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Professor emeritus starts campaign to help neurology residents attend national conferences

Arthur Klassen, M.D.

For neurologist Arthur Klassen, M.D., teaching is a lifelong passion.

Now a professor emeritus, Klassen spent 37 years on the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Neurology Department faculty. During that time, he served as acting chair, built a brain blood-flow lab, and established one of the nation’s first stroke intensive care units.

“But I still think of training medical students and residents as being among the most significant and lasting things I’ve done,” says Klassen, who also led the department’s residency program.

Klassen believes that one of the critical places where young clinicians learn is far from campus. Attending a national conference such as the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology is not only a training program requirement, but it’s also a key career move, he says.

“The national conferences are where residents are exposed to the tremendous breadth of current research in the field,” he says. “They have the opportunity to hear the major minds of neurology giving lectures and discussing recent findings. And they have a chance to present their own research.”

These conferences also provide young neurologists with a place to network.

And as state funding for residency programs has tightened over the past few years, Klassen saw a chance to secure that opportunity for neurology residents.

At first, he intended to give a modest gift to help out. Then he realized a sizeable donation could have a more enduring effect, so he gave $50,000 to create the Neurology Resident Educational Travel Fund.

“My hope was to seed a larger effort,” he says. “I really envisioned it as the beginning of a fundraising project that will hopefully become a permanent source of money to support this part of their training.”

His donation initiated a larger-scale effort to raise $300,000 for an endowed fund that will enable up to six residents a year to travel to key conferences.

“The neurology program is one of the premier in the country and always has been,” he says. “We have top-notch residents, many of whom go on to academic careers. Funding their ability to attend these national conferences is more than worthwhile—it’s providing them with the next level of opportunity.”

To contribute to the Neurology Resident Educational Travel Fund, visit or contact Tracy Ketchem at 612-625-1906 or

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