Medical School Monthly Newsletter

November Welcome Note

Jakub Tolar MD PhD

November again...and what a year it has been! The December Scope will be replaced by the Medical School Annual Report, so I will just say a quick "thank you!" for everything you have done this year. I am deeply grateful for your commitment to the Medical School and for everything you do here. Special thanks to those of you who are working to care for patients on days and at times when most others rest. To all of you, I hope that the months to come offer you some time away from work, some time with friends and family, and time to rest.


  • Providing a Pathway to Medicine and Research

    This fall, the Medical School Duluth Campus welcomed the very first cohort of the Gateways to Medicine and Research MS program designed for students with four-year degrees who need additional preparation for medical school or PhD programs. Says director Dr. Pedro Fernandez-Funez, "These students are highly deserving of an opportunity to go to medical school or pursue careers in research, and our job here is to tell them there is a pathway for their career goals." READ MORE>>

  • Offering Freedom from Ulcerative Colitis

    Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract are not easy to talk about, let alone seek help for. But when Rhona Shwaid was unable to stray far enough from a bathroom even to take a walk around a lake, she knew it was time to seek treatment for her ulcerative colitis. Working with Dr. Genevieve Melton-Meux and her team gave Rhona something back she thought she would never have a again - her freedom. READ MORE>>

Pursuing Excellence

  • Dr. Rui Zhang Receives Award from National Cancer Institute

    Dr. Rui Zhang is working to develop an innovative AI-drive framework that addresses data imbalance in biomedical data. He recently received an R01 award from the National Cancer Institute to advance this exciting research. LEARN MORE>>

  • Dr. Catherine Bendel Receives Graduate Medical Education Lifetime Achievement Award

    Dr. Catherine Bendel received the U of M's Graduate Medical Education Lifetime Achievement Award for her noteworthy and lasting contributions to education. Dr. Bendel served as the director of the Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship Program for 25 years, recruiting over 50 fellows to the program. Congratulations, Dr. Bendel! READ MORE>>

  • Celebrating Research Week Abstract Poster Winners

    Congratulations to the Department of Surgery's Research Week 2023 abstract poster winners! These scholars represented research in health informatics, translational, clinical, and educational exploration. Special guests from the second-year Tuskegee University cohort also traveled to Twin Cities to join the abstract event. LEARN MORE>>

  • Developing Novel Drugs for Solid Tumors

    Development Therapeutics at the clinical level is the dance of a highly collaborative, transdisciplinary research association and part of a critical translational innovation hub. The Development Therapeutics Initiative is currently working on a number of studies focused on novel drug-based treatments for solid tumors. Learn more about about the faculty involved and their exciting research developments. READ MORE>>

  • U of M TropEd Becomes First North American Member

    Global Medicine is pleased to share that the tropEd general assembly in Barcelona approved their entry into tropEd as the first North American member. TropEd is a network of educational programs in global health with members around the world. The president of tropEd visited the U of M course in May as part of the membership application. LEARN MORE>>

  • Malique Delbrune Receives Outstanding Poster Presenter Award

    Congratulations to medical student Malique Delbrune for receiving the American College of Gastroenterology's Outstanding Poster Presenter Award for the poster "Early Childhood Environmental Risks for Eosinophilic Esophagitis: A Systemic Review and Meta-analysis" at the 2023 meeting. Co-authors included Drs. Nicha Wongjarupong, Vikram Christian, and Joshua Sloan. LEARN MORE>>

  • Miranda Harris Receives MAFP Medical Student Leadership Award

    For third year medical student Miranda Harris, the joy of medicine lies in representing patients who come from backgrounds like her. Raised between Florida and Ecuador, Harris is a fluent Spanish speaker who has dedicated herself to improving health access for Hispanic communities. Her commitment to leadership in health equity earned her the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians' 2023 Medical Student Leadership Award. READ MORE>>

  • Dr. Bronwyn Southwell Receives $2 Million Grant Award

    Dr. Bronwyn Southwell received a $2 million award for her FDA U01 grant titled, "Managing Perioperative Pain with Abdominal Laparoscopic Surgery: A Collaborative to Develop, Disseminate, and Evaluate Evidence-Based Practices (M-PALS Collaborative)." Collaborators are from the Department of Surgery, the School of Public Health, and UC San Francicsco. READ MORE>>

  • Dr. Devaleena Das Recognized with Innovation Impact Case Award

    Dr. Devaleena Das has received the Innovation Impact Case Award recognizing U of M research that has had a significant impact outside of academia. Dr. Das led a research team in Northern Minnesota that developed a digital archive of experiential COVID-19 stories. READ MORE>>


  • Researching New Treatments for Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis

    Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is a rare and frustrating kidney disorder affecting both children and adults, which results in a lower quality of life. Pediatric nephrologist Dr. Michelle Rheault published new research findings about a potential new treatment for children suffering from FSGS. READ MORE>>

  • Identifying COPD Outcomes in Rural Minnesotans

    New research from the Medical School and Minneapolis VA Health Care System shows that people living in rural areas have worse chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) outcomes than those living urban areas. These outcomes are thought to be the result of longer drive times to specialty care and receiving "suboptimal inhaler regimens after being hospitalized." LEARN MORE>>

  • Addressing Bias in Dermatology Through Art

    Faculty and students from the Duluth Campus were featured in an article in Blue Toad focused on a unique and innovative assignment given to first-year medical students: use art to create an expression of their understanding of bias and racism in dermatology. Medical student Clayton Metcalf's oil painting was featured on the cover of the magazine. Metcalf says, "This painting was created to express the lack of diversity in medical dermatology resources and the negative effects it can have on patient outcomes." LEARN MORE>>

  • Raising Questions About Ancient Climate Change Adaptation

    Dr. Alexandra Zachwieja and her team of research collaborators recently published a paper in Scientific Reports. The study analyzed what the environment was like for ancient humans living in Northern Laos, raising questions about how these individuals responded to climate change. READ MORE>>

  • Announcing Newest Mothers Leading Science Cohort

    The Clinical and Translational Science Institute's (CTSI) Mothers Leading Science program is working to tear down barriers and address the challenges of women with children in academic health sciences research. Meet the fifth cohort of researchers. LEARN MORE>>

  • Measuring the Well-Being of Faculty, Staff, and Students

    New research from the Medical School's Office of Assessment and Evaluation and the Office of Faculty Affairs provides insight into the wellness and well-being of faculty, staff and learners. Results found that disability and department were influential indicators in predicting overall well-being scores. READ MORE>>

  • Remembering the Legacy of Jaime Fiske

    This year marks the 40th anniversary of Dr. John Najarian's performing a liver transplant on the youngest patient ever, 11-month-old Jaime Fiske. With a failing liver in an era when organ transplantation was only experimental, Jaime was not expected to reach her first birthday. The surgeon took a chance, and the rest is history. The Dept of Surgery celebrates this groundbreaking achievement that changed the field of transplantation and helped establish the National Organ Transplant Act. LEARN MORE>>

  • Celebrating Eye Donation Month in Minnesota

    In 1925, Helen Keller challenged members of the Lions International service organization to become "Knights of the Blind in the crusade against darkness." The Lions organization embraced her call to action and, years later, partnered with the University of Minnesota to established an eye bank, known as Lions Gift of Sight. In 2022, eye bank donations helped restore the sight of more than 1,664 people. This year Governor Tim Walz has proclaimed November "Eye Donation Month" in Minnesota. Learn more about how to help by registering to become an eye, organ, and tissue donor. LEARN MORE>>

  • Memory Keepers Medical Discovery Team Addresses Health Literacy

    What barriers lie between doctors and patients? A health literacy webinar by the Memory Keepers Medical Discovery Team in Duluth addressed this issue and helped patients learn how to find the information needed to make health decisions. The webinar was featured in a KIMT3 news story, and also emphasized that removing the barriers is the responsibility of health organizations as well. READ MORE>>

  • Department of Surgery's Tuskegee University Scholars Collaboration Participants Reflect on Experience

    Four undergraduate scholars who took part in the Department of Surgery's Tuskegee University Scholars Collaboration have returned from their summer experience and are sharing highlights from their time. READ MORE>>


  • We couldn't do it without you - November '23

    Celebrating staff anniversaries! 

    Congratulations to our staff who are reaching anniversary milestones of 10, 15, 20, 25 and up years of service! MS staff are essential to our missions of teaching, healing, and exploring. Celebrate the wealth of expertise and institutional knowledge that comes from their long-term commitment.

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  • Minnesota Northstar Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program Geriatric Education Tookit

    Check out the new Geriatric Education Toolkit that can introduce learners to the structure of Medicare, Medicaid, and Medicare Hospice insurance programs. Created by the Minnesota Northstar Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program, the toolkit includes lectures and a facilitator guide to help learners appreciate the perspectives of patients, providers, and payers receiving CMS services. LEARN MORE>>

  • Earl E. Bakken Food Matters for Health Professionals Course

    The Earl E. Bakken "Food Matters for Health Professionals Continuing Education Course" will be offered in winter (January 30, and Februrary 6 and 13) and spring (April 24, and May 1 and 8). Sessions will be 5:30-8:30 p.m. LEARN MORE>>

Upcoming Events

  • Upcoming Events - November 2023

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    Clinical Translational Science Institute "Creating Research Feasibility Budgets with the Enhanced RPBE Tool and Navigating the Fairview Pricing Request Process" Seminar | Nov. 28

    The RPBE clinical research tool has been enhanced to include subject- and event-level details (with access to M Health Fairview Chargemaster) to improve patient care cost calculations. This Version 2.0 launches in late November. To learn more about the newest version of the tool (and how to use it), sign up for the CTSI CRPD Seminar, "Creating Research Feasibility Budgets with the Enhanced RPBE Tool and Navigating the Fairview Pricing Request Process," on November 28, 10:30-11:30 a.m. LEARN MORE>>

    Global Surgery & Disparity Program Global Health Fair | Nov. 30

    The Global Surgery & Disparity Program Global Health Fair will be on Thursday, November 30, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in HSEC 3-110. Organized by the Global Surgery Student Alliance (GSSA), the Fair will have physicians and researchers from various specialties to talk about their fields, their global health work, and how students can get involved. There will be stations in a "speed-dating" format, so students will have the opportunity to meet multiple physicians in a small group. Dinner will be provided. LEARN MORE>>

    Clinical Translational Science Institute Research in Child Health Dinner Forum | Dec. 6

    The CTSI Research in Child Health Dinner Forum will be held Wednesday, December 6, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the Campus Club, Coffman Memorial Union. This dinner forum will explore priorities and opportunities for research to improve the health of Minnesota's children with keynote speaker Dr. Brooke Cunningham, commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health. LEARN MORE>>