Congratulations to the 2017 IMPACT Winners!

Apr 17, 2017 | Suzanne Ferguson | @suzannerferguson

On March 18, the Innovative Minds Partnering to Advance Curative Therapies (IMPACT) program engaged over 200 undergraduate students from 23 different Minnesota colleges. IMPACT is a competitive program open to Minnesota undergraduate students that encourages them to submit hypotheses for different challenges. It is sponsored by Regenerative Medicine Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic Office of Applied Scholarship and Education Science.

This year, teams of students chose one of three challenge topics to answer:

  • What is the underlying cause of hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS)?
  • How do obesity and type 2 diabetes increase the risk of pancreatic cancer?
  • What pedagogical approach should be used in surgical residency programs to improve patient outcomes after inguinal hernia repair?

One winning team from each category was chosen after a day of poster and oral presentations.


Congratulations to Brian Nguyen, Achai Biong, Vivian Ma, and Kurt Schwieters (University of Minnesota, Rochester) for their winning hypothesis of the HLHS challenge topic. Their hypothesis states, “We hypothesize that intrauterine hypoxia induces the overexpression of microRNA-210, leading to the suppression of Nkx2.5 and fetal cardiac underdevelopment of the left ventricle, resulting in hypoplastic left heart syndrome.”

The winning team members will receive $1,000 along with the opportunity to conduct their research at Mayo Clinic for the summer. Congratulations to the first place winners!

IMPACT was launched in the spring of 2014 and has continued to expand each year, reaching over 500 Minnesota undergraduates to date. By engaging undergraduate students with a spirit for innovation, this initiative will continue to forge collaborations toward the common goal of advancing the health and well-being of patients. For more information on the IMPACT program or how you can participate, please contact Katie Campbell, IMPACT Program Director, at 507-284-0820 or email her at


The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) is a collaborative network of specialists bonded by the vision of delaying or preventing heart failure for individuals affected by congenital heart defects including HLHS. The specialized team is addressing the various aspects of these defects by using research and clinical strategies ranging from basic science to diagnostic imaging to regenerative therapies.






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