Minneapolis Medical Breakthroughs

Open-heart surgery. The pacemaker. Anesthesia monitors. These are some of the many breakthroughs that have happened in Minneapolis, and that same creative spark and need to innovate permeate the Minneapolis medical field today.

- 1931: Wangensteen suction tube. Created by Owen H. Wangensteen at the University of Minnesota. The device removes deadly gas and fluid buildup during abdominal surgery.

- 1948: Cortisone. Nobel Prize-winning researchers Edward Dendall and Phillip Hench developed this anti-inflammatory wonder drug that is widely used today.

- 1952: Open-heart surgery. Surgeons C. Walter Lillehei and F. John Lewis performed the first successful open-heart surgery on a 5-year-old girl.

- 1955: Blood pump. Richard DeWall and C. Walter Lillehei made surgery safer with this device that puts oxygen into a patient's blood during open-heart surgery.

- 1955: In-ear hearing aid. Minnesota firm Dahlberg, Inc., was the first firm to market the device.

- 1957: Cardiac pacemaker. Working in his garage, electrical engineer Earl Bakken developed the implantable pacemaker and started the world renowned company today know as Medtronic.

- 1960s: Mechanical heart valve. C. Walter Lillehei helped design two valves that are still in use today.

- 1960s: Anesthesia monitor. Physicist Alfred Nier and others developed this operating room technology.

- 1966-68: Organ transplants.The first pancreas transplant, and the first successful kidney and bone marrow transplants were done at the University of Minnesota.

- 1996: Transgenic mouse. Hoping to give researchers a tool to help understand the development of Alzheimer's disease, neurologist Karen Hsaio Ashe bred a mouse genetically disposed to inherit the disease.

- 1998: Ziagen. Chemist Robert Vance developed the compounds that led to this medication for treating HIV/AIDS.

- 2001: Anthrax test. The Mayo Clinic developed this DNA test, which can detect anthrax in less than an hour.

- 2004: Digital pacemaker. Medtronic introduces world's first digital pacemaker.

- 2008: Whole organ decellularization. Dr. Doris A. Taylor and a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota create a new, beating heart, an astonishing advance in the quest to grow new organs from a patient's own stem cells. Researchers removed all the cells from a dead rat heart, leaving the valves and outer structure as scaffolding for new heart cells injected from newborn rats. The cells formed a new beating heart that conducted electrical impulses and pumped a small amount of blood.


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