Pursuing Excellence

This week is the 50th Anniversary of the world’s first successful bone marrow transplant (BMT) from a matched related donor, which was performed here at the University of Minnesota by Dr. Robert Good and his team. This led to an entirely new field of cancer treatment made possible by advances in immunology and the resulting development of the National Marrow Donor Program (now Be The Match) unrelated donor registry.

Dr. Good had the ability to combine solid science with connective leaps. His identification of the role of the thymus in immunity, combined with observation of the impact of mixed lymphocyte culture matching on the survival of skin grafts, led to the hypothesis that histocompatibility was the key to identifying a compatible sibling bone marrow donor. His brilliance as a scientist was matched by his compassion for his patients and a desire to make a difference in their lives.

Since we are celebrating the 130th Anniversary of the Medical School this year, it gives us a good reason to look back through our departmental, center, and institute histories and note the outstanding accomplishments and think about celebrating the associated anniversaries. I would encourage everyone to let Medical School Communications know about these so we can weave them into our identity.

In honor of the legacy and future of our innovative BMT program, the state of Minnesota has declared Friday, August 24, 2018 as University of Minnesota Blood and Marrow Transplant Day. Our researchers, physicians, staff and patients will be celebrating at the Minnesota State Fair that evening.

Anniversaries of great events aren’t just an excuse for cake and a party, they are part of the living history of this institution that we should be transmitting to our students, our faculty, and our staff. We have every reason to be proud of the accomplishments of this University and Medical School. Holding ourselves to the high standards of the past can be inspiration for excellence in the future.

Congratulations to the Blood and Marrow Transplantation divisions on this important anniversary, and I look forward to celebrating many more of our accomplishments in the days and years to come.