Outstanding Service to the Community

Last week, Anna Wirta Kosobuski, EdD, a member of the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth campus, received the President’s Outstanding Service Award. This is a high honor and a great opportunity for the full University to see the impact of our faculty. Dr. Wirta Kosobuski has been working with two communities in the Duluth area, the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa (Nett Lake) and the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Grand Portage) as part of her Regenerative Medicine Minnesota Education Program. In her program, she brings communities together with educational professionals to design a curriculum and identify resources for science education in their elementary schools. This has resulted in school programming, activity books, and summer programs to encourage students’ interest in science or healthcare careers.

Dr. Wirta Kosobuski’s work is tightly tied to our Duluth campus’ mission to be a leader in educating physicians dedicated to family medicine and to serve the needs of rural Minnesota and Native American communities. It is one thing, as a land-grant university, to serve our communities. It is another thing to truly work within our communities, and that is what she has accomplished with what promises to be long-term impact.

The Duluth campus has the highest Native American faculty/staff-to-student ratio of any campus in the U.S., is second in the nation in the number of Native American physician graduates, and third in primary care training and rural medicine. An incredible 44 percent of their alumni are now practicing in small communities.

All this dovetails into the Medical Discovery Team (MDT) on Rural and American Indian Health at our Duluth campus. The MDTs are a partnership with the state of Minnesota designed to address critical health needs for our communities. Led by J. Neil Henderson, PhD, and called the Memory Keepers MDT, this team works collaboratively with the community to co-develop a better way towards health, particularly by researching the interaction between vascular dementia and diabetes in tribal communities, and in developing ways to reduce health disparities in people who live far from the medical resources available in the cities.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Wirta Kosobuski on this well-deserved honor and the Duluth campus on their continued efforts to forward and strengthen the mission of our Medical School.