veterinarian working with dog

Creative Collaborations Can Address Health’s Grand Challenges

Author
VP Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD
March 24, 2022

We live in the era of big data, when computers have made obtaining and storing massive amounts of information possible. But the true value of that data lies not in just the data itself, but in the answers it can give if we ask the right questions. The Institute for Health Informatics (IHI) focuses on the design, use, and evaluation of information systems that support and improve health care while protecting patient safety and confidentiality. By nature, it is an interdisciplinary endeavor.
 
IHI excels at developing strong interprofessional research teams that engage biomedical and health informatics to strengthen the future of health and health care. They do so by building and supporting teams of professionals with expertise in dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, veterinary medicine, library science, computer science, and management sciences.

 
A great example is their collaboration with the Masonic Cancer Center (MCC) and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). Dr. Aaron Sarver and Dr. Jaime Modiano came together to look at cancer risk in both humans and dogs. The two first met in 2008 after Dr. Modiano joined CVM and suggested using a genomic comparative oncology approach to understand why some breeds of dog have increased cancer incidence. “It was a natural fit,” said Dr. Sarver who had just joined MCC and was looking to study the molecular base of cancer using modern genomics techniques. Since then, they have published 18 papers together and continue to approach unanswered health questions with their combined expertise. The team attributes their success to being able to look at a problem from different angles.


Through collaborative practice, IHI uses a unique approach to apply information technology to develop and implement new and better ways to support clinical research, demonstrating that team science can address health’s grand challenges. There are many collaborations happening across the University. We’d love to hear about yours.

Driving Innovation & Discovery

Blue web brain

Brain Studies Show Thousands of Participants are Needed for Accurate Results

New research published March 16, 2022 in Nature from the U of M and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is highlighting a path forward for brain imaging use in diagnostics, prognostics, and treatment response in psychiatric, psychological, and neurological conditions. The research shows that most published brain-wide association studies are performed with too few participants to yield reliable findings. “For decades we’ve been highlighting the potential for MRI to assist in the clinical care for mental health disorders and neurologic conditions. However, the full potential has not been realized,” said Damien Fair, PA-C, PhD, senior author and Redleaf Endowed Director for MIDB. “We now know our missteps and are redefining the required parameters, the so-called ‘special sauce,’ to move forward effectively.”

islet cells

New Method of Pancreatic Islet Cryopreservation Marks Breakthrough for Diabetes Cure

Engineering and medical researchers at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and Mayo Clinic have developed a new process for successfully storing specialized pancreatic islet cells at very low temperatures and rewarming them, enabling the potential for on-demand islet transplantation. The breakthrough discovery in cryopreservation is a major step forward in a cure for diabetes. The study was led by John Bischof, PhD, a mechanical engineering Distinguished McKnight University Professor and director of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine, and Erik Finger, MD, PhD, associate professor of surgery in the Medical School, M Health Fairview. The research is published in Nature Medicine.

2022 IEM Innovation Week

2022 IEM Innovation Week

IEM Innovation Week (April 11-15) will highlight events that focus on advances and new directions in medical engineering. Engineering to fight cancer, neurological disorders, failing organs, and many other ailments—and it’s all at the University of Minnesota!
 
 

Advancing Interprofessional Education & Training

Elizabeth Johnson & Poornima Vasireddy

OACA Interprofessional Highlight: National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education

Elizabeth Johnson, BA, AA, from the College of Pharmacy and Poornima Vasireddy, MS, BDS, NTR, from the School of Dentistry are working with the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education to support the advancement of two strategic imperatives: addressing racism within health care teams and engaging individuals, families and communities in the Nexus Summit. The team is working to develop and refine the patient, family and community curated resource collection, curate a special collection focused on aspects of racism and caste within health care teams, and develop practical tools and resources to promote awareness and engagement of key topics, issues and opportunities.

Cameron Grund

Students: What Do You Enjoy Most About Interprofessional Activities?

“What I enjoy most about interprofessional activities is gaining a deeper understanding of who all of us as students are and how we can have more constructive collaboration as future health professionals. We owe it to ourselves, our future patients, and for our planet to work together in the most efficient way possible. Interprofessional activities have enhanced my nursing education by understanding more of the resources available to my patients through an interprofessional lens. We, future health professionals, are so full of knowledge! In addition, it has given me great mentorships and friendships with those who are also interested in improving health care.” - Cameron Grund, Nursing

Students working with simulations

M Simulation, School of Dentistry Partner to Provide Medical Emergency Training to International Cohort of Students

M Simulation recently hosted 11 dental students from Heidelberg University and delivered a simulated training experience on managing medical emergencies. The German cohort of students visited the University of Minnesota as part of the School of Dentistry’s exchange program which launched virtually earlier this year and expanded to include in-person experiences this spring. The experience, Mock Medical Emergencies, is designed to train advanced dental students on how to handle potential medical emergencies in the dental clinic.

Partnering with Communities

Map of Europe and Top of Africa

The Brocher Declaration: The Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility Creates a Guide for Ethical Global Health Engagement

The Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility (CGHSR) sits in a unique place at the University, as a collaborator with health sciences schools and beyond, CGHSR aims to bring forth the ethos of appropriate engagement in global health. Shailey Prasad, MD, MPH, director for CGHSR, helped create the Brocher Declaration, six main principles to guide ethical, sustainable, and practical engagements in global health.

U-Wide Events and Opportunities 

Circle window with land in it

Global Health Seed Grants – Request for Proposals
 
Every spring, the Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility (CGHSR) requests proposals for annual awards up to $25,000 to catalyze innovative global health research projects. The Global Health Seed Grant program fosters new interdisciplinary collaborations to advance global health research. CGHSR prioritizes projects that advance new research opportunities, particularly those based in Africa, Asia, and Latin America/Caribbean. Seed grants are available to lecturers, instructors and assistant, associate, and full professors at the University of Minnesota from within and beyond the health sciences. Submit a letter of intent by April 29.

East bank bridge facing art center

Student Impact Awards

Do you know an undergrad, grad, or student group on any U of M campus who has made significant contributions to creating a more sustainable future? The UMN Institute on the Environment (IonE) and the Office of Sustainability invite nominations for the inaugural Student Impact Awards. Nominate by March 28. Individual student awards are $250 and selected groups will win a $1000 grant.

Other News

graph and data over a computer
The common thread with all Institute for Health Informatics projects is the goal to improve the health of individuals and communities.
pharmacist reviewing medications with a patient
Grant addresses transition of care for patients from the hospital to community setting.