COVID-19: The Way Forward
is an exploratory journey of emerging questions and new developments around COVID-19. As we move into a new phase of the pandemic with vaccines becoming available, we’ll discuss real-time updates and what we believe lies ahead.  

Mini Medical School offers a unique glimpse into the health sciences at the University of Minnesota. Community learners with a shared interest in health embark on a journey examining the scientific foundations of health and disease. Presented using common language for ease of understanding complex topics, your guides are internationally renowned experts who are shaping the way health care is delivered locally and globally. You will also hear from Minnesotans with lived experience of COVID-19.

COVID-19: The Way Forward Session Details:

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Session 1: COVID-19 Vaccines, Variants, & Evolution

COVID-19 Vaccines, Variants, & Evolution

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Go to Session: 1 Q&A

As COVID-19 vaccines continue to roll out, learn about the science behind the different vaccines being produced in the U.S. and around the world. During session 1 of Mini Medical School: COVID-19: The Way Forward, University experts will discuss how the vaccines were developed, their safety and efficacy, vaccine resistance, and new variants of COVID-19. By attending the session, you’ll learn about the different types of COVID-19 vaccines, how they work, and how they will change as the virus evolves.


Lou Mansky

Louis M. Mansky, PhD
Louis Mansky, PhD, is a professor and the director of the Institute for Molecular Virology at the University of Minnesota, which broadly unites researchers involved in studies involving viruses. He is a molecular virologist who has been engaged in virology research for over 35 years. The past three decades have been dedicated to the study of human retroviruses. This has been focused on HIV and the closely related human T-cell leukemia virus (HTLV), a cancer-causing human retrovirus. His research group has also worked on hepatitis B virus (a cause of hepatocellular carcinoma), and in the past year has pivoted to conduct research on SARS-CoV-2.

Ana Núñez

Ana Núñez, MD, FACP
Ana Núñez, MD, FACP, is a professor of General Internal Medicine and Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Minnesota. She received her Doctorate in Medicine from Hahnemann University and Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Wilkes University. She has fellowships in medical education from Michigan State University and health services research from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). She is nationally recognized as a medical education and health services researcher, having developed novel curricula in the areas of sex and gender medicine, primary care, trauma/violence prevention and cultural competence.

Jason Varin

Jason Varin, RPh, PharmD
Jason Varin RPh, PharmD, is an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy. Dr. Varin practiced as a community pharmacist for over 22 years during which time he participated in pharmaceutical care research, implemented clinical pharmacy care, immunization, and disease management programs. He also developed a pharmacist preceptor training and development program and served as preceptor and mentor to scores of student pharmacists. Dr. Varin has provided testimony, interviews, and presentations on a wide range of topics including, Legislative Advocacy, Vaccine Process, Community Pharmacy Management, Opioid Use Disorder and treatment, Scope of Practice, Emergency Use Authorization Policy, and Ketamine Use in Drug Enforcement.


Kristin A. Hogquist

Kristin Hogquist, PhD
Kristin A. Hogquist, PhD, is the associate director of the Center for Immunology at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Hogquist’s lab is primarily interested in T cell development in the thymus. They study how selection processes shape the T cell repertoire to achieve a highly effective and self-tolerant adaptive immune system.

Session 2: Advancing Health Equity During a Pandemic

Advancing Health Equity During a Pandemic
Monday, Feb. 22, 2021

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Minnesota Health Resources during COVID 19 Pandemic (PDF)

Examining the social determinants of health—the environments in which people live, work, and age—is crucial to understanding the disparities COVID-19 has laid bare. People are losing their jobs and health insurance, and delaying needed health care. During session 2 of the University of Minnesota’s Mini Medical School: COVID-19: The Way Forward, a group of University experts will focus on how we must address these realities in the months and years ahead of us. By attending the session, you’ll learn about the intersection of COVID-19, economic downturn, racial disparities,  and what you can do, and we can do collectively, to promote health, eliminate inequities, and envision a new kind of health care as a community.


Lynn Blewett

Lynn Blewett, PhD
Lynn A. Blewett, PhD, is professor of Health Policy at the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health and director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), a multidisciplinary research and policy center that provides data analytics and policy analysis to inform evidenced-based health policy. She is also PI of the IPUMS Integrated Health Surveys Series (IPUMS Health Surveys) that harmonizes multiple years of federal public health survey data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) - Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). Professor Blewett has a MA from the Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a PhD in health services research and policy from the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health. She has health policy experience at both the state and federal levels. She worked as a legislative aid for health policy for U.S. Senator Dave Durenberger in Washington DC and was the Health Economist for the state of Minnesota. She teaches a graduate level course in state health policy and politics and a course on international comparative health systems.

Mary Owen

Mary Owen, MD
Mary Owen, MD, is a member of the Tlingit nation. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School and North Memorial Family Practice Residency Program before returning home to work for her tribal community in Juneau, Alaska. After eleven years of full-scope family medicine, she returned to the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth in 2014, as the Director of the Center of American Indian and Minority Health (CAIMH). Her work includes: developing and managing programs to increase the numbers of American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) students entering medical careers, outreaching to local and national Native leaders to ensure University of Minnesota Medical School remain in tune with AIAN health care and education needs, developing an AIAN track for all students interested in providing healthcare to AIAN communities and developing research efforts to address AIAN health disparities. She continues to provide clinical care at the Center of American Indian Resources in Duluth and is the current President of the Association of American Indian Physicians. 

Elizabeth Wrigley-Field

Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, PhD
Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, PhD, is an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota in the department of Sociology and the Minnesota Population Center. She specializes in racial inequality in mortality and historical infectious disease and co-leads (with J.P. Leider) an ongoing project on COVID-19 mortality in Minnesota. She is also a quantitative methodologist, developing models designed to clarify relationships between micro and macro perspectives on demographic relationships.


Roli Dwivedi

Roli Dwivedi, MD
Roli Dwivedi, MD, is an assistant professor of Family Medicine and Community Health and chief clinical officer at the Community-University Health Care Center at the University of Minnesota. She received her medical training at Vaishampayan Memorial Medical School in India, and completed residency in family medicine at the University of Minnesota. She is involved with several leadership and quality committees all across Minnesota and serves as director at large within the executive committee of Minnesota AFP. She is an educator and likes to create new models of teaching and culturally competent care deliveries. Dr. Dwivedi leads the the Disparities in COVID Response Task Force, a collaboration with the University of Minnesota system across Minnesota health departments, local and regional health care systems and communities to increase COVID testing and vaccinations in diverse communities and reduce disparity gaps by coordinating and disseminating resources on testing, mobile care and immunization events.

Session 3: Long COVID


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Presentation Materials:

We are just beginning to discover and learn about the long-term impacts of surviving COVID-19. During session 3 of the University of Minnesota’s Mini Medical School: COVID-19: The Long Haul, we’ll explore questions around long-term symptoms living with COVID-19 after the initial (acute) infection. By attending this session, you’ll hear from researchers exploring long-term questions around COVID-19 and what the implications are for our collective future.


Melissa Behl

Melissa Behl BSN, RN, PHN, CCM
Melissa Behl BSN, RN, PHN, CCM, Supervisor RN Care Coordination, has been a registered nurse for over 17 years. She has professional experience in both inpatient and ambulatory care settings. In the hospital setting, Behl was on an acute/medical surgical unit with an intermediate level respiratory care for several years. In the ambulatory setting, she worked as the lead RN at a Fairview Clinic in areas of triage, anticoagulation, hypertension clinic and urology. She was also a home care case manager prior to finding her niche in nursing as a clinic care coordinator. Her passion in nursing is to help patients and caregivers identify barriers, provide education and resources to achieve their optimum state of overall wellbeing.

Jayne Fulkerson

Jayne Fulkerson, PhD
Jayne Fulkerson, PhD, professor, Child Family Health Cooperative, Director, Center for Child and Family Health Promotion Research, School of Nursing, University of Minnesota.

Michael Kasprzak

Michael Kasprzak, DO
Michael Kasprzak, DO, is an assistant professor for the department of rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He is board certified in brain injury medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation. He is currently the program lead for the concussion clinic neurosciences service line. Additionally, he has been caring for COVID-19 recovery patients at the Fairview Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit as well as helping at the new post covid outpatient clinic.

Tanya Melnik

Tanya Melnik, MD
Tanya Melnik, MD, is an assistant professor in the department of medicine at the University of Minnesota. She earned her M.D. from the University of Minnesota Medical School. She completed her residency in internal medicine at the University of Minnesota as well. Her main clinical interests are general internal medicine, women’s health and complicated pregnancies.   

Douglas Whiteside

Douglas Whiteside, PHD, ABPP/CN
Douglas Whiteside, PhD, ABPP/CN, is a professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Minnesota and the training director for the Clinical Neuropsychology Residency Program. He is actively involved in clinical neuropsychological practice, teaching, research, and community service. His research interests focus primarily on performance validity tests, personality assessment measures in neuropsychological assessment, and long term cognitive and emotional outcomes of COVID-19 infection. He is a member of the editorial board for The Clinical Neuropsychologist and has served as a peer reviewer for several neuropsychological and psychological journals. He is currently president of the Association of Postdoctoral Programs in Clinical Neuropsychology (APPCN), an international organization for neuropsychology postdoctoral programs.


Carolyn Porta

Carolyn Porta, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN
Carolyn Porta, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, is the associate vice president for clinical affairs for the University of Minnesota. She is a professor in the School of Nursing, and an adjunct professor in the School of Public Health and the Center for Spirituality and Healing. Dr. Porta is a forensic clinician and prevention scientist committed to improving the health and well-being of vulnerable individuals, families, and communities in Minnesota and around the globe. She has decades of experience in clinical service, team science, and interprofessional education, including strategic and operational leadership of large-scale multisectoral global initiatives addressing emerging infectious disease threats, gender-based violence, stigma, and faculty and health care workforce development.


Session 1 Webinar Recording and Q&A Clips

COVID-19 Vaccines, Variants, & Evolution

Session 2 Webinar Recording and Q&A Clips

Advancing Health Equity During a Pandemic

Session 3 Webinar Recording and Q&A Clips