MHIF Physician-Initiated Research

The MHIF Physician-Initiated Research Program provides our researchers the opportunity to design and lead their own studies to answer critical heart and vascular health questions that might otherwise go unanswered. This research is funded by MHIF and not sponsored by industry partners. 

Answering Critical Questions

Every day, MHIF research physicians focus on compelling frontiers of treatment and clinical areas of urgent patient need. And also every day in their clinical practice with patients, our partnering cardiologists and vascular specialists at the Minneapolis Heart Institute® (MHI) continually unearth new research questions that they feel are imperative to explore further.

To answer those critical questions that might otherwise go unanswered, MHIF supports physician-initiated research, or research that is initiated by a physician’s simple, yet powerful question: Why?

MHIF’s Innovation Fund provides the resources necessary to answer the questions, share the findings with professionals worldwide, and ultimately improve the quality and length of patients’ lives.

Leading the Way to Cardiovascular Innovation

MHIF leads groundbreaking physician-initiated research across all cardiovascular specialties and a wide spectrum of heart and vascular diseases, as well as prevention. This research includes studies ranging from the use of stem cells, to exploring the effects of diet and exercise and lifestyle factors, to exploring health disparities. Each research project is conceived and led by an MHI® physician and is executed by a dedicated team of highly skilled MHIF staff.

Over the past four decades, MHIF’s Physician-Initiated Research Program has gained an international reputation by virtue of a number of key contributions to improving cardiovascular health throughout the world. This research has transformed patient care, improved medical practice and trained future generations of researchers. Every year, MHIF research is regularly featured at the most prestigious cardiovascular research conferences. 

Level One

By standardizing and accelerating initial care decisions to ensure those suffering a heart attack are ready for rapid intervention, the Level One heart attack program MHIF researchers pioneered has reduced deaths by more than 50 percent in the facilities where care teams practice it.


By managing body temperature after sudden cardiac arrest, Cool-It improves survival and neurological outcomes. Hospitals across the country have implemented this lifesaving treatment protocol.

Heart of New Ulm

Our groundbreaking initiative in New Ulm, Minn., — Hearts Beat Back®: The Heart of New Ulm Project — was a 10-year research demonstration project to identify and deliver the best interventions to reduce heart disease and its risk factors at a population level. Community members made significant health improvements and reduced their risk factors for heart attacks. Through our Rural Health Transformation Center, MHIF is sharing the findings from this real-world experience to help other rural communities across the nation improve health outcomes and achieve sustainable change.

Training the Next Generation of Researchers

As part of the Physician-Initiated Research Program, MHIF is exceptionally proud to include a mechanism for training the next generation of cardiovascular researchers. MHIF offers post-college graduate students interested in a career in cardiovascular research a one-year or two-year research associate position. Each research associate is assigned several research projects to be conducted under the supervision of a dedicated MHI physician mentor. This collaboration model has been very successful and three MHIF research associates have been accepted to respected advanced degree health care programs.

MHIF Physician-Initiated Research: How It Works

Step 1: Why? What if? 

Research starts with a physician’s scientific question: How can we improve treatment and outcomes for a specific heart or vascular condition, or help more people avoid developing the condition? 

Step 2: Study Development & Approval

The MHIF research team creates the plan for the study and determines how they will identify and enroll patients, conduct the research, and evaluate the results. The team submits the plan to an Institutional Review Board (IRB), which approves the research as required by law for studies that involve humans.

Step 3: Patient Recruitment

The research team invites eligible patients to participate in the study. By volunteering to participate, patients may gain early access to new treatments and medications, and make a significant contribution to finding new and better ways to treat various conditions. 

Step 4: Research Activities

During the study, which may last from months to years, researchers evaluate new procedures and carefully monitor steps in the care of patients to understand what is best for patients.  

Step 5: Analyzing Data

Through extensive data analysis and modeling, research scientists examine variables and results from the study to determine the precise impacts of the drug, device or medical treatment. This knowledge is critical to improving patient outcomes.

Step 6: Find Results, Share Findings

MHIF research teams publish their findings in peer-reviewed journal articles or abstracts and share their work at events such as the American College of Cardiology’s Scientific Sessions. Each year, teams spend more than 10,000 hours educating general practitioners and other cardiologists about the latest research so they can incorporate it into their practices.

Our Innovation Fund

“We’re very excited about the Innovation Fund, because it will allow us to be more agile in pursuing investigator-initiated research opportunities. As a complement to the research we conduct with funding from our vitally important industry partners, this new fund will enable us to move quickly in commencing important research that will help us further innovation and identify lifesaving treatment options.” 

– Cardiologist and MHIF researcher Dr. William Katsiyiannis

Our Innovation Fund Supports:

  • Disease and Disease Progression Studies – Improve the ability to understand, identify and prevent cardiovascular disease.
  • Intervention Studies – Evaluate new procedures or advanced techniques that improve outcomes for patients.
  • Registry Studies – Use the power of patient data to change the way we identify or effectively treat conditions.
  • Care Delivery Studies – Look for ways to deliver value-based care for better patient outcomes and lower health care costs.

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