Coolest Science Stories of 2015

From bananas to brains, nanotechnology to stem cells, U-M medical researchers made incredible discoveries

Coolest Stories 2Lots of amazing medical care, and testing of new treatments and diagnostic tools, happens every day at our hospitals and clinics.

Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, our medical scientists quietly work on the research that could make life better for patients and their care teams tomorrow. In fact, some of those U-M scientists are also U-M doctors who treat patients — so they especially know what needs to improve.

This kind of “basic science”, as it’s called, has to happen in order for health care to move forward.

As 2015 ends, here’s a roundup of some of the most amazing discoveries and developments that came out of our Medical School’s labs this past year.

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Great science stems from stem cells

U-M researchers study a wide range of diseases using power of cells that can become anything


Imagine a cell with the power to become anything – a heart cell, a brain cell, a skin cell, a bone cell. That’s what scientists call a stem cell.

Today, on Stem Cell Awareness Day, we’ve pulled together a collection of links to showcase how University of Michigan scientists have harnessed the power of these cells to do amazing research of their own, on a wide range of diseases.

Stem cells can help scientists understand how different diseases arise, and how they develop and cause symptoms.

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Out of tragedy, hope

Medical student scholarship in honor of Paul DeWolf gets its first recipient, and continues to raise funds for future students

DeWolf_P blogOn a hot July day in 2013, the world changed forever for the DeWolf family of Schoolcraft, Michigan.

The police came to the house to tell them their son Paul, one of the most promising members of his U-M Medical School class, had been found dead in his off-campus medical fraternity.

The senseless tragedy of Paul DeWolf’s shooting, which happened during a robbery gone wrong, rocked Thom and Kristine’s world, and that of Paul’s siblings Joshua and Rebekah. It also shook the Medical School community to the core.

But then something remarkable happened.

The DeWolfs, and Paul’s classmates, professors and friends, decided they wouldn’t let his death be in vain. Though nothing could bring him back, his loss would be the spark for a new scholarship that would let other promising future doctors attend U-M.

Donations started to pour in, from all over the state and nation, to honor Paul. In amounts small and large, people gave so that other medical students could carry on where he could not.

In less than a year, they raised enough money to create the Paul DeWolf Memorial Scholarship, and ensure it will last for generations to come.

This August, the first recipient of that scholarship — James Mossner of Frankenmuth, Mich. – donned the short white coat with a maize block M, the uniform of a U-M medical student. Today, he spoke to Medical School alumni at their reunion about what this honor means to him.

Before he spoke, this video played:

Mossner’s partial scholarship will mean he will graduate with less debt, which can make a difference in a medical student’s career path.

Thom, Kristineand Rebekah DeWolf, with scholarship recipient Jim Mossner, at the Medical School tree planted in Paul DeWolf's memory

Thom, Kristine and Rebekah DeWolf, with scholarship recipient Jim Mossner, at the Medical School tree planted in Paul DeWolf’s memory

Once enough dollars are raised, students selected for the DeWolf Scholarship could someday attend medical school for free.

That’s the vision the DeWolfs are working toward now – to raise awareness among those who knew Paul, or were inspired by his story, and encourage them to give.

Paul DeWolf never got a chance to practice medicine. But he touched many lives during his remarkable and too-short life.

Now, his legacy could help tomorrow’s doctors make a difference in far more lives.


Take the next step:

  • Give to the Paul DeWolf Scholarship Fund online via credit card:
  • Or, mail a check payable to The University of Michigan, with a memo line of “Paul DeWolf Memorial Scholarship-798682”, to the UMHS Office of Medical Development, 1000 Oakbrook Dr., Suite 100, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
  • Learn more about applying to the U-M Medical School, including all financial aid options

U-M Medical School logoSince graduating its first class of six students in 1851, the U-M Medical School has been a leader in preparing the physicians and scientists of the future, conducting pathbreaking research and working with the U-M Hospitals & Health Centers to deliver outstanding care of all kinds. With top-tier national and international rankings for education & research funding, more than 3,000 faculty and nearly 1,900 students and advanced trainees, the school is truly one of the nation’s leaders and best.

Not just any diploma: The unique tradition of the U-M Medical School graduation certificate

Carefully orchestrated signing process starts in winter

Each graduate receives a diploma hand-signed by 30 people

Each graduate receives a diploma hand-signed by 30 people

Today, 181 brand new doctors will stride across a stage at the University of Michigan, ready to take on the world and become tomorrow’s health care leaders.

One by one, the members of the U-M Medical School’s 165th graduating class will shake the dean’s hand, pose for a picture – and receive a rolled-up parchment that proves they have completed their medical training at one of the nation’s top institutions.

As they leave the stage, they’ll take their first steps as physicians – and enter the next phase of training in residency programs that will prepare them to practice in a specific medical field.

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