Mann Concert Hall.


Three University of Minnesota Medical School programs rank among the top 10 of their kinds, according to the spring edition of U.S. News & World Report.


The University of Minnesota in December launched an initiative aimed at making it easier for businesses to partner with the institution on research projects.

Under the new Minnesota Innovation Partnerships (MN-IP) program, companies that sponsor research at the University will be able to prepay a fee and receive a worldwide patent on the intellectual property.


A new University of Minnesota Physicians clinic offers women a convenient health care model that focuses on a comprehensive array of treatment options.

The Women’s Health Specialists Clinic in January opened as a “one-stop shop” for women looking for a single location for their health care needs.

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The Decade of Discovery, a major initiative of the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics, has hired David Etzwiler as executive director and awarded three research grants totaling $1.86 million to bring the initiative closer to its goal: finding a cure for diabetes.


University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic researchers received a $1.35 million grant from the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics to combat myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a cancer that disrupts the way bone marrow develops blood cells. Every year more than 10,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with MDS, and one-third of them go on to develop leukemia.


University of Minnesota investigators have opened a Phase I clinical trial designed to test the safety and potency of blood-forming stem cells in umbilical cord blood (UCB) that previously have been multiplied in a new cell-culturing system.

Derrick Keller, an 18-year-old from St. Louis Park, Minn., who has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, was the first patient to enroll in the study.


Somali-born Liban Hired, M.D., attended medical school in Turkey and served a residency there, specializing in infectious diseases. Then, unable to stay in Turkey or safely return to his homeland, he came to America, the land of opportunity.

Turns out America can also be the land of obstacles, especially when it comes to foreign-trained physicians. Hired, like an estimated 200-plus immigrant doctors in Minnesota, was unable to get the experience necessary to land a residency here, let alone a license to practice medicine.

Frances T. Thomas, M.D.

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

University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital

Your annual gifts to support leading-edge research, education, and care at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital make a real difference to children and their families. But did you know you also can leave a legacy gift that will make a difference after your lifetime? When you include a gift to support children’s health at the University in your estate plans, your future gift will provide critical funding to accelerate the development of new treatments and cures for childhood diseases.


Gabby Burington performs in jazz and tap dancing competitions, something her mother didn't imagine possible when Gabby was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as a toddler. But this 6-year-old doesn't let her diagnosis slow her down.

Gabby regularly sees University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital specialists in rheumatology and ophthalmology, whose services are now centrally located on the University's Riverside campus. Anchored by the new hospital facility, the growing children's health campus is changing pediatric care at the University.


Our Children's Health Campaign seeks to raise $175 million by 2015 to fund vital advances in research, education, and care. Learn how you can get involved at


Patients and families at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital joined with local celebrities March 29 to celebrate all of the hospital's real-life superheroes--from kids and families to doctors, nurses, and child-family life staff.


Save the date for WineFest No. 17--A Toast to Children's Health, an event to benefit children's health research, education, and care at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital, on May 11 and 12.


When Jimbo Fisher and his wife, Candi, learned last year that their youngest son, Ethan, has a rare blood disease called Fanconi anemia, they first dealt with the devastating news in private. Then the Florida State University football coach decided to use his visibility in the media to raise awareness of the disease and funding for research at the University of Minnesota.


Two Department of Pediatrics and Masonic Cancer Center researchers have been named the first recipients of endowed chairs established by Children's Cancer Research Fund. John Ohlfest, Ph.D., was named holder of the Hedberg Family Chair in Brain Tumor Research, and Julie Ross, Ph.D., has received the Suzanne Holmes Hodder Chair in Pediatric Cancer Research.


University of Minnesota pediatric neuropsychologist Jeffrey Wozniak, Ph.D., L.P., is studying the possibility that choline, a relative of the B vitamins, may improve learning and IQ in children who have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). This research could have implications far beyond FASD.

dentist kid.jpg

A brand-new children's dental clinic opened this month across the street from University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital as the state's only hospital-based pediatric dental clinic and the most advanced pediatric dental clinic in the Upper Midwest.

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