University of Minnesota Foundation

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University of Minnesota

The campaign for Children's Health

Because a life's work can live on and on.

Famous firsts

Medical breakthroughs launched at the University of Minnesota include:

  • The first pediatric open-heart surgeries using hypothermia and cross-circulation.
  • The first successful pediatric bone marrow transplant.
  • The first pediatric kidney biopsy.
  • The first bone marrow transplant to treat a lethal skin disease in children, showing that stem cells contained in bone marrow can repair injured tissue.
  • Development of a trailblazing technique for transplanting kidneys in infants.
  • Development of the high-frequency chest compression system (the "vest") to treat cystic fibrosis.
  • Development of a vaccine for lyme disease.
  • Development of less invasive approaches to pediatric heart repair, including leading-edge trials of the pediatric Berlin Heart device, which helps keep kids’ hearts strong until they can receive a transplant.
  • Pediatric pioneers

    For nearly a century, the exploration of pioneering ideas at the University of Minnesota has launched many medical firsts that have made a lasting difference for families in Minnesota and around the world.

    Kurt Amplatz, M.D., a professor of radiology at the University of Minnesota for 42 years, pioneered the use of many noninvasive techniques, including the use of devices that have eliminated the need for open-heart surgery for thousands of children. University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital is named in honor of Dr. Amplatz as a tribute to his life's work.

    Robert Good, M.D., Ph.D., performed the world's first successful bone marrow transplant, on a 4-month-old boy with an inherited immune deficiency disorder, at the University of Minnesota, in 1968.

    C. Walton Lillehei, M.D., Ph.D., often called the father of open-heart surgery, played a major role in many surgical firsts at the University of Minnesota. His 1950s advances included participating in the first successful open-heart surgery using cross-circulation and creation of the heart-lung machine, and developing the pacemaker and mechanical heart valve.

    Jakub Tolar, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric blood and marrow transplant physician, with colleauges used stem cells from bone marrow to repair the skin of patients with a fatal skin disease called recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB) through a collaborative project.

    John E. Wagner, M.D., an umbilical cord-blood transplant pioneer, uses molecular and cellular therapies to develop new treatment approaches for life-threatening diseases, such as leukemia, for which conventional treatments are unsatisfactory.

    Warren Warwick, M.D., invented a vibrating vest at the University of Minnesota in the early 1980s. The therapy transformed care for children with cystic fibrosis and helped to make our patients’ survival rates the best in the nation.