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.
"Healing is the most important ingredient in Native American cooking," says chef Jason Champagne, a member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa and student in the School of Public Health who is pursuing a master's degree in public health nutrition. "Indigenous foods are a path to health and a way for us to recover our communities."
No one was more stunned than Tom Maloney when his wife was diagnosed with appendix cancer nearly three years ago. Betti Boers Maloney had always been fit, active, and health-conscious. At 60, after raising four children (a blended family, formed when the couple married in 1984) and working as the office manager for her husband's medical device materials business, she looked like the picture of health.
Agnes Johnson spent decades worrying about her daughter, Ana Belle, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 16. As Johnson aged, she decided to set up a fund to ensure that Ana Belle would always be cared for; in the event of Ana Belle's death, her mother wanted the money to go to the University of Minnesota, where it could support schizophrenia research. When Ana Belle died two years ago, Johnson's careful planning resulted in a generous gift to the U.
A. Stuart Hanson, M.D., went to Dartmouth College on a four-year scholarship that covered his tuition and books. The support was invaluable to a middle-class kid from South Minneapolis, and he never forgot it. "I think the day you receive a scholarship, you have a desire to give back," says Hanson, who recently retired after a lifelong career as a pulmonologist with Park Nicollet Clinic in Minneapolis. "So that's what I'm doing."
Even when you've been hospitalized countless times and you're supported by a loving network like Lizzie Bell's ... even when you're as tough and brave as Lizzie herself, there's nothing easy about a blood and marrow transplant. It's a grueling and terrifying process. But thanks to several donors and the healing surroundings they've created, it's a lot less scary for some young patients at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital.
When Leo Fung, M.D., died in 2005, family and colleagues of the former chief of urology at what's now University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital were stunned. To make sure Fung's legacy lives on, his family has created a lectureship series and a program for pediatric urology scholars in his honor.
William Lewis Anderson never had the chance to fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor. The combat medic died trying to save a wounded soldier on the battlefield in Italy during WWII. Now, more than seven decades later, a $4 million gift made in his honor will help train today's medics and help heal the psychological scars that haunt some veterans who return home.
Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan is giving patients at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital and their siblings a new place to play. Sullivan pledged $150,000 last fall to create the Sullivan Playground, a safe and accessible space designed by Minnesota company Landscape Structures for children of all abilities.
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.