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.
Stem cell therapy has been a hot topic in cardiovascular sciences for more than a decade. The theory is that if doctors can successfully introduce stem cells--unspecialized cells that have the remarkable ability to become different types of specialized cells as they grow—to areas of heart muscle that have been injured during a heart attack, the damage could be repaired.
Before a new drug or medical device can be made available to patients, it must go through lengthy and stringent testing through a clinical trial to make sure it's safe and effective. While these studies do carry some risk, they offer access to tomorrow's treatments right now. And the Lillehei Clinical Research Unit is there to make sure it's a safe process for participants and a smooth one for investigators.
At the University of Minnesota Medical Center today, the lung transplant waiting list is half the length it was six months ago, thanks in part to a new technology that's making more donated lungs worthy of transplantation. "For some patients, that is the difference between life and death," says U assistant professor of surgery and cardiothoracic surgeon Gabriel Loor, M.D.
Though Tom Anderson is a University of Minnesota alumnus ('80 B.S.), his most vivid memories of campus are from his childhood. That's because in the fall of 1963, Anderson spent about a month at the Variety Club Heart Hospital after having a risky open-heart surgery to repair his congenital atrial septal defect, which causes reduced oxygen in the body's blood supply and gets progressively worse. At the time, even under the skilled care of the University team that pioneered the procedure, it carried a 50-50 chance of success.
At Family Camp Weekends hosted by the University of Minnesota's Paul and Sheila Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center, "you'll see families just being families," says Joline Dalton, M.S., C.G.C., a U genetics counselor who helped start the wildly popular camp five years ago. "It's a place where you don't have to worry if your child can participate, because everything is geared toward MD."
Early-stage cancer patients have become one of medicine's biggest success stories, as the almost 14 million survivors in the United States would be happy to attest. But for many of them, another threat lurks in the background: heart disease. Through its integrated cardio-oncology program, the University of Minnesota has taken aim at this problem with a full-bore range of research and treatment facilities geared toward the prevention and early detection of heart disease in cancer patients, and its physicians are helping patients already diagnosed with cardiovascular problems withstand cancer treatment.
When Dorothy Busch died in 2011 at age 92, her son, Tom Busch, told his cousin that his mom was his hero. The cousin, he recalls, replied, "You know, Tom, she was a hero to many, many people." It was that sentiment that prompted Tom to set up the Dorothy M. Busch Memorial Endowed Fund to support aortic valve disease and related research at the University of Minnesota.
At the Adult Congenital and Cardiovascular Genetics Center at the University of Minnesota, Cindy Martin, M.D., works with people who were born with heart defects or inherited heart diseases and finds ways to alleviate their symptoms. But in the laboratory, she conducts research that delves deeper into what exactly in the patients' genetic makeup caused their disease. And many of her patients jump at the chance to be a part of it.
Kaye Lillehei knew she was making a good investment in 2000 when she committed $13 million to the University of Minnesota to create the Lillehei Heart Institute. So when the longtime University advocate and volunteer died in November at age 91, her family felt it was only right to make a gift to the University in her honor.
By midsummer, University of Minnesota scientists engaged in cancer and cardiovascular research will be settling into their new building across from TCF Bank Stadium. Conceived as the gateway to the University's burgeoning Biomedical Discovery District (BDD), the Cancer and Cardiovascular Research Building will not only house researchers, it will also welcome passersby inside to see firsthand the impact of the research being done throughout the BDD.
It’s taken personal tragedy, years of research, and a mysterious late-night epiphany for Marie Guion Johnson, Ph.D., to develop a promising new medical device that can detect coronary-artery blockage. Her invention, called the CADence™, is a noninvasive handheld tool that she hopes eventually will be used as a functional test for people at high risk of developing heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
You could call it a long-term, heartfelt commitment. In addition to its large, ongoing research contract, Medtronic recently committed another $350,000 to the University of Minnesota’s Visible Heart® Laboratory—the only place in the world where human hearts (donated, not suitable for transplantation) are reanimated so scientists can see exactly how they work from the inside.
On September 2, 1952, a sickly Jacqueline Johnson came to the University of Minnesota Hospitals for help. Jacqueline, the 5-year-old daughter of traveling carnival workers, had an atrial septal defect that needed repair—a repair that had never been done before. But pioneering University surgeon F. John Lewis, M.D., Ph.D., took the bold move of attempting the fix.
Though he's still early in his medical career, Demetris Yannopoulos, M.D., isn't waiting to make his mark on the field of cardiology. He is considered an authority in cardiorespiratory interactions and hypothermia during CPR, and his work in has already helped to improve CPR practices—thereby saving lives of people who need it.
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."
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.
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.
If you would like to support groundbreaking research at the University of Minnesota and also receive steady income for life, a charitable gift annuity may be right for you. Through a simple contract, you agree to make a donation of cash, stocks, or other assets to the Minnesota Medical Foundation. In return, we agree to pay you a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.
Traditional heart imaging methods may not always provide enough information for physicians to understand the cause of a patient’s symptoms or plan the best treatment. The new frontier in advanced imaging includes cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT (computed tomography), and PET (positron emission tomography), which open up a whole new level of information for every area of cardiovascular medicine.
Demetris Yannopoulos, M.D., and a group of collaborators aim to improve survival rates after sudden cardiac arrest—when the heart unexpectedly stops beating—by at least 50 percent in five years through an innovative implementation and awareness effort called the HeartRescue Project. The goal? For every American who suffers sudden cardiac arrest to receive evidence-based, state-of-the-art care at the scene, en route to the hospital, and at the hospital.
For one special group of students, summer isn’t about waiting tables, babysitting, or hanging out at the mall. Instead, they’ll be working side by side with researchers from the Lillehei Heart Institute, learning about everything from stem cell therapies to career paths in cardiovascular medicine through the Summer Research Scholars Program.
When 66-year-old Patty Bilkey experienced sudden fatigue on a Monday in late June last year, she attributed it to the only reasonable explanation she could think of — overdoing herself during a “girls’ weekend” away.
But when her skin became clammy and she began experiencing flu-like symptoms with a slight pain in her left arm, she became more concerned.
“I remember I was sitting at the computer that morning, looking up ‘how to get more energy’ when it dawned on me that I should instead be doing a search on signs of a heart attack,” Bilkey says.
University of Minnesota researchers have developed a new method for creating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), which can differentiate into many different types of the cells in the body and are used in medical research focused on diabetes, cancer, and many other diseases. This new process will dramatically speed up the creation of iPS cells and improve their quality, which could accelerate the treatment of many otherwise incurable diseases.
Michael Johnson would have been shocked to learn last summer that his heart would fail by fall. Then came September 6, 2010, when he suffered a massive heart attack. While recovering at Fairview Southdale Hospital and facing a future limited by significant heart failure, Johnson got another surprise: University of Minnesota researchers asked him to participate in an innovative cell therapy study that might improve his prognosis. He agreed, and 10 days after his heart attack, doctors injected 150 million of Johnson's own stem cells from his bone marrow into his heart.
When Jaclyn and Tony Doffin found out that they were having triplets, they got busy planning for their new life with three infants. One of the triplets was diagnosed with a heart condition prior to birth, but the family never anticipated the devastating complications that their baby would have as a result. When the triplets, Tyler, Sophia, and Grace, were born on September 8, 2008, doctors quickly determined that Grace had a more severe case of hypoplastic right heart syndrome than originally thought. “She was born with three [heart] chambers,” explains Tony. “She was missing the one that pumped [blood] to the lungs.”
If people took medications known to reduce their risk of a heart attack, nearly 90 percent of first-time heart attacks could be prevented, according to a University of Minnesota study. The study builds a strong case for increased screening efforts designed to detect heart disease before it becomes symptomatic, especially for people with a history of heart disease in their family.
Celebrate a history of innovation and future discoveries at the first-ever Red Hot Soirée, a benefit for the Lillehei Heart Institute. Cardiovascular disease touches each of us. As the number one killer in the United States across all gender, ages, and races, heart disease affects 1 out of every 3 people. However, in the fight against this disease we are faced with many challenges. Even though 2,400 Americans die of cardiovascular disease every day, funding for vital research and patient services is not keeping up with demand.
People with type 2 diabetes, whose bodies are unable to regulate glucose levels, are significantly more likely to get heart disease than people who don't have diabetes. So Jennifer Hall, Ph.D., director of the program in translational cardiovascular genomics at the University of Minnesota, hopes that her research focused on identifying what predisposes a person to type 2 diabetes also may shed light on what factors lead to heart disease.