Our History

In 1982, 13 physicians from Minneapolis Heart Institute® (MHI) had a vision to create a nonprofit research organization to fulfill a necessary gap. This goal resulted in the founding of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF). 

The Founding of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation

“You can’t think big enough.”

In 1981, Dr. Robert Van Tassel and 12 other cardiologists who founded the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital set out to do just that — think big. The physicians knew that providing the finest and most advanced patient care would require a commitment to cardiovascular research and education. They founded the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation just a year later and throughout his years of leadership at MHI and MHIF, Dr. Van Tassel’s advice to all incoming physicians and researchers has been that they can’t think big enough. Today, that phrase has become an iconic motto at both MHI and MHIF.

MHIF original founders photo
Top row: Richard Nelson, Orn Arnar, James Daniel, Charles Jorgenson, Robert Van Tassel, William Kelly, William Northrup Middle row: Ted Peterson, Fred Gobel, Kit Arom, Jonathan Rogers, Joe Kiser Front row: Rolf Andreassen, William Lindsay, Demetre Nicollof
surgeons working

The first atherectomy in the Twin Cities is performed by a MHI physician

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center

MHIF Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center formed; by 2017, HCM is a treatable disease and compatible with normal life expectancy

Bypass Surgery

MHIF conducts research on a new surgical technique for bypass surgery, which costs less and reduces the risk of complications

Artificial Hearts

MHI physicians are the first to implant the Jarvik 7-70 total artificial heart

Angiogenesis Trial

First angiogenesis trial at MHIF begins, focused on stimulating new blood vessels in blocked areas of the heart

First-in-World Valve Implant

First-in-the-world implant of a new technology providing an option for mitral valve disease

Lead National Trial

MHIF chosen to lead national trial evaluating a novel device for limb salvage in peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

First-in-World Enrollment

First-in-the-world enrollment into a clinical study evaluating first-of-its kind technology for tricuspid regurgitation

Pericarditis First-in-the-World Patient

Enrolled first-in-the-world patient in unique phase II study for recurrent pericarditis in patients who have symptoms despite standard therapy

Top Enroller for Catheter Procedure

Top enroller evaluating catheter-based procedure with ultrasound energy to inactivate the kidney nerve endings with goal of lowering blood pressure

The Founding Vision

“If you participate in research, but don’t disseminate your findings to the medical community both nationally and internationally, it’s somewhat hollow,” explained Dr. Van Tassel. “One must create a structure that allows you to write and document in research papers, submit to peer-reviewed journals, and then present your findings at professional meetings.”

  • Participate in regional and national cardiovascular research
  • Develop an educational program for practicing physicians, physicians in training, students and the lay community
  • Freely share and disseminate the research findings through peer-reviewed journals and by participating at national and international conferences
  • Become a national center of excellence in cardiovascular medicine

Thank You, MHIF Founders

“The Founders are very proud to have been a part of creating this leading cardiovascular foundation, which plays such an important role in how we ultimately care for our patients,” said Dr. Van Tassel. “The foundation has harnessed the exceptional research talent of physicians and researchers, growing year after year and is well-known as a prominent leader in cardiovascular research. The findings of our research are shared in multiple peer-reviewed articles published each year.”

He continued, “MHIF is poised to address the next era of research, the next set of issues in improving treatment options, and how that care is delivered to the various populations of patients we serve. Through preventive cardiology and clinical research in clinical care, we strive to reach the goal of extending and saving lives. Thank you to all the Founders for making the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation possible. You have established a very important legacy for our community and throughout the world.”

MHIF founders event photo
MHIF founders event photo
Give the Gift of Hope
4 photos of families smiling

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.

All Gifts Matched! Educating the Next Generation of Heart Heroes

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intern group photo

Since 2002, MHIF's Clinical Research Internship Program has hosted 235+ students for a unique physician-mentored cardiovascular research internship for undergraduate students. Interns not only gain exceptional experience that helps them prepare for medical school, they also help move MHIF research forward.

Community support is key to our ability to enlist the highest level of talent with annual internship costs exceeding $25,000 per intern. Build new opportunities for the next generation of world-class physician researchers by making a MATCHED gift by May 31st!