Posts Tagged ‘smoking’

Medical Miracles Brewing at the U of M

March 30, 2009

I interviewed four trailblazing researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School for Twin Cities Business magazine. I was stunned to find out that, over the next few years, Alzheimer’s disease and type 1 diabetes may be as scarce as polio, the severe organ donor shortage may be resolved and we might be much closer to being a tobacco-free nation.

All four of these ambitious, audacious initiatives are well under way at the U of M. Here are profiles of Doris TaylorKaren Hsiao Ashe, Meri Firpo and Dorothy Hatsukami.

Medtronic Bakken Professor of Medicine and Integrative Biology/Physiology,
Director of the
Center for Cardiovascular Repair


Doris Taylor

Doris Taylor’s favorite video is The Matrix, a stunning achievement which suggests the possibility of an alternate reality. No, not the film starring Keanu Reeves, but the short movie of a beating heart that was emailed to her at 3 AM by her then-colleague Harald Ott in the spring of 2005. “The sad but true fact was that it was three in the morning but I was in my office,” Taylor recalls. “Harald sent me the video and then called me. I watched the video, called him right back and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ It was a Eureka, fist-in-the-air, yes! moment.”

Why all the fuss? Because that beating rat heart may revolutionize organ transplants and save millions of lives. Through a process called whole-organ decellularization, all the cells were slowly drained from the heart, leaving only the extracellular matrix—the framework between the cells—intact. “You can think of it as a scaffold, a bare wooden frame for a house,” Taylor says.

The heart was repopulated with (more…)

To Smoke or Not to Smoke

November 20, 2008

no-smoking-symbolToday is the Great American Smokeout, an annual event sponsored by the American Cancer Society to encourage smokers to quit for a day in the hop that they quit for good.

Personally, I have zero tolerance for cigarette smoke. It gives me a fierce headache so I avoid it at all costs. But the psychology behind why people smoke fascinates me. I consider it a colossally self-destructive behavior. Not everybody feels that way, of course.


Bill Hicks

Houston comic Bill Hicks, who died of cancer, loved to smoke. “I like to think of my life as a highway flowing through the universe,” he eloquently explained, “and I need the tar to fill the potholes in my soul.”

To smoke or to complain about smoke, that is the question. Smokers and nonsmokers alike are ready to deliver their impassioned views at the drop of a match. Over the years, I’ve collected passages from celebrities who have climbed up on the smoking soapbox to express their love or hatred of cigarettes. They range from arrogant to insightful to hilarious. Overall, they make for a good read


New York author and curmudgeon
From her essay, “When Smoke Gets In Your Eyes … Shut Them”

“Smoking is, if not my life, then at least my ! (more…)