Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation Receives $5 Million Donation to Address Research Gap in Women’s Heart Health

Nov 24, 2019

This evening at our annual Heartbeat Gala, we announced that Penny and Lee Anderson committed the largest donation ($5 million) in our Foundation’s history, a gift that will be dedicated entirely to women’s heart health.

Penny and Lee Anderson’s donation will help fund research and education on women’s cardiovascular health. In honor of this transformational contribution, our new women’s heart health research program will be named the Penny Anderson Women’s Cardiovascular Center.

For nearly four decades, our organization has been a catalyst in the prevention, detection and treatment of heart and vascular disease in both men and women. The Penny Anderson Women’s Cardiovascular Center is poised to further our commitment to conduct innovative, evidence-based research, and then translate that evidence to enhance patient care as well as to educate providers and patients on women’s heart health.

“Historically, women have been under-represented in cardiology research. In fact, women’s heart health research is 35 years behind that of men’s,” said Kristine Fortman, Ph.D., CEO. “While some strides have been made in recent years, knowledge gaps remain, and disparities exist in health care delivery and health outcomes between men and women. The Anderson’s donation will help to close this critical disparity.”

For the Andersons, a strong personal interest in women’s heart health coupled with a commitment to help others inspired them to make the generous donation. The Andersons were early founding supporters of our organization, and Penny has previously served on our board of directors. Moreover, the couple shares a personal connection to heart disease and the donation was made in honor of Penny’s service to the Foundation.

“Contrary to popular belief, just as many women die from heart disease each year as do men. I have been diagnosed with a heart ailment as were other members of my family and I was fortunate to have the best treatment available at the time,” said Penny Anderson. “MHIF is poised to lead in women’s cardiovascular health, helping to close the gap that exists, and I am honored to be part of this important effort.”

Generous contributions from patrons like the Andersons enable MHIF to make an impact on patient awareness, increase provider education and encourage high-quality research to improve outcomes for women’s cardiovascular care.

“We are extremely grateful to Penny and Lee Anderson for the wonderful partnership with the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation over a number of decades,” said Dr. Scott Sharkey, Chief Medical Officer. “For years we have identified a number of transformational cardiovascular research opportunities related to women but have not had the opportunity to carry our research forward. We now understand that men’s and women’s hearts are very different. This exceptionally generous gift will allow us to explore this line of research now and for generations to come.”

Learn more about Penny Anderson Women’s Cardiovascular Center


Penny and Lee Anderson's Story

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The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF) strives to create a world without heart and vascular disease. To achieve this bold vision, we are dedicated to improving the cardiovascular health of individuals and communities through innovative research and education.

Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, we can continue this life-saving work. Please make a gift to support the area of greatest need.

Research Milestone: FDA approves device used as alternative to open-heart

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Triclip team

We are honored to celebrate the culmination of years of research that has resulted in new technologies for patients! In the few last weeks, we announced a similar research milestone with the FDA approval of the TriClip system for tricuspid regurgitation. We celebrated this important milestone with local media KSTP-TV, who spotlighted the importance of this new technology. We were proud to be a leading clinical site led by Global PI Dr. Paul Sorajja and the MHIF research team who contributed significant data to the pivotal trial.