Medical memories, from organs to mitochondria

Class of 1964, photo by Stephanie Dunn

A plethora of old and new memories were shared by the spirited assembly awaiting breakfast in the Ski-U-Mah room, deep within the walls of the McNamara Alumni Center. It was September 19, 2014, and the graduates of the University of Minnesota Medical School, Class of 1964, were enjoying their fiftieth reunion. Breakfast with the Dean was next on the agenda. The Alumni Center was built to remember and encourage alumni who called the University of Minnesota their treasured source of postsecondary and professional education. The unusual name of this pleasant chamber originated from a slogan launched at the University in 1894.

History indicates Sioux Indians yelled Ski-yoo when they bested opponents in canoe races on that broad expanse of the Mississippi River known as Lake Pepin. A University of Minnesota Rugby player, the captain of the team John Adams, suggested it for the team of 1894 and the co-captain added mah to rhyme with rah creating Ski-U-Mah. Research indicates perhaps the Sioux words and the interpretation were improperly translated, but apparently the meaning is less important than the enthusiasm of the shout.

The company in this room was no less enthusiastic in 1960, when they received their acceptance telegrams (the method of notification at that time), indicating one of the coveted positions at the University of Minnesota Medical School was reserved for them. It meant they were to be a member of the graduating class of 1964. For fifty years, this group enjoyed the privilege and profound responsibility of calling themselves Doctors of Medicine. A ceremony called commencement, a new beginning was celebrated, and the new graduates continued their quest to learn and understand the awesome wonders of medicine. The new doctors, barely had time to enjoy the moment before the next phase of training began on July first. The diaspora of graduates began as they accepted positions as interns (internships were the next step in those days) in the hospitals and clinics of this country.

Wall of Scholarship honors high-impact research

Photo by Rich Ryan

Since becoming dean of the Medical School and vice president for health sciences earlier this year, Brooks Jackson, M.D., M.B.A., has kept a laser focus on supporting the outstanding scholarship of our faculty, staff, and students. Now, his passion for uncovering and disseminating new knowledge, and promoting excellence, has a new face: the Wall of Scholarship.

Unveiled in the 2nd floor corridor of the Phillips-Wangensteen Building, this display honors 26 highly impactful papers from our Medical School faculty. The featured papers are beautifully etched reproductions of the papers’ first page, with a plaque naming the honored faculty member and their department below.

A reception to acknowledge the 23 inaugural Wall of Scholarship honorees was held on Wednesday, October 23, 2014, at 5:00 p.m. in front of the Wall. Key University leadership assisted in celebrating the launch of this new monument and offered remarks on the auspicious occasion. President Eric Kaler, Ph.D., Provost Karen Hanson, Ph.D., Vice President for Research Brian Herman, Ph.D., and Dean Jackson all shared thoughts on the significance of the Wall and the important role that the Medical School plays within the University before calling the names of the honorees and giving each researcher a commemorative plaque.

“I prefer to see this as a window into where we’re headed as a Top Ten nationally recognized Medical School and Academic Health Center,” said President Kaler in his remarks. “As Dr. Jackson has said, great scholarship boosts our reputation, our ability to attract funding, and, most importantly, our contributions to tackling the grand health challenges of our patients and the state of Minnesota.”

Peter Igarashi, M.D., named Head of the Department of Medicine

Photo courtesy of Peter Igarashi

A long-awaited search for the next Head of the Department of Medicine is over, and we are pleased to announce that Peter Igarashi, M.D., will serve as the next Nesbitt Chair and Head of the Department of Medicine, starting on December 31, 2014.

Dr. Igarashi comes from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where he currently holds the Robert Tucker Hayes Distinguished Chair in Nephrology, in honor of Dr. Floyd C. Rector, Jr.; is a professor of internal medicine and pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Nephrology at UT Southwestern Medical Center; and directs the UT Southwestern O’Brien Kidney Research Core Center.

2014 National Bike Challenge Winners

Photo courtesy of Lucas Boyle

After five months of daily commuting and weekend riding, 33 members of our Medical School community have taken the top spot on the leaderboard for the 2014 National Bike Challenge in the colleges and universities category. The ridersa combination of first, second, and third year medical students as well as a few faculty memberslogged a total of 19,347 miles biked between May 1 and September 30. The Medical School’s team led the pack each month of the Challenge, maintaining its spot at the top throughout the summer and fall.

The National Bike Challenge is an annual cycling competition that is open and free to all individuals, teams, businesses, and schools across the country. The Challenge officially runs between May 1 and September 30, but the Challenge website allows people to join at any time and record their riding outside of these dates as well. Balvindar Singh, a third year Medical School student, began logging his riding at the beginning of the Challenge in May. Singh was the Medical School’s highest scoring rider, with over 4,300 miles recorded during the Challenge.

“I commute year-round via bike and also use cycling as my primary means of exercise,” Singh said. “I decided it would be a good way to participate in an activity with classmates beyond academics, as well as a motivator to ride.”

Alumni lead nation in Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars

Three Medical School alumni have been selected for the distinguished and highly competitive Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars (RWJF) program. The scholars include Nicole Gergen, M.D., Tyler Winkelman, M.D., and Manik Chhabra, M.D. -- all 2014 graduates of our Medical School. This number marks the highest from any medical school, among the 31 selected for the program.

Pui-Ying Iroh Tam, M.D., awarded Ralph D. Feigin apprenticeship

Photo courtesy of Pui-Ying Iroh Tam

Faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics' Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Pui-Ying Iroh Tam, M.D., has received the highly prestigious Ralph D. Feigin apprenticeship from the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (JPIDS).

The Ralph D. Feigin apprenticeship award celebrates contributions in the pediatrics field.