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.
Boisterous, spirited, gregarious—all words that describe Marcia Fluer, known to many for her 18-plus years as a Twin Cities TV-news political reporter. Quiet she is not—playfully smiling as she lists “meddling” as a favorite pastime. But Fluer was temporarily silenced in 2001 following a life-threatening bout with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
ARDS landed Fluer in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview (UMMC), with respiratory failure requiring a mechanical ventilator and a drug-induced coma for 18 days. When she finally returned home, she couldn’t type or write; she was using a walker and had an oxygen tank in tow. But thanks to the care she received at the U, Fluer made a full recovery—and hasn’t lost her inquisitive nature.
Regular attendees of the St. Francis, Minn., Pioneer Days—complete with amusement park rides, a kids’ tractor pull, and fireworks—came to know the voice of Jim Smith, a parade emcee for many years. In fact, Smith was well known for his community involvement, which extended far beyond his vocal talents.
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.
It’s 5:45 a.m. and attorney David Murphy, 40, is lacing his shoes before heading out of his St. Paul home for a run. This routine is part of a training regimen for Murphy’s numerous 2012 races, which will culminate in his first 26.2-miler—the Twin Cities Marathon—in October.
Murphy is running to bring attention to the work under way at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Lung Science and Health and to honor his late mother, Judy Murphy, who had battled idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) before receiving a lung transplant in 2001. IPF is an incurable lung disease that causes lung scarring; slowly reducing lung function to zero.
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.
Another member of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Lung Science and Health (CLSH) has received a major national award from the American Thoracic Society (ATS). In May, John Marini, M.D., a professor of medicine in the University’s Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine division, received the ATS Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes those “who have made outstanding contributions to fighting respiratory disease through research, education, patient care and advocacy.”
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.
For Jamie Hammer, 31, cystic fibrosis (CF) has always been a major part of her daily life. Diagnosed when she was 5 months old, Jamie has always lived with daily chest-pounding therapies, 50-pills-a-day regimens, daily IV treatments, and a host of related complications. But this past winter, all that changed—for the better.
While skiing in Breckenridge, Colorado in, 1991, Ed Schuck found himself gasping for air, and it wasn’t just the altitude. Schuck, who was then age 51, was diagnosed with Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (Alpha-1) a genetic disease that can cause lung failure and liver disease. Alpha-1 is caused by decreased or abnormal production of a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin (A1AT), which is produced by the liver and protects the lungs from inflammation and inhaled irritants.
The University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview and University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital are again among an elite group of hospitals named the nation’s best by *U.S. News & World Report*. The annual rankings are based in part on reputation, death rate, and care-related factors such as nursing and patient services.
When Jason Swain was 18 months old, his parents noticed that he was not gaining weight and his sweat seemed salty. After several visits to the doctor, Jason’s family got the devastating diagnosis—Jason had cystic fibrosis. The year was 1972 and at that time children with cystic fibrosis (CF) were not expected to live to age 10.
While sitting in the lobby of the Transplant Center at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, in May 2010, Liz Johnson spots one of her doctors as he turns the corner to leave the clinic. She quickly turns to her father, Dick: "Dad, there goes Dr. Kempainen. Go see if you can catch him. I want to show him my medal." Around her neck hangs a participation medal that she had earned only a few days earlier for running a half marathon back home in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Each year, surgeons in the University of Minnesota’s Center for Lung Science and Health (CLSH) perform 20 to 50 lung transplants on patients who have pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—all devastating illnesses for which transplants are often the only option.
Tobacco researchers with the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota are on a roll.
In April a team led by Jian-Min Yuan, M.D., Ph.D., announced that it had discovered a direct link between two tobacco byproducts and the development of lung cancer in some smokers. It was the first time a direct link between specific tobacco carcinogens and lung cancer in humans had been identified.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have made recent advances in early detection, prevention, and risk reduction related to lung-damaging conditions such as cancer and pulmonary fibrosis. The National Cancer Institute recently awarded University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center scientist Jian-Min Yuan, M.D., Ph.D., a five-year grant of more than $3 million to continue his efforts to identify tobacco byproducts in urine that predict lung cancer risk.
University of Minnesota researchers in the Medical School's Center for Lung Science and Health (CLSH) received an $8.4 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to study a deadly chronic lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF.
IPF affects one out of every 10,000 people in the United States, usually striking people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. Doctors have not identified the cause of IPF, and currently, there is no treatment. Through this NIH-funded study, University researchers aim to better understand the disease and develop new therapies or even a cure.
The University's School of Public Health (SPH) has taken the lead role in a research initiative examining the relationship between a rare form of cancer and taconite mining in northern Minnesota.
The SPH is partnering with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), which turned over control of the research in June when it came under fire for suppressing information about the number of deaths from mesothelioma among miners on the Iron Range. At least 58 former miners have died of mesothelioma, a cancer that has been strongly linked to asbestos exposure.
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.
The second meeting of the Minnesota Taconite Worker Lung Health Partnership, led by SPH Dean John Finnegan and representing organizations with an interest in mine worker health, took place in December in Eveleth, Minn. The partnership was formed to study whether particles generated by taconite mining are causing lung disease on Minnesota's Iron Range. Finnegan and Jeffrey Mandel, SPH environmental health sciences associate professor and lead researcher, updated partners on the project. They were joined by colleagues from the University of Minnesota-Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute, who will study the geology of the Iron Range.
At first Gary Broberg figured it was just a matter of being 49. As winter 2004 turned to spring, the Mendota Heights father of two found he didn't have the energy he once did. He got winded going up a flight of stairs. It seemed he was always out of breath. He felt odd ... and old.
By Memorial Day weekend Broberg decided he'd better see a doctor. He was advised to exercise and lose weight. He also was treated for various ailments, to no avail. Finally, in July he was referred to a pulmonologist.
When Dave Amato was diagnosed with usual interstitial pneumonitis in 2002, the life-threatening lung disease was already at an advanced stage. Soon his wife, Anne, was on the phone with lung transplant centers all over the country, including the transplant center at the University of Minnesota.
Less than two years later—thanks to two unrelated lung donors and the medical team's expertise—Amato had a successful living-donor lung transplant at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview.
Center for Bioethics faculty member Maryam Valapour, M.D., hopes to improve living-donor lung transplantation for both donors and recipients with a $750,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study barriers to the procedure.
Valapour, who is also an assistant professor of medicine in pulmonary and critical care, will be comparing policies and practices of living-donor kidney transplantation with living-donor lung transplantation at a group of institutions that perform or have performed both types.
In research likely to improve understanding of lung development and disease, University researchers have coaxed umbilical cord blood stem cells to differentiate into a type of lung cell.
These lung cells, called type II alveolar cells, secrete surfactant, a substance that allows air sacs in the lungs to stay open so air can flow in and out. They also help to repair injuries to the airway.
No one said quitting would be easy, but it may be more difficult for African Americans than for Caucasians, according to research at the University of Minnesota.
In a study led by Kolawole Okuyemi, M.D., M.P.H., African American smokers showed greater brain responses to smoking cues, such as images of individuals smoking, than did Caucasian smokers.
What started eight years ago as a benefit for one family has blossomed into a full-fledged hockey tournament that raises thousands of dollars a year for breast cancer research.
It all began when a so-called "hockey mom" in the Circle Pines Centennial Hockey Association got breast cancer, explains Jackie Olson, who now organizes the fund-raiser. "The family didn't have enough money to pay the bills, so Sue Olson, another mother in the association, and her family started this tournament," Olson says.
Smokers know that nicotine withdrawal can be extremely tough. But now there's a promising new vaccine that may help smokers quit in an entirely new way.
A new study led by University of Minnesota researcher Dorothy Hatsukami, Ph.D., indicates that the nicotine vaccine NicVax appears to be safe, well-tolerated, and potentially effective for reducing nicotine dependence.
Whoever said there was a finite amount of energy in the universe has not met Dylan Mertz. This six-year-old just can't get enough of life. He plays soccer and baseball. He loves to learn just about anything, and then tell you all about it. As far as he's concerned, everyone in the world falls into one of two categories: friend or future friend.
But life was not always this way. When he was born, Dylan had distressingly poor muscle tone. After a couple of months he started to lose weight—even though he was getting plenty of food. When he was five months old his parents, Pam and Lou Mertz, brought him from their home in St. Michael to the University of Minnesota to be tested for cystic fibrosis. They had read about the inherited disease on Internet pages filled with stories of disrupted lives and early deaths.