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Human Sexuality

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.

Research by Ashley Haase, Ph.D., and Pat Schlievert, Ph.D., fuels hope that the inexpensive and naturally occurring compound GML can someday be used to help prevent the spread of HIV. (Photo:Emily Jensen)

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have identified a compound that, when applied vaginally in monkeys, can prevent transmission of the primate version of HIV, called simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV.

Department of Microbiology investigators Ashley Haase, Ph.D., and Pat Schlievert, Ph.D., found that glycerol monolaurate (GML), a naturally occurring compound the FDA recognizes as safe, prevented SIV infection in monkeys that were exposed to large doses of the virus. The inexpensive compound is widely used as an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent in food and cosmetics.


N. L. ("Neal") Gault Jr., M.D., beloved former dean and alumnus of the University of Minnesota Medical School, died December 11 of pancreatic cancer at his St. Paul home. He was 88.

Dan Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the University of Minnesota a $100,000 Grand Challenges Exploration grant for a global health research project that will explore the use of new stem cell-based therapies to fight the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

To ensure his program’s future, Eli Coleman, Ph.D., has pledged his entire estate in support of the Medical School’s Chair in Sexual Health, which he now holds.

For years Eli Coleman, Ph.D., has been the media's go-to source for stories about sexual health. Need to know about the effectiveness of sex education in schools? Need a quote about how to rehabilitate sex offenders? How about stopping the spread of HIV? Coleman's your man.

A longtime professor and director of the Program in Human Sexuality in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Coleman has built his career at the University of Minnesota.

Melissa Geller, M.D., checks in with clinical research participant Angela Cabrera, who has ovarian cancer.

Not everyone helping to advance medical knowledge at the University of Minnesota is a researcher, physician, or nurse. Some of the most important contributors to health research are the patients who participate in clinical research studies.

They are not only learning about and getting access to leading-edge medical treatments, says Linda Carson, M.D., chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women's Health, "these women are contributing to the growth of scientific knowledge," she says. "It's altruism."


Though it was nearly 40 years ago, Shelley (not her real name) vividly remembers her first experience with shoplifting. The troubled then 16-year-old happened to like what she stole—a stylish maroon sweater—but it was the act of shoplifting itself that electrified her.

"My whole nervous system was excited," Shelley recalls. "It was like coming close to the fire and then escaping the danger; the relief and gratification were overwhelming."

Third-year pediatric resident John Anderson, M.D. (left), discusses a patient’s chart with John Andrews, M.D., director of the University’s pediatric residency program. The program has included an adolescent health component since 1988.

If you are reading this page, you have lived it: The hormone-driven emotional highs and lows. The risk and resilience. The vulnerability and invincibility. The rite of passage that Carol Burnett called "one big walking pimple."

It's adolescence, and it's no joke. In 2003, motor vehicle accidents, homicide, and suicide were the three leading causes of death among individuals aged 10 to 24—or 57 percent of all deaths in that age group, according to the National Adolescent Health Information Center. One in five 12th graders reported using cigarettes or taking drugs, and one in four said they were binge drinking. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the teen birthrate has increased for the first time since 1991.

Eli Coleman, Ph.D.

Eli Coleman, Ph.D., director since 1991 of the Medical School's Program in Human Sexuality, was elected president of the International Academy of Sex Research at the academy's annual meeting in August.

Coleman's election to the position followed his recent appointment as inaugural holder of the University's endowed chair in sexual health--the first of its kind in the world--and his receipt in April of the Gold Medal Award 2007 at the XVIII World Congress of the World Association for Sexual Health.

June LaValleur, M.D., explains how menopause can affect a woman’s bone density.

When one of her young cancer patients wants to have a baby, gynecologic oncologist Rahel Ghebre, M.D., will send her to colleague Kirk Ramin, M.D., who specializes in high-risk pregnancy.

June LaValleur, M.D., who specializes in mature women's health, has steered patients with new cancer diagnoses to Ghebre. And cancer specialists with midlife and older patients experiencing sexual function concerns have referred those patients to LaValleur.


A discovery by University researchers provides a target for developing new types of drugs to stop retroviruses, including HIV, from infecting cells and spreading through the body.

The research team, led by Nikunj Somia, Ph.D., assistant professor of genetics, cell biology, and development, identified a cell line that is resistant to three types of retroviruses, including human immunodeficiency virus type 1.

Thumbnail image for Oncologist Tufia Haddad, M.D., says real-time MRI monitoring and data analysis through the I-SPY2 clinical trial will help to determine which new drugs are most beneficial for breast cancer patients. (Photo: Richard Anderson)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this summer approved a vaccine to protect women against cervical cancer. The vaccine prevents infection by four strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV)‚ a sexually transmitted infection that is the most common cause of cervical cancer.

Levi Downs Jr., M.D., assistant professor in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology and a member of the University of Minnesota Cancer Center‚ was one of the principal investigators on the international study.

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