The Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the University of Minnesota Medical School is committed to bringing leading-edge basic and applied research and innovation to patient care.

The research-intensive faculty within the department have several major focus areas including cancer, immunology, cardiovascular disease, renal disease, diabetes, and genetics. The faculty consist of tenured associate and full professors, several of which currently hold endowed chairs or professorships. They interface with University of Minnesota departments and centers such as the Center for Immunology, Masonic Cancer Center, and the Institute for Translational Neuroscience.

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News

Pediatrics honors Ferrieri

Pat Ferrieri was awarded the Gold-Headed Cane at Pediatric Grand Rounds Oct 31 in the Wilf Auditorium. This award honors life-long service to children. She was joined by earlier awardees.

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Education

Powell receives Distinguished Pathologist Award

Deborah PowellDebbie Powell received the Distinguished Pathologist Award for her outstanding contributions to the Twin Cities’ pathology community at the annual E.T. Bell symposium in October.  Debbie has spent her entire career dedicated to outstanding laboratory medicine and pathology training and medical education. 

Research Spotlight

Balfour’s EBV vaccine highlighted in Nature

In a feature article entitled “Building a better lymphoma vaccine” published in Nature last month, Claire Ainsworth observes that researchers are closing in on vaccines to prevent or treat lymphomas and other cancers triggered by the Epstein–Barr virus (EBV).  Henry BalfourHank Balfour and his team are highlighted in the piece, beginning with the year-long study they conducted of University class of 2016 freshmen “to examine in detail the effect of infectious mononucleosis…on students who had not encountered it before, and to inform the design of a vaccine against it.”

Balfour’s work has revealed that mononucleosis is a more debilitating and economically costly disease than is commonly thought, Ainsworth writes.  EBV, its causative agent, is also associated with risk for developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder, and other malignancies, some 200,000 new cases each year.  Although a vaccine to prevent EBV amounting to infection has been in the works for years, “problems such as a lack of suitable animal models and gaps in the understanding of EBV biology…have slowed the impetus to develop it further.”  But the tide is turning, due in part to mounting evidence that EBV is also implicated in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

As described by Ainsworth, Balfour’s is one of at least two major EBV development efforts currently underway that targets gp350, a subunit of a specific EBV glycoprotein, as a strategy to prevent EBV infection.  Other efforts are focused on the development of conventional protein-based therapeutic vaccines as well as therapeutic vaccines based on the new adoptive T-cell immunotherapies.   Meanwhile, Ainsworth writes, Balfour has set up the U of M Mono Project to drive research and raise awareness of EBV, in Balfour’s words “a nasty virus” and not at all, as was once thought, a passing infection with few if any long-term consequences.