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Open Heart: Intracardiac Surgery at the University of Minnesota

The Closed Heart

Early Research

In light of the emerging advances in cardiac surgical procedures, Owen Wangensteen, who required that all faculty of the Department of Surgery pursue a field of laboratory research, placed an emphasis on cardiovascular study in the 1940s.  This research was prevalent in an era when heart disease – disorders of the heart, vessels, valves, and malformations to the heart structure – was the leading cause of death in America. Drs. Ivan Baronofsky, John Paine, and Richard Varco received funding from the Graduate School and state and national health organizations to conduct research that allowed them to perfect known surgical procedures as well as develop further understanding of heart anatomy.