Carleton College Wins Gold IMPACT Award

Aug 17, 2014 | Suzanne Ferguson | @suzannerferguson

In the spring of 2014, Mayo Clinic launched the “Innovative Minds Partnering to Advance Cardiac Theranostics (IMPACT)” initiative. Inspired by competitions that engage students in addressing real-world problems, this initiative asked undergraduate students to hypothesize the underlying cause of HLHS.

The IMPACT program reached out to several local Minnesota institutions: St. Olaf College, Carleton College, and the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University. In less than three months, a total of 52 undergraduate students (12 multidisciplinary teams) submitted their underlying cause for HLHS hypotheses. From these submissions, the top eight teams were invited to Mayo Clinic to present their ideas at the IMPACT Scholars Awards Day held on May 12, 2014.

A Carleton College team received the gold award for its IMPACT hypothesis, along with $1,000 per student and the chance to pursue an active collaboration with researchers at the Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) at Mayo Clinic.

Two teams from St. Olaf College took home silver awards while the bronze award went to the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University. Each winning team was recognized with a plaque to be displayed at their institution. At Mayo Clinic, the Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) is working to find and apply curative solutions for children born with HLHS. The program recognizes the need for creativity and innovation to delay or prevent heart transplants in HLHS patients. Plans to launch a second IMPACT initiative involving more institutions are underway. By engaging undergraduate students with a spirit for innovation, this initiative will continue to forge partnerships toward the common goal of advancing the health and well-being of HLHS patients.

For more information on the IMPACT program or how you can participate, please contact Katie Hartjes, IMPACT Coordinator, at Also, be sure to check out the article on the Carlton College Biology Department homepage.


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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