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.
Betty Jayne Dahlberg of Deephaven, Minn., has seen the devastating effects of brain cancer firsthand. Her late son-in-law, James “Jimmy” Disbrow, lived with glioblastoma for four years before he died in 2002 at age 54. Disbrow suffered a great deal in those four years—despite valiant attempts to arrest his cancer through experimental therapies. He was an award-winning figure skater, a career he pursued until 1982, when he founded the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant company with his brother. Dahlberg says she does not want others to endure a similar ordeal, and she has a special concern for children who suffer from brain cancer.
When Leaetta Hough talks about her late mother, Hazel Hough, she emphasizes the courage and grace with which she endured the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease for more than 35 years. That’s why, when Hough asked her mother what she would like done in her honor after her death, she rejected the idea of having a building named for her in her hometown of Bagley, Minn. Instead, Hazel supported Hough’s proposal to contribute money to Parkinson’s disease research at the University of Minnesota.
Attention-grabbing specters like bubonic plague, Ebola, or the slim possibility of anthrax attacks make for compelling headlines, and the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) keeps tabs on all of these — along with other nightmarish, if distant, threats. Recently, CIDRAP has made headlines for its work on a more familiar, yet potentially devastating, peril: influenza.
Cancer was a topic of immediate concern to Roger and Lynn Headrick in the 1990s when John Kersey, M.D., asked them to help fund a new cancer research center at the University of Minnesota. A former executive with Exxon, Pillsbury, and the Minnesota Vikings, Roger Headrick had recently joined the boards of two California biotech companies that were examining the links between genetics and cancer.
Russ Scheffler enjoyed medical students. For the two-and-a- half years he lived with cancer of the appendix, he befriended, quizzed, and “tormented” several of them, recalls his wife, Kathy. He recognized the teaching value of his illness, and welcomed the presence of aspiring physicians in the room. “He liked all the attention, he liked that interaction,” Kathy Scheffler says. When his University of Minnesota surgeon, Todd Tuttle, M.D., mentioned plans to bring a student on an upcoming medical mission trip to Honduras, Russ offered to pay for the student’s trip. That was news to Kathy, but she loved the idea.
For most students, committing to medical school comes with a hefty price tag, the weight of which can be overwhelming. Enter Avera Marshall. For six years, the regional medical center in southwestern Minnesota has been working to lift that weight in hopes of inspiring future doctors to return to the area.
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.
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.
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., 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.
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.
When the Jimbo Fisher and his wife, Candi, learned earlier this year that their youngest son, 6-year-old Ethan, has a rare blood disease called Fanconi anemia, they dealt with the devastating news in private. Then they decided to use their visibility in the media to raise awareness of the disease as well as money for research at the University of Minnesota.
Suzanne (Sue) Holmes Hodder thrived on helping others. She was always happy to support her friends and even strangers through projects she believed in. And she particularly cherished her volunteer role with Children's Cancer Research Fund, an organization launched by her close friends Diana and Norm Hageboeck after their daughter Katie died of leukemia in 1979 at age 13.
The Dayton and Hegman families understand that living with diabetes is a constant struggle. Edward "Ned" Dayton and his wife, Sherry Ann, have helped their son Michael manage his type 1 diabetes since his childhood. He is now 43. And Jackie Hegman and her husband, Mark, have contended with her type 2 diabetes for more than 20 years. The Daytons and Hegmans also understand that when you're in a tough spot, you need powerful allies.
Mayo D325 is no ordinary classroom. Gone are the podium and rows of tables and chairs — and along with it, the lecture-and-notes model of education that traditionally has transpired there. The classroom reopened for fall semester as the Mercy Learning Lab, a redesigned and re-equipped facility that includes larger tables meant to promote discussion and teamwork.
Of all the things a teenage boy might choose to do with his bar mitzvah money, giving a portion to medical research might seem low on the list. After all, there are Xboxes and iPods and skateboards to buy. But when Matthew, 13, gave his money to a research program led by John Wagner, M.D., at the University of Minnesota, he was sharing a heartfelt thanks.
Nine-year-old Zachary "Zak" Bartz isn't your typical second-grader -- to many, he's an inspiration. Zak has a disorder called neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), which has caused tumors to grow in his brain and for which there is no known cure. Zak has endured multiple surgeries, countless rounds of chemotherapy, and 30 radiation treatments -- all conducted at clinics associated with the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.
Shirley Hagstrum was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) when she was 40 years old. But she had symptoms of the disease, such as weakness and numbness in her legs, for many years before that, says her daughter Susan Hagstrum, Ph.D., who is married to University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks, Ph.D.
Trim in appearance and outgoing by nature, James H. House, M.D. (Class of 1963), a renowned hand surgeon, revered teacher, and enthusiastic ambassador for the University of Minnesota Medical School, describes the 50 years he and his wife, Janelle, have spent together at the University as "a wonderful life."
Patrick G. Hays, M.H.A., has had plenty of career success. Hays founded Sutter Health in Sacramento, California, in 1980. Hays also served from 1995 to 2000 as president and CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and in 2003, he received the American College of Healthcare Executives' Gold Medal Award. Though his own personal determination surely cannot be discounted, Hays is quick to credit his education at the University of Minnesota for those achievements.
Six-year-old Kira Rogers doesn't know much about the Minnesota Lions, but the Lions' 50-year partnership with the University was intended to help children just like her.
A month after Kira was born, her mother, Michele, noticed something wrong with Kira’s right eye. "Her eyelid looked red. The next day it looked puffier. Each day it looked a little puffier," she says.
Your annual gifts to the Minnesota Medical Foundation (MMF) make a real difference for children and adults suffering from diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and other devastating illnesses.
You can continue to provide ongoing support after your lifetime as well by remembering the foundation in your estate plan — for example, by including a bequest in your will or living trust or by naming the foundation as a beneficiary of a retirement plan or life insurance policy. The funds generated each year by your endowed gift will continue to advance world-class medical research, education, and care at the University of Minnesota.
Over 48 years of marriage, Drs. Betty Oseid and Michael E. Carey have shared a stimulating and fulfilling life — one that’s included three children and six grandchildren, two wartime deployments, leading-edge research, and Medals of Valor for each of them. The University of Minnesota brought the Careys (Betty uses Oseid professionally) together. And by giving back, the couple has helped to ensure a healthier future for others.
For the first time ever, physician-scientists at the University of Minnesota have demonstrated that a lethal skin disease can be successfully treated with stem cell therapy.
Medical School researchers John E. Wagner, M.D., and Jakub Tolar, M.D., Ph.D. — in collaboration with researchers in Oregon, the United Kingdom, and Japan — used stem cells from bone marrow to repair the skin of patients with a fatal skin disease called recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB).
Philanthropy makes a real difference in the lives of children with debilitating diseases and disorders. Because of Alfred and Ingrid Lenz Harrison’s $1 million challenge gift to the University of Minnesota’s Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Initiative in 2007, for example, researchers here are digging deeper into the causes and possible therapies for autism and related conditions.
Christopher Meyer, M.D., loved her career as a pediatric critical care doctor at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. It was an intense job that required her to be on her feet all day, but she was continually amazed at the strength of the families she met. But a childhood spine condition made it difficult and often painful for Meyer to stand for hours on end. She had several surgeries, trying to alleviate the pain, and each had a rather long recovery period when she couldn't work at all.
The University of Minnesota andFairview Health Services have launched a $175 million campaign to support pediatric research, education, and care at the new home for University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.
The campaign, led by the Minnesota Medical Foundation, already has raised $84 million — nearly half of its goal.
In recognition of a lifetime of support, the University of Minnesota in June named the newest building in its Biomedical Discovery District the Winston and Maxine Wallin Medical Biosciences Building.
The growing district is a biomedical sciences research park located on the University’s East Bank campus near TCF Bank Stadium. In addition to their generous financial support, the Wallins — both University alumni — have contributed their time and talents to the advancement of higher education, particularly in the health sciences.
When second -year University of Minnesota, Duluth medical student Anya Gybina, Ph.D., joined the Dr. Nancy English Memorial 5K Walk/Run on July 31, she was running in the footsteps of someone a lot like her.
Gybina is the first medical student to receive the Nancy I. English, M.D., Scholarship, which was designated for a woman medical student on the Duluth campus by English’s daughters, Hilary and Emily Crook; husband, Thomas Crook; and father, Blake English. Nancy English, a member of the Medical School Class of 1992, died suddenly in August 2008.
Ruth Bachman had never been afraid of public speaking. In her roles as educator, travel guide, and volunteer coordinator, she'd spoken to dozens of groups and organizations.
But her speech before a University of Minnesota audience in 2004 differed from any she'd given in the past. This time, she was telling her personal story — about how she lost her left hand and how the experience changed her.
Friends are surprised when Joanie Videen, 54, says it is sleep, not food, that has put her over the moon about her pancreas transplant in July. "It’s the best gift I've ever had," she says. "I can sleep all night."
While Videen has dealt with diabetes for nearly 20 years, for the past decade she experienced hypoglycemia unawareness, meaning she had none of the warning symptoms that help diabetics recognize when their blood glucose level falls too low.
Lowell Kruse was the youngest student in the Master of Healthcare Administration (M.H.A.) Program when he came to the School of Public Health (SPH) in 1965. He was 21 and had just graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His wife, Leslie, was 19. They drove to Minnesota in Lowell’s father’s cattle truck with their furniture and 6-week-old baby. "We were absolutely clueless," says Leslie. "We looked like the Clampetts."
Twin Cities ophthalmologist Richard L. Lindstrom, M.D., has many fond memories of campus life as a University of Minnesota medical student, including his fraternity involvement and season tickets to Gopher football games. But most memorable and inspiring, he says, was the support he received from others.