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Giving to medicine and health at the University of Minnesota

Biomedical Discovery District

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.

View a photo slideshow of the opening. (Photo: Scott Streble)

The University of Minnesota revealed another 280,000 square feet of state-of-the-art space on June 14 at a grand opening celebration for its Cancer and Cardiovascular Research Building.

Photo: Brady Willette

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.

Image courtesy of Architectural Alliance/ZGF Architects.

The University of Minnesota broke ground May 11 on a state-of-the-art research building — the “gateway” to the institution’s Biomedical Discovery District. When it’s complete in spring 2013, the Cancer and Cardiovascular Research Building will bring together top University investigators to discover the next wave of cancer and cardiovascular therapies.


When the University of Minnesota's new, state-of-the-art cancer and cardiovascular research building is complete in 2013, it will bring top researchers together across disciplines to discover the next generation of cancer and heart therapies.

Six-year-old Kira Rogers, with her parents, Michele and Mike, received sight-preserving medical treatment at the University of Minnesota. (Photo: Jason Wachter)

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.

Frank Cerra

No one told senior vice president for health sciences and Medical School dean Frank Cerra, M.D., that the average tenure for a medical school leader in this country is only three and a half years. But then there’s been nothing average about Cerra since the day in 1981 when he arrived at the University of Minnesota as a tenured faculty member in the Department of Surgery.

Win and Maxine Wallin.

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.

Biomedical Discovery District (Image courtesy of Architectural Alliance)

As University of Minnesota leaders continue to refine the design plans for a new Cancer and Cardiovascular Research Complex in the institution’s burgeoning Biomedical Discovery District, investigators are eager to take advantage of the building’s many benefits.

The new facility is expected to house 24 lead cancer researchers plus their staffs. Among those researchers is David Largaespada, Ph.D., who oversees the Masonic Cancer Center’s Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Research Program.

Jay Krachmer, M.D., head of the department of Ophthalmology; Patty Porter, Minnesota Medical Foundation vice president of development; Lions member Lynn Farley; and Richard Reger, Minnesota Lions Eye Bank, Inc., board chair. (Photo by Tim Rummelhoff)

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (July 31, 2010)—Minnesota Lions Eye Bank, Inc., board chair Richard J. Reger presented a $3 million check, representing a pledge to the University of Minnesota to establish the Minnesota Lions Fund to Prevent Blindness in Infants and Children.

The gift, made through the Minnesota Medical Foundation, will advance research, education and care in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Thumbnail image for Win and Maxine Wallin.

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (06/21/2010) —In recognition of a lifetime of support, the University of Minnesota has named the newest building in its Biomedical Discovery District the Winston and Maxine Wallin Medical Biosciences Building.

Alzheimer’s disease researcher Karen Hsiao Ashe, M.D., Ph.D., cuts the ceremonial ribbon at the Medical Biosciences Building opening December 1, while scientist Harry Orr, Ph.D., and Medical School Dean Frank Cerra, M.D., look on. (Photo: Emily Jensen)

A chat between colleagues in the hallway can spark the beginnings of a major medical discovery. For researchers at the University of Minnesota whose offices may be scattered across campus‚ bouncing ideas off of one another in person just got easier.

In December, the University opened a $79.3 million, 115‚000-plus-square-foot Medical Biosciences Building to house scientists who are studying Alzheimer’s disease and other brain-related diseases as well as the immune system.


Amid the fanfare over the University of Minnesota’s new TCF Bank Stadium, scientists working in labs across the street from it are engaged in quieter but higher-stakes activities. These leading researchers at the University’s Stem Cell Institute along with others performing stem cell research across the campus may hold in their Petri dishes the keys to unlocking the mysteries of diabetes, cancer, heart failure, brain injury — even aging.

Looking forward to the move are Michael Koob, Ph.D. (front), and his lab team of (from left) Kellie Benzow,Young Yoon, Ph.D., and Yi-Wei Yang, M.S.

Sometimes the beginning of a breakthrough happens on a short walk down the hall to a colleague's office. For ataxia researchers and other neuroscientists at the University of Minnesota‚ whose offices may be scattered in buildings across campus‚ bouncing ideas off of one another in person is not always so easy.


Thanks to bipartisan support from the state legislature and Governor Tim Pawlenty, the University of Minnesota will construct four state-of-the-art research buildings as part of the Minnesota Biomedical Research Program. The five-year project, backed by university-sold bonds, will cost $292 million. The state will help repay 75 percent of those bonds, about $219 million. The remainder will come from philanthropy and other sources.

Building momentum

It's a Wednesday afternoon, and things are hopping at the McGuire Translational Research Facility.

In one of the 30 offices lining the south side of the four-story building, a faculty member in the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Medicine is tapping intently at a keyboard. Just down the hall, through doors that open to a long, day-lit laboratory, a student pipettes liquid into a rack full of tubes, preparing to grow plasmids as part of a study on developing gene therapies for brain cancer. At a table looking out over the four-story atrium, three graduate students—perhaps from the Stem Cell Institute or the orphan drug program—eat late lunches from plastic containers. Upstairs and down, dozens of others are working on solutions to a spectrum of health problems: TB, HIV, malaria, Parkinson's, spinal cord injury.

Charles Marvin Jr., M.D., Class of 1981, and Reimert Ravenholt, M.D.,Class of 1951, chat before their class dinners.

Reunion Weekend 2006 began on May 19 for eight celebrating classes between 1946 and 1996 with updates on medical education and research at the University. Alumni also toured the cutting-edge McGuire Translational Research Facility and attended the Alumni Recognition Banquet, which honored distinguished members of the University community. To wrap up the weekend, each reunion class met for an individual class dinner on May 20. "Everything was great—the impressive facilities, the wonderful food, and especially the socializing with fellow graduates and their spouses," says John E. Quast, M.D., Class of 1956. "It was a perfect way to celebrate our special 50th reunion."

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