University of Minnesota Physicians Featured in Thinking Big in Minnesota

In the past year and a half with COVID-19 spreading internationally, everyone has faced new challenges and experiences in their everyday lives. The resilience and adaptations displayed by people throughout the world to cope with this additional strain and hardship have been remarkable, showing that as a whole, we can accomplish just about anything when we work together towards a common goal. In an article written by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, the authors highlighted a wide array of inventions, positive deeds, and thoughtful adaptations that arose as people coped with the changing world around them.

Featured in this article as Big Idea Number 4, doctors Gwenyth Fischer, MD, Associate Chair for Research and Assistant Professor in the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, and Kumar Belani, MD, Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, devised a ventilator box that is placed over a COVID patient’s head. With ports for doctor’s hands and airflow, this device protects physicians from COVID while freeing up HEPA filtered negative-pressure rooms for sicker patients. 

Big Idea number 33 featured Damien Fair, PA-C, PhD, Professor in the Division of Clinical Behavioral Neuroscience, and his use of a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine to noninvasively study the developing human brain. An fMRI machine uses changes in blood flow as neurons fire to look at active brain activity instead of just the brain structures. Dr. Fair recently came back to Minnesota to act as coordinator for the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain and receiving the MacArthur Genius Grant. The grant is being put to use to utilize fMRI machines to study the characteristics and inner workings of developmental brain abnormalities. The uniqueness and individuality of everyone’s brains is just starting to be discovered and Dr. Fair hopes to use this research to better understand and treat neurodevelopmental disorders in a more individualized manner. To read the full article and more of the Big Ideas that came from the past year, follow this link.