University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota Foundation
Giving to medicine and health at the University of Minnesota

June 2012 Archives


Minnesota Vikings Christian Ponder and Kyle Rudolph joined other local celebrities on the golf course for the fourth annual Champions for Children Celebrity Golf Classic on Monday, June 11 at Windsong Farm Golf Club. The tournament, hosted this year by Minnesota Viking John Sullivan, has raised more than $450,000 for University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital and directly supports the Adopt A Room program


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.

A member of the pioneering University of Minnesota team offering promising but risky blood and marrow transplants aimed at curing the disease, he is now focused on finding a safer alternative. Two foundations led by fathers of boys who have EB will contribute a total of $450,000 for this research--if other donors will collectively match it.


Carl N. Platou, M.H.A., was an unwavering optimist. He was also an accomplished health care innovator, a consummate people person, and a decorated veteran who survived World War II against staggering odds. His unique relationship with the University of Minnesota spanned more than 70 years, and the Biomedical Discovery District now coming to fruition on the East Bank campus is tangible proof of his tenacity.

Ashok Saluja, Ph.D. (Photo: Scott Streble)

When it comes to nasty diseases, pancreatic cancer has few rivals.

"It's the worst cancer known," says Ashok Saluja, Ph.D., professor and vice chair of research in the University of Minnesota's Department of Surgery. "More than 44,000 Americans will be diagnosed with it this year, and almost as many will die. It's hard to catch early, and there's no good treatment."

But Saluja, a member of the University's Masonic Cancer Center and one of the world's foremost researchers of pancreatic diseases, has found the first real ray of hope for treating this formidable cancer.

C. Gail Summers, M.D., is leading the first-ever drug trial aimed at improving vision for children who have albinism. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

There are top-notch researchers, and there are first-rate clinicians. But few doctors have both the scientific chops and the extraordinary bedside manner of pediatric ophthalmologist C. Gail Summers, M.D., says donor Michael Cohen.

Cohen's in a position to know; he's a physician himself. The Texas pathologist and his wife, Sandra Cohen, have made two $10,000 gifts to advance Summers's work. Inspired by the superlative care she's given their 15-year-old son, Matthew, the gifts are helping to support her current clinical trial, a study exploring a possible treatment for vision problems associated with albinism.

Elizabeth Seaquist, M.D., says endowed chairs foster the pursuit of novel ideas. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

Elizabeth Seaquist, M.D., fell in love with the lab almost 40 years ago. She got her first taste of research working for four summers at the University of Minnesota on a paid fellowship from the American Heart Association.

Those paid fellowships are so rare now, Seaquist says, which is why she feels privileged to return the favor to students today using philanthropic funding from the Pennock Family Land Grant Chair in Diabetes Research, which she has held since 2002.

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University of Minnesota senior Nikolas Job wrapped up his academic year as a communications major and is beginning his third straight summer internship at a company he hopes to work for one day.

Hill-Rom, a medical technology firm, makes the chest-compression vest Job has used since childhood to manage his cystic fibrosis (CF). Not only has the company offered Job the chance to work in marketing, but it often sends him to speak to groups of physicians, nurses, and others about its products and his personal experience.


Although Bob Johnson calls himself a “Swede from the East Side of St. Paul,” with a little prodding, you’ll learn that he carries many other titles as well: lawyer, former Minnesota state legislator, war veteran, proud father of six, cancer survivor.

In the late 1990s, Johnson was diagnosed with prostate cancer and sought treatment at the University.


You can have the most up-to-date will or living trust, but if your beneficiary designations on life insurance and retirement plans are not current, much of your planning could be undone.


Try out our new online gift illustrator to see the available giving opportunities and benefits.


It’s 5:45 a.m. and attorney David Murphy, 40, is lacing his shoes before heading out of his St. Paul home for a run. This routine is part of a training regimen for Murphy’s numerous 2012 races, which will culminate in his first 26.2-miler—the Twin Cities Marathon—in October.

Murphy is running to bring attention to the work under way at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Lung Science and Health and to honor his late mother, Judy Murphy, who had battled idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) before receiving a lung transplant in 2001. IPF is an incurable lung disease that causes lung scarring; slowly reducing lung function to zero.

Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament leaders presented a $350,000 check for research to representatives of the Masonic Cancer Center and University of Minnesota at an April 24 ceremony at Target Field.

The Masonic Cancer Center invests in novel ideas using a "high-risk, high-gain" approach, says longtime leukemia researcher Tucker LeBien, Ph.D. It's often the most innovative projects that spur new ways of targeting cancer cells or delivering therapies. But because many granting agencies want to invest in a sure thing, securing funding for these "risky" projects can be quite difficult, LeBien says.

Enter the Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament, formerly known as the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament.

Karen Miller, M.S.W., M.P.A., and Alan Hirsch, M.D., kicked off a statewide effort to prevent heart attacks and strokes in Hibbing earlier this year. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

Experts at the University of Minnesota's Lillehei Heart Institute and the School of Public Health have developed a program to spread the word about steps Minnesotans can take to prevent a first heart attack or stroke. To start, the program will highlight the benefits of taking low-dose aspirin daily. Called "Partners in Prevention," the pilot program rolled out in Hibbing earlier this year. "Why should any Minnesotan, or American, suffer a preventable heart attack or stroke?" asks Alan T. Hirsch, M.D., director of this new initiative and the University's vascular medicine program. "This campaign is all about prevention."

The surgeons who performed Jay Pearson's open-heart surgery in 1952 went on to establish the University as a world leader in the field. (Photo: Jim Bovin)

In 1952, Eisenhower became president, Hasbro introduced Mr. Potato Head, gas cost 20 cents a gallon, and, at the University of Minnesota, doctors performed the world's first successful open-heart surgery. Jay Pearson was just 4 years old when he was admitted to the University's Variety Club Children's Heart Hospital on March 28, 1952, for an early heart surgery that preceded the history-making procedure by mere months.

Robin Maturi and her baby, Avery, greet Kenneth Liao, M.D., Ph.D., the heart surgeon who helped to save both of their lives, at the Red Hot Soirée. (Photo: Sandhill Photography)

Music superstar Barry Manilow thrilled the nearly 800 guests of this year's Red Hot Soirée, a gala benefit for the Lillehei Heart Institute at the University of Minnesota. The event, held April 14 at the Depot in Minneapolis, raised almost $690,000 for heart health research and education at the University.

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