International Scholar Program

Accelerating our groundbreaking physician-initiated research and bringing global exposure to MHIF

Training Global Health Care Leaders

As part of our commitment to education, Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation works to leave a legacy of training future and global health care leaders in the field of heart and vascular health. Since 2017, our International Scholar program has brought practicing physicians from countries around the world for a one- or two-year period to work directly with Minneapolis Heart Institute® physicians and advance MHIF physician-initiated cardiovascular research.

To date, the International Scholar program has welcomed scholars from China, Japan, Brazil, Hungary and Greece.

Research scholars help accelerate our groundbreaking research by helping to design and conduct clinical studies of all types under the supervision of a physician serving as the primary investigator. Research scholars also assist MHIF research teams in disseminating important research findings by publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals and submitting abstracts and challenging cases for publication and/or presentation at scientific conferences, bringing global exposure to MHIF’s research.

“The International Scholar program has been instrumental in the success of MHIF’s Center for Coronary Artery Disease. They bring a wealth of knowledge, but also tremendous drive and motivation that is critical in moving often challenging projects forward. The research work of the international scholars has been published in the top interventional journals and has helped advance the contemporary practice of interventional cardiology.”

— Dr. Emmanouil Brilakis, chairman, Center for Coronary Artery Disease

Featured Highlights

Best Case at ML-CTO Virtual Meeting

A case submission from MHIF CCAD International Scholar Dr. Judit Karacsonyi and CCAD Chairman Dr. Emmanouil Brilakis was awarded Best Case at the ML-CTO meeting.

Cardiovascular Innovations Digital 2020

Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF) was well represented at Cardiovascular Innovations (CVI) Digital 2020 with 16 research physicians along with four MHIF foreign scholars taking part in 16 live sessions and 21 on-demand videos and posters.

Meet the Current Scholars

Cardiovascular Imaging Research Center

Go Hashimoto MD

Go Hashimoto MD

Research Scholar

Home country and hospital: Japan, Toho University Ohashi Medical Center

Medical degree earned: Toho University, Faculty of Medicine, 2006

Started at MHIF: July 2019

Areas of research: Cardiac imaging (CT, MRI)

Why were you interested in becoming an MHIF Research Scholar? A perfect environment as a researcher with a dedicated heart hospital, excellent research staff, mentors, and academic policy for research.

What do you enjoy the most about your work with MHIF? Every week, we have discussions about our research, and the ability to constantly develop it helps me grow and enjoy my work.

What do you enjoy the most about living and working in Minnesota? In Minnesota, we can enjoy the weekends by playing at lake, trekking, or biking. And the people of Minnesota are friendly and very good places to live and work.

Read his full bio here.

Miho Fukui, MD, PhD

Miho Fukui, MD, PhD

Research Scholar

Home country and hospital: Japan, Hyogo College of Medicine Hospital

Medical degree earned: Hyogo Collage of Medicine, 2007

Started at MHIF: September 2018

Areas of Research: Multimodality imaging (cardiac CT, MR, echocardiography) in valvular/structure heart disease

Why were you interested in becoming an MHIF Research Scholar? Because Dr. Joao L. Cavalcante is here and we can learn and research multimodality imaging at the same time.

What do you enjoy the most about your work with MHIF? I’m enjoying a lot of opportunity to learn new transcatheter therapy for valve heart disease and its association with imaging.

What do you enjoy the most about living and working in Minnesota? I’m enjoying friendship and nature.

Read her full bio here.

Bernardo Lopes, MD

Bernardo Lopes, MD

Research Scholar

Home country and hospital: Brazil, Heart Institute, University of São Paulo (InCor)

Medical degree earned: Santa Casa de Vitória School of Sciences, 2009

Started at MHIF: November 2019

Areas of research: Multimodality imaging in structural and valvular heart disease

Why were you interested in becoming an MHIF Research Scholar? Since I finished my training in cardiology and cardiac imaging and started to practice, I noticed the necessity to connect and understand the strengths of each modality to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with valvular heart disease. The idea to come to MHIF started when I watched a talk by João L. Cavalcante, my supervisor, in a Brazilian meeting. He caught my attention skilfully mixing concepts and research from echocardiography, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance to understand complex patients with valvular heart disease. I saw that he was a great person, and was doing research at the frontier of this field, so I asked for an opportunity to work with him as a research fellow.

What do you enjoy the most about your work with MHIF? I really like the people and the MHI environment. The support that we had in the transition and we still have when needed is very comforting. We also have great structure and mentoring, which makes our work very productive and rewarding.

What do you enjoy the most about living and working in Minnesota? I enjoy biking or walking around Lake of the Isles, it is a calm and beautiful place that is great to exercise and recharge after a workday. The nature in Minnesota is rich and I am always delighted to explore it with my wife and friends from MHI. It has been an amazing experience to be working and living in Minnesota, I have a lot of gratitude for the people that made it come true and support me, and I am very happy to work with the MHI team.

Read his full bio here.

Center for Coronary Artery Disease

Judit Karacsonyi, MD, PhD

Judit Karacsonyi, MD, PhD

Senior Research Scholar

Home country and hospital: Second Department of Internal Medicine and Cardiology Center, Division of Invasive Cardiology, University of Szeged, Hungary

Medical degree earned: University of Szeged, 2012

Started at MHIF: March 2020

Areas of research: percutaneous coronary intervention of chronic total occlusions, saphenous vein graft intervention, laser atherectomy, bifurcation lesions, radiation effects on cath lab personnel

Why were you interested in becoming an MHIF Research Scholar? I used to work with Dr. Brilakis and Bavana Rangan at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, so I already knew how great this team is. In addition to this, MHIF is famous for its excellent research and gives plenty of opportunity to complete clinical trials in my interests, namely in percutaneous coronary intervention.

What do you enjoy the most about your work with MHIF? MHIF has an amazing team. I always receive all the needed support and help from everyone. We brainstorm about our ideas and always make it work. We also have plenty of opportunities to present our research at national and international conferences.

What do you enjoy the most about living and working in Minnesota? I love the nature and especially the lakes. It is great fun to run, walk or cycle around them, the sunsets are simply marvelous. Another thing I find really interesting is how the locals cope with the strong winters, it proves to me that anything is possible if you really try.

Read her full bio here.

Ilias Nikolakopoulos, MD

Ilias Nikolakopoulos, MD

Research Scholar

Home country and hospital: Greece, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Medical degree earned: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 2017

Started at MHIF: July 2019

Areas of research: coronary artery bifurcation lesions, chronic total occlusions and bypass grafts, outcomes after acute myocardial infarction across diverse patient populations, access site selection for cardiac catheterization, radiation safety in the catheterization laboratory, implementation of novel technologies in health care

Read his full bio here.

Evangelia Vemmou, MD

Evangelia Vemmou, MD

Research Scholar

Home country and hospital: Greece, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Medical degree earned: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 2017

Started at MHIF: July 2019

Areas of research: Chronic total occlusion percutaneous coronary interventions, bifurcation lesions and radiation in the catheterization laboratory

Why were you interested in becoming an MHIF Research Scholar? Prior to joining the Center for Coronary Artery Disease in July 2019, a three-month scholarship by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the World Hellenic Biomedical Association allowed me to work closely with the Center for Coronary Artery Disease Team. At that time, I enjoyed pursuing my research goals in cardiology at MHIF and found phenomenal mentors and colleagues to collaborate with. The opportunity to do meaningful research drew me to extend my collaboration with MHIF for two more years.

What do you enjoy the most about your work with MHIF? I really like the people and I love the collaborative environment and the variety of projects that we can pursue as MHIF Scholars. I enjoy the fine balance between autonomy and guidance from my mentors, which allows me to explore new ideas and be creative. MHIF is an organization where people know each other on a first-name basis and everybody is supported and treated as an important member of the team.

What do you enjoy the most about living and working in Minnesota? I was surprised by how beautiful the Twin Cities are, particularly during the summer and fall. I love the biking trails and I am grateful that they are plowed and taken care of even during the winter months so that I can ride my bike to work and other places with my friends. My favorite places are Lake of the Isles and Lake Harriett and I love spending time there with my friends and colleagues from Minneapolis.

Read her full bio here.

Valve Science Center

Yu Du, MD, PhD

Yu Du, MD, PhD

Research Scholar

Home country and hospital: China, Beijing Anzhen Hospital, Capital Medical University

Medical degree earned: China Three Gorges University, 2014

Started at MHIF: June 2019

Areas of research: Epidemiology, imaging and transcatheter intervention on valvular heart disease

Why were you interested in becoming an MHIF Research Scholar? MHIF is a renowned leader in valvular heart disease, featuring in the cutting-edged transcatheter therapies on aortic, mitral and tricuspid valve diseases.

What do you enjoy the most about your work with MHIF? With the support of the Valve Science Team, we have comprehensively described poor natural history of moderate aortic stenosis, demonstrated cardiac damage in moderate aortic stenosis, and investigated clinical and imaging predictors and adverse long-term outcomes.

What do you enjoy the most about living and working in Minnesota? Minneapolis, a city of lakes, is a very nice place. I have really enjoyed sports around the lakes, running, biking, kayaking and canoeing. Though winter is long and cold, also beautiful and unforgettable.

Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease Research

Mariana de Oliveira Nunes, MD

Mariana de Oliveira Nunes, MD

Research Scholar

Home country and hospital: Brazil, Instituto Dante Pazzanese de Cardiologia

Medical degree earned: Faculdade Técnico Educacional Souza Marques, 2006

Started at MHIF: May 2019

Why were you interested in becoming an MHIF Research Scholar?  I already had the desire to work with Dr. Kelly Han since I met her in 2016. At that time the Research Scholar program did not exist. So, when she invited me at the end of 2018 I felt very honored and excited to be a part of this program.

What do you enjoy the most about your work with MHIF? I like the fact of being able to help to build and spread the knowledge in my field (congenital heart disease). I also love the experience of meeting people from all around the world and learn from their own experiences. This experience of living abroad and learning a new way to work with some of the most renowned physicians in the US and with the great team that MHIF has is extremely rewarding.

What do you enjoy the most about living and working in Minnesota? I had a great time last year. I arrived here during spring so I was able to feel the city in its most vibrant vibe until winter. Then, during the winter, I could experience many activities that I do not have in my country, which was great also. Too bad this pandemic happened. I wish I had enjoyed even more this year. Nevertheless, I know that I made friends for life here.

Any Gift, Big or Small, has a Significant Impact on People’s Lives