It may sound like a party meant to burn a lot of calories, but the annual Cardio Palooza at the University of Minnesota Medical School is no heart-pounding gym session.

With a focus on cardiovascular science and medicine, this celebration, now in its 11th year, unites hundreds of University-wide faculty, researchers, clinicians, students and others to cross-pollinate on ideas and research that advance heart health discoveries. Since 2009, the event has been led by the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology and the Lillehei Heart Institute in alignment with many other departments, units and schools across campus.

“When I first arrived at the University, I felt that I worked in a very dispersed community of scholars,” said Joseph Metzger, PhD, who leads the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology. “This event began as an opportunity to nucleate our group as one. The University has a number of great, gold-star programs - really notable programs - and trying to align with those programs and their faculty can hopefully get you to a higher level, all to the betterment of the Medical School and the University.”

Since its inception, Metzger says many organic partnerships have formed across the University that have established new research and grant-funded opportunities. The event draws in individuals researching cardio-vascular, cardio-muscle, cardio-metabolism, cardio-engineering and cardio-aging - just to name a few. 

On July 31, Cardio Palooza broke records and brought in more than 200 scholars from throughout the University, including 84 poster presenters and 36 faculty judges. Award winners this year include:

  • Sasha Prisco - Clinical Fellow (Prins Lab); 
  • Laura Hocum Stone - Post-Doc/Scientist (Kelly Lab);
  • Vasanth Ravikumar - Graduate Student (Talkachova Lab);
  • Stephanie Deng - Summer Scholar (Prins Lab);
  • Elizabeth Ener - People's Choice (Kyba Lab).

Although Cardio Palooza was hosted at St. John’s University for the first three years, Metzger says they later brought the event to campus to create better avenues for clinical colleagues to attend while balancing their patient responsibilities. Today, the event has “become part of the fabric of the Medical School.”

“It’s all about the intellectual vibrancy of the community,” Metzger said. “People want to be around dynamic, living, breathing, growing and vibrant programs. This is a point of vibrancy in our community. If you have anything to do with cardiovascular science and medicine, this is where you should be and have a presence.”

Next year’s Cardio Palooza is slated for Wed., July 22, 2020. Click here to learn more and see photos from the event.