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Works Progress' "Water Bar" at Crystal Bridges Museum

The Minneapolis-based Works Progress, comprised of Colin Kloecker and Shanai Matteson, is part of the State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AK. Just inside the museum’s lobby is Kloecker and Matteson’s project Water Bar.
A partnership between Works Progress and the museum, as well as scientific researchers, environmental advocates, public employees, educators and local residents, Water Bar is an interactive installation that invites visitors to sample and compare water from three local sources: Beaver Lake (Bentonville), the Illinois River (Siloam Springs), and an artesian well in Sulphur Springs.
Representatives from the Illinois River Watershed Partnership and local educational institutions are staffing the bar. In addition to serving water, they engage visitors in conversations about drinking water, where it comes from and how to protect it.
The exhibition, with Water Bar, is on view until January 19, 2015. Works Progress is also participating in a State of the Art Symposium on November 14-15 to talk about how they engage artists, designers, organizers and creative professionals to realize public art rooted in place and purpose.
“Works Progress uses place, design and the shared experience of drinking water to focus our attention on local water sources,” says Chad Alligood, curator, Crystal Bridges. “The collaboration with Works Progress and the Illinois River Watershed Partnership represents a convergence of art and advocacy that engages the community in conversations about an issue that affects all of us.”
Matteson adds that, “We hope to install a local version of the Water Bar project in 2015 that will highlight Minnesota's water resources, and are currently seeking collaborators and support.”

Target gets buzz for its unique Simplicity Challenge contest

As the popularity of the Minnesota Cup demonstrates, innovation challenges are becoming a definite trend, and now Target is getting into the mix.
As reported by MedCity News and other news outlets, the company recently announced two contests aimed at boosting innovation in healthcare.
The Target Simplicity Challenge will reward the creators of the winning ideas $25,000 apiece, and offer them the chance to partner with Target on developing the concepts. One contest will focus on solutions that help people make positive lifestyle and preventative care choices, while the other will focus on helping people live well with chronic conditions.
MedCity News notes that Target wants small, simple ideas that can substantively solve problems outlined in the contest. The company announced the challenges at the Mayo Clinic Transform Symposium

Five Minnesota hospitals rank high on national list

U.S. News & World Report recently released it annual Best Hospitals list, and five Minnesota hospitals were ranked high in terms of performance.
Coming in at no. 3 in the ranking, Rochester-based Mayo Clinic was highlighted in numerous categories, nabbing the "best" designation for specialties like endocrinology, gastroenterology, gynecology, and diabetes care.
The other four hospitals that made the list are Allina Abbott Northwestern Hospital, the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Allina Mercy Hospital, and St. John's Hospital.
The magazine sorted data for nearly 5,000 U.S. hospitals, looking at factors like patient safety, hospital reputation, and death rates. Only 147 hospitals were nationally ranked.

Minnesota leads the Midwest in funding for health care startups

Midwest health care companies attracted $810 million in new investment, and Minnesota led the way, according to the BioEnterprise Midwest Health Care Venture Investment Report.
The report noted that Minnesota attracted $223 million in investments, followed by Ohio with $178 million and Missouri with $169 million. Tracking deals for 11 states and western Pennsylvania, BioEnterprise looked at investments in fields like health care services, biopharmaceuticals, and medical device manufacturing.
The state's largest deal last year was Entellus Medical, which raised $35 million to develop technology related to sinusitis.

Wisconsin newspaper highlights CaringBridge site

Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune recently highlighted the benefits of CaringBridge, a free website based in Eagan that allows families to keep journals online about themselves or loved ones who are going through treatment for serious illnesses.
The newspaper spotlighted the story of a Milwaukee family that used the site to keep friends and family updated on care for a baby born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The child's mother noted that she used CaringBridge to give hourly updates during surgeries, to avoid multiple phone calls during an already stressful time.
CaringBridge was founded in 1997 after a close friend of the founder, Sona Mehring, developed a life-threatening pregnancy. Mehring created the website to help the family communicate news without disturbing the mother or hospital staff members. Currently, more than half a million people use the site every day.

Twin Cities among most active, says Men�s Health

Minneapolis and St. Paul each earned high marks in a ranking put together by Men's Health magazine.
The publication looked at factors that led to sedentary or active lifestyles, such as the percentage of households that watch more than 15 hours of cable a week, and the rate of deaths from deep-vein thrombosis, a condition linked to excessive periods of sitting.
Minneapolis came in at number 10 on the list, and St. Paul was number 13, earning both an "A-" grade. Seattle was deemed the most active, while Lexington, Ky. was named American's Most Sedentary City.

UK newspaper reports on University of Minnesota food research

The Telegraph, a newspaper in the United Kingdom, highlighted research done at the University of Minnesota on bisin, a substance that shows promise as a food preservative.
The story noted that microbiologists at the U of M discovered bisin by accident when studying organisms that populate the human gut. Bisin is able to kill bacteria that trigger decomposition in the fresh proteins found in meat, dairy, eggs, and fish—although it doesn’t work on fresh vegetables or fruit.
It can also prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria like E.coli, salmonella, and listeria.
If the substance lives up to its promise, it could be the "Holy Grail” of the food industry, The Telegraph posited, although skeptics--like Rose Prince, the columnist doing the reporting--may need a bit more convincing.

Biothera's research featured in the journal Nature

Local biotech company Biothera has been featured in the cover story of the journal Nature for their work with beta glucans, "immunomodulating compounds [that] prime the innate immune system to protect the body," according to language in a press release about the publication.

The full text of the article is available for $32, but the article--titled Activation of the innate immune receptor Dectin-1 upon formation of a 'phagocytic synapse'--is not light reading.

Eagan-based Biothera is a pioneer in beta glucans research. Its Pharmaceutical Group is developing an immunomodulating drug that mobilizes the innate immune system to fight most types of cancer, states the release, and its Healthcare Group is a leading provider of natural immune health ingredients for nutrition markets.

Area hospitals make it onto Thomson Reuters top 100 list

Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis is singled out in a yearly analysis by Thomson Reuters as one of the top 10 health systems in the country, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports.

The study, which has been done every year since 1993, hones in on 2,914 short-term acute-care, non-federal hospitals, using public information, according to the Business Journal.

"These award-winning facilities demonstrate that high-quality patient outcomes can be achieved while improving efficiency," the Thomson Reuters website states.

Several other Minnesota hospitals are recognized on the list, which breaks down the data into various categories. Included are the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, the Mayo Foundation, and Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, the Business Journal states.

Two Minnesota companies rate in FastCo's most innovative lists

Two Minnesota companies landed on Fast Company's most innovative companies lists in March.

White Bear Lake-based Envoy Medical ranked number seven of the 10 most innovative medical companies. In a March 14 post by Ellen McGirt and Chuck Salter, Envoy is recognized for "creating the first FDA-approved surgically implanted hearing system to address hearing loss caused by aging, noise and viral infections."

And in the food category, Cargill was ranked number four "for charging into the sweetener market with a plant-based product that's aims to be eco-aware and health-friendly."

None of the 50 most innovative companies in the main list hails from Minnesota.

Kips Bay Medical raises $16.5 million with initial public offering

Plymouth-based Kips Bay Medical Inc. raised $16.5 million in its initial public offering on Feb. 18, according to an Associated Press report in Bloomberg.

That amount is lower than the $21.2 million originally expected--and far lower than expectations of $57.5 million announced in April 2010, writes Dan Haugen in a Feb. 4 MedCity News article.

The company's product, eSVS Mesh, is used to reinforce leg veins during coronary artery bypass surgery.

Saudi newspaper covers visit to Riyadh by Minnesota bioscience companies

An English-language daily newspaper in Saudi Arabia covered a visit to Riyadh by a group of Minnesota bioscience companies earlier this month.

The Arab News report mentions a handful of Minnesota companies, including Exsulin, ODIN Industries, and Ativa, as well the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, which organized the trip.

Exsulin CEO Lisa Jansa explained how the company's diabetes treatment could help Saudi Arabia, which has the third highest rate of diabetes in the world.

"We are seeking support from Saudi Arabia to ensure that more and more people will benefit from this groundbreaking new therapy," Jansa said.

The article concludes:

"All these companies hail from the US state of Minnesota, whose economy has transformed in the last 200 years to emphasize finished products and services. The economy of Minnesota had a gross domestic product of $262 billion in 2009."

Need less stress? Head to the Twin Cities

The Twin Cities is the country's most "type B" metro area, according to Forbes Magazine, which recently put out a list of the top 40 relaxed U.S. cities based on six metrics that relate to stress. 

Synthesizing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the magazine examined cities based on how painful the morning rush hour can be, the average number of hours that people log in at work and unemployment rates. It also looked for reports of recent exercise, access to health care and medical coverage and people's general wellbeing.

Minneapolitans and St. Paulites fared well in each category.

Kathleen Grace Santor M.Ed., Ed.S., a therapist and founder of the Stress Management Center of Nevada, is quoted in the piece, saying, "Bringing the rest of the country's stress level down to that of these calm cities starts with making stress-reduction techniques an everyday practice, rather than an obscure fad."

Medtronic VP makes the case for medical devices as innovation

Medical devices and diagnostics companies have historically been "the Rodney Dangerfields" of the life science industry, never getting the same respect and buzz as their biotech and pharmaceutical cousins, niche pub Life Science Leader writes in its November issue.

New innovations in software and nanotechnology may be changing that perception, though, according to Medtronic's senior vice president for medicine and technology, Stephen Oesterle. In a Q&A with the magazine, Oesterle explains the shift in thinking he's observing:

"I believe many people previously viewed medical devices as appliances, not innovative medical products. I think the notion that devices are not innovative is beginning to change. This is because devices offer a unique opportunity to incorporate nanotechnology, information technology, biotechnology, or the controlled delivery of drugs and biologics into a single product. People are beginning to realize this, and that is why interest in devices has exploded in recent years. Good examples of innovation taking place in the devices industry include targeted, controlled delivery of monoclonal antibodies and stem cells, MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) implants, and drug-coated stents."

Read the full Q&A over at Life Science Leader.

St. Paul prof wins genius grant for research into bee die-off

University of Minnesota professor Marla Spivak has won a MacArthur genius grant for her research into the health of bees. The Wall Street Journal featured her in an article about this year's winners:

"'It just blew me away,' said Marla Spivak, a 55-year-old professor of apiculture at the University of Minnesota. 'I thought they might have the wrong person.' She won the grant for breeding honey bees that can restore health to beehives stricken with pests or pathogens, which in recent years have devastated U.S. bee colonies. She plans to use the grant to launch new bee-related projects. ...

"'Creativity is at the heart of this' fellowship program, said Robert Gallucci, president of the MacArthur Foundation. 'The most vexing problems are not going to be addressed without creativity.'"

Earlier this month, Spivak's latest article on bees was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Here is an excerpt from her highly readable article:

"Colony collapse disorder, the name for the syndrome causing honey bees (Apis mellifera) to suddenly and mysteriously disappear from their hives�thousands of individual worker bees literally flying off to die�captured public consciousness when it was first named in 2007. Since then, the story of vanishing honey bees has become ubiquitous in popular consciousness�driving everything from ice cream marketing campaigns to plots for The Simpsons. The untold story is that these hive losses are simply a capstone to more than a half-century of more prosaic day-to-day losses that beekeepers already faced from parasites, diseases, poor nutrition, and pesticide poisoning.

"The larger story still is that while honey bees are charismatic and important to agriculture, other important bees are also suffering, and in some cases their fates are far worse. These other bees are a subset of the roughly 4000 species of wild bumble bees (Bombus), leafcutter bees (Megachile), and others that are native to North America. While the honey bee was originally imported from Europe by colonists in the early 17th century, it is these native bees that have evolved with our local ecosystems, and, along with honey bees, are valuable crop pollinators.

"People want to know why bees are dying and how to help them. This concern provides a good opportunity to more closely examine pollinators and our dependence upon them. Bees are reaching their tipping point because they are expected to perform in an increasingly inhospitable world. ...

"But there is no reason to wait for research and policy to mitigate the plight of the bees. Individuals can modify their immediate landscapes to make them healthier for bees, whether that landscape is a public rangeland in Wyoming or a flower box in Brooklyn."

Read the full articles in The Wall Street Journal and Environmental Science and Technology.
28 Life Sciences Articles | Page: | Show All
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