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Medical Bulletin

Discover what’s possible. Browse these features to find out more about the impact of University of Minnesota research, education, and care—and how you can help.

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Russell Johnson, '13 M.D., took a year away from his formal medical education to be part of a clinical research team at the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh, situated in the heart of Bangladesh's capital city, Dhaka -- one of the world's most densely populated and rapidly growing cities.

Though he stays in bounds now, Thomas Crowley, M.D., still enjoys mountain skiing. (Photo: Sharp Shoooter Imaging)

Thomas J. Crowley, '62 M.D., discovered the joys of mountain skiing through the University of Minnesota Ski Club. The Minneapolis native's first trip west took him to Aspen for some traditional downhill skiing. But over time he discovered his true passion was for the backcountry. He did worry, however, about the very real and ever-present danger of avalanches. After a fair bit of tinkering, Crowley invented and patented the AvaLung.

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Like all Medical School students, Rachel Lundberg '15 has plenty of good stories to tell. But she tells one story that sets her apart--the one from her first year of medical school when, over the course of a few months, she went from being a student to a patient.

John S. Najarian, M.D., and David E. R. Sutherland, M.D., Ph.D., are the only two recipients of the from deceased donors. Medawar Prize (the highest honor bestowed by the international Transplantation Society) from the same department: Najarian became a M

The debilitating, often deadly disease of type 1 diabetes mellitus still has not been conquered. But 40 years ago, because seven forward-looking patients volunteered to be injected with tiny clusters of cells from donated pancreases, University of Minnesota scientists took a huge step toward taming diabetes.

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The University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Physicians (UMP), and Fairview Health Services in February launched a new brand, University of Minnesota Health, representing the closer integration of the three organizations and their shared commitment to delivering the best possible care to patients.

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In December the University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved final agreements among the University, University of Minnesota Physicians (UMP), and Fairview Health Services (now operating together as University of Minnesota Health) for a new academic outpatient clinic.

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Rulon F. Stacey, Ph.D., F.A.C.H.E., an experienced leader of both academic and community health systems, on November 4 became Fairview Health Services' president and chief executive officer.

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Before turning the job over to Brooks Jackson, M.D., M.B.A., Aaron Friedman, M.D., reflected on his tenure as dean of the Medical School in a note to the faculty.

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A team of University of Minnesota cardiothoracic transplant experts in November performed the Midwest's first "breathing lung" transplant, an innovative surgical approach that uses technology capable of keeping donated lungs warm and breathing during transportation -- which also keeps them healthier before transplantation.

Islets are clusters of cells within the pancreas containing the insulin-producing beta cells that are critically important in diabetes. This close-up image of an islet shows beta cells in green.

The University of Minnesota and Harvard University will partner on a multicenter clinical study evaluating a potential treatment for kidney disease in people who have type 1 diabetes. The study will be funded by a $24.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

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After a monthlong journey by boat from England, across the Atlantic, and through the Great Lakes, the world's largest imaging magnet made its way from Duluth, Minnesota, to its new home at the University of Minnesota's Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, arriving on December 6.

Gary Davis, Ph.D.

After seven years as regional campus dean for the Medical School's Duluth campus, Gary Davis, Ph.D., will be stepping down from his leadership role.

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To spur creative ideas for improving medical education, the Medical School came up with an unconventional approach: an Innovations contest that invited students, staff, and faculty members to submit their out-of-the-box ideas in an interactive, online forum.

Classmates Virginia Dale, M.D., Peggy Naas, M.D., and Lisa Erickson, M.D., reconnect at their 30-year Medical School reunion. (Photo: Stephanie Dunn)

The Class of 1963 exceeded its attendance goal at its 50th reunion celebration last fall. Now it's focused on a loftier goal: raising $2 million from classmates for medical student scholarships.

Bettina Dordoni-Willson joins her husband, Richard Willson, M.D., and his 1962 classmate Bruce Bayley, M.D., as they celebrate their 50-year reunion at the McNamara Alumni Center. (Photo: Tim Rummelhoff)

All Medical School alumni, including the reunion classes of 1949, 1954, 1959, 1964, 1974, 1984, 1989, 1994, and 2004, are invited back to campus to reunite with friends, engage with students, and see what's new at the Medical School.

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Martin Dworkin, Ph.D., St. Paul, Minn., died February 6 at age 78. Dr. Dworkin was a beloved professor who taught microbiology at the University of Minnesota Medical School for more than four decades.

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Author Brian Lucas, who is senior director of communications for the U's Academic Health Center, recounts his family's story through a new book, Here Comes the Sun. He says he wanted to offer a clear and honest look at what happens when an illness throws life off track and show how a combination of science, love, and serendipity can put things right.

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After collectively logging more than 2 million hours of training, the 225 students in the University of Minnesota Medical School's Class of 2014 learned where they'd be completing their residencies on Match Day, held March 21 at the McNamara Alumni Center.

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Medical themes are threaded throughout PBS's wildly popular "Downton Abbey," from Matthew's temporary paralysis during the Great War to Sybil's tragic death from eclampsia. The Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine illuminates medicine of Edwardian England through its current exhibit, which is free and open to the public.

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

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In a state with a thriving biosciences industry and rich history of innovation, it only made sense for the 2008 Minnesota Legislature to invest in a state-of-the-art research park at the University of Minnesota. The Biomedical Discovery District's six buildings -- the last one will open in 2015 -- will provide 700,000 square feet of space for more than 1,000 investigators and personnel to collaborate on research leading to lifesaving discoveries in cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, brain sciences, vision, hearing, immunology, and infectious diseases.

Sesame Street characters Rosita, Alex, and Abby build toy cars and talk about their families as part of Sesame Street's 'Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration' initiative. (Photo: Gil Vaknin/Copyright 2013 Sesame Workshop)

It's a festering problem affecting America's kids that's bigger than autism, bigger even than juvenile diabetes, but too often unnoticed, or unacknowledged, by teachers, doctors, foster parents, and child-care providers. Affecting more than 3 million children -- and that number is on the rise -- it's often a shameful secret. The problem? Growing up with a parent in prison or jail.

Essa Yacoub, Ph.D., helps to optimize the technologies supporting the University's high-field magnetic resonance scanners, including the under-construction 10.5T magnet--the most powerful scanner for humans in the world. (Photo: Scott Streble)

Imagine a road map connecting every one of Earth's 7.1 billion people -- and showing how each of those people is connected to the 300 or so people he or she knows. Now imagine 11 more identical maps, crumple them all up, stuff them into a cantaloupe, and try to read them. Now you'll begin to have an idea of the complexity of the "human connectome," as researchers refer to a comprehensive map of neural connections in the brain.

Robin Michaels, Ph.D. (Photo: Jefferey)

This year the Medical School welcomed two new associate deans of admissions to its Twin Cities and Duluth campuses. Dimple Patel, M.S., moved from Denver, Colo., to Minneapolis in mid-May to assume the role of associate dean of admissions for the Twin Cities campus. In August, a former colleague at the University of Colorado Medical School, Robin Michaels, Ph.D., began as associate dean of student affairs and admissions for the Medical School's Duluth campus. Here's what they had to say about recruiting and selecting the right mix of students at their respective campuses.

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The University of Minnesota's transplant program is one of the oldest and most successful in the world, with 50 years of experience in transplant research, innovation, and care -- including performing Minnesota's first kidney transplant, in 1963, and the world's first pancreas-kidney transplant, in 1966. To date, it has performed more than 13,000 transplants.

Medical School alumnus Ross Perko, M.D., examines an orphan in Uganda. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Perko)

Traveling beyond the city limits of Kampala, Uganda, can feel like stepping into a time warp. Cars inch along the dusty, potholed streets. Mud huts line village roads. And even the best technology would be considered long outdated in the United States. But for fourth-year University of Minnesota medical student Margaret Perko, it's an ideal place to help her become a great doctor.

All but four of the 550 people working at Jacobson's two hospitals are Tanzanian. (Photo courtesy of Mark Jacobson, M.D., M.P.H.)

Sometimes it's hard to see progress. This from a man who has spent the last three decades improving health for the people of Tanzania by leading widespread community health campaigns, building two hospitals, and creating higher-quality training programs for health workers. But Mark Jacobson, M.D., M.P.H., University of Minnesota Medical School Class of 1978, is surrounded by need every day, and he knows that improving health is not just about getting medical treatment.

Medical student Adam Stein is back at home in the Twins Cities after a career as a professional ballet dancer in Pittsburgh; Charlotte, N.C.; and Amsterdam. (Photo: Scott Streble)

The biggest, most graceful jumps in ballet are known as grand jetés -- essentially a midair split -- and young dancers spend years learning how to execute them flawlessly. But for Adam Stein '16, the most challenging leap of his life wasn't encountered on stage. It was the vault he made from a promising career as a professional dancer to a rigorous education at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

David Priest, M.D.

Travel is transformative. Neuroradiologist and chronic wayfarer David Priest, M.D. (Class of '95), knows that well. But when he planned his January 2012 trip up India's River Ganges, he never imagined it would lead to thousands of discarded plastic bags becoming brightly hued iPad covers, one-of-a-kind woven tote bags, and multicolored handmade baskets.

Research at the University resulted in 14 new startup companies during the last fiscal year, one being EmboMedics, which produces resorbable polymer beads designed to cut off the blood supply to cancer cells. (Image courtesy of EmboMedics)

The University of Minnesota launched a record 14 startup companies -- many with a medical focus -- in fiscal year 2013. In fiscal year 2012, it launched 12 startups, breaking the previous year's record of nine.

Badrinath Konety, M.D., M.B.A.

With a $13.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, the University of Minnesota and University of Alabama, Birmingham are collaborating to better address health disparities in conditions affecting African American men.

Thumbnail image for After completing a portion of her research through a Cancer Biology Training Grant at the University, scientist Mariangellys Rodriguez landed a sought-after fellowship through the National Institutes of Health. (Photo: Richard Anderson

Researchers from the University of Minnesota's Program in HIV Medicine have been awarded a $5.7 million grant by the National Institutes of Health to test a new way to combat the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

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Researchers at the University of Minnesota have discovered that a naturally occurring human antiviral enzyme causes DNA mutations that lead to several forms of cancer.

Sayeed Ikramuddin, M.D. (Photo: Scott Streble)

Which is better at controlling type 2 diabetes: gastric bypass surgery or lifestyle management? That was the question University of Minnesota researchers Sayeed Ikramuddin, M.D., and David Bernlohr, Ph.D., aimed to answer when they began a study in 2011.

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A new University of Minnesota study shows that music may reduce anxiety for patients in the ICU who need mechanical assistance to breathe, and that it also may reduce the amount of medication they need during recovery.

David Rothenberger, M.D.

David Rothenberger, M.D., an internationally recognized leader in American surgery, became head of the Medical School's Department of Surgery October 1. He has been deputy chairman of the department since 2006.

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Does taconite dust lead to mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung's lining? This was the main question that the state Legislature charged University of Minnesota researchers with answering nearly five years ago through the $4.9 million Minnesota Taconite Workers Health Study. So far, the U team has found that for every year worked in the mines, a person's risk for mesothelioma increased about 3 percent. But there's more work to do, says lead researcher Jeffrey Mandel, M.D., M.P.H., of the School of Public Health.

Students who are interested in pediatrics will experience a seamless transition from medical school to residency through the EPAC program. (Photo: Scott Streble, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota)

Deborah Powell, M.D., is looking for a particular group of medical students: those who are unafraid to try new things, those who ask good questions, and, above all, those who are genuinely interested in pediatrics. These students are the ones Powell, Medical School dean emeritus, hopes to recruit to participate in education in Pediatrics Across the Continuum (EPAC), a new project she designed for the University of Minnesota and three other medical schools.

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During the 2013 Legislative session, Gov. Mark Dayton and policymakers supported University of Minnesota initiatives aimed at advancing research, boosting the state's economy, and ensuring health care access. The Legislature made a two-year, $35.6 million investment in MnDRIVE, Minnesota Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy, to fund research initiatives in four key industries: food production, robotics, water quality, and neuromodulation -- a growing research field focused on treatments for brain disorders.

Classmates Virginia Dale, M.D., Peggy Naas, M.D., and Lisa Erickson, M.D., reconnect at their 30-year Medical School reunion. (Photo: Stephanie Dunn)

Hundreds of Medical School alumni and friends returned to campus this fall for Alumni Celebration, September 19 - 21.

Richard A. Kaplan, M.D.

Theodore R. “Ted” Thompson, M.D., New Brighton, Minn., a University of Minnesota Medical School faculty member for more than 40 years, died July 28 at age 70. A valued adviser to medical students, Dr. Thompson, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics, served as director of the department’s Division of Neonatology for 14 years and held leadership roles across the University. He also was a neonatologist at University of...

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Doctors and their patients don't always speak the same language, but how they communicate can significantly influence medical outcomes.

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

Glen D. Nelson, M.D.

Five University of Minnesota Medical School alumni were honored for their work in the service of the medical profession at the Medical School Alumni Awards Banquet on Thursday, September 19, at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota's East Bank campus.

UCAM Codirector Christopher Reif, M.D., M.P.H., makes a plan for the day with medical students (from left) Anna Donoghue, Ashley Dohlen, and Mariel Lougee at the Community-University Health Care Center. (Photo: Scott Streble)

The Medical School was ahead of the curve when it designed a novel program to expose students to urban family medicine—nearly 20 years ago. Today the popular program has a two-year waiting list. That’s good news for primary care in the city.

Tiffany Cowan

On a chilly Minnesota evening last December, 16-year-old Tiffany Cowan sat uncomplainingly in Room 242 of the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Memorial Building as two graduate students from the University’s Brain Plasticity Laboratory carefully attached a series of wires to her scalp and right arm.

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Brian Park, a third-year medical student at the time, had seen the patient, a morbidly obese woman with CoPd and recurrent pneumonia, for three months. But he didn’t have the context he needed to understand her health struggles — until he saw her home, a very small house where she lived with at least three generations of her family, as well as several friends who tended to come and go.

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At the University of Minnesota’s new AeroCore Center, researchers are thinking big by exploring the potential of particles one-billionth of a meter in size. The center has brought together researchers from the College of Pharmacy, Masonic Cancer Center, College of Science and Engineering, and Medical School to develop a new way to eradicate lung cancer cells: inhalation of nanoparticles.

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Sociologist Melissa Walls, Ph.D., wants to make something clear: She’s not the story behind the $2.8 million National Institutes of Health research grant that she, a Medical School, Duluth colleague, and two other researchers were awarded last fall.

The story, as she sees it, is about adults her team will be working with to examine the ties between stress and type 2 diabetes among Native Americans — the population with the highest diabetes rate in the world.

Dean Harrington (Photo: Tim Rummelhoff)

Twenty years ago, while studying classical guitar at the University of Minnesota, Dean Harrington lost the fine motor control in the “plucking” fingers of his right hand. Soon he also found that he could no longer type efficiently on a computer and that his right forefinger would spontaneously click the mouse at inappropriate times.


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