• By Dana Sparks

Science Saturday: Transplanted scientist develops transplant tool

September 9, 2017

Dr. Ivan Nenadic in a classroom, leaning against a wipeboardAs part of a team that included physician-scientists, biomedical engineers and students, Ivan Nenadic, Ph.D., brought the math to help transplant patients know more about their new organ with fewer needles.

Ivan Nenadic, Ph.D., is equipped with dišpet, a Croatian word that means perseverance bordering on defiance.

“It’s inherent in our people,” says Dr. Nenadic, who grew up in war-torn Yugoslavia. “When facing an obstacle, you don’t get rattled. You have composure under pressure, remain level headed, and decide what’s the next step. There’s a strong faith in a better tomorrow.”

Dišpet explains much. Like how 17-year-old Ivan left home in Serbia, moving to the United States for a career in science, how ultimately, his efforts helped create a noninvasive imaging alternative to needle biopsy; and why this doctorate-level scientist is going back to school to become a physician.

Coming to America

“It’s known around the world that, if you want to do something serious in science, you go to the U.S.,” Dr. Nenadic says.

He landed in Rochester, Minnesota, as a 17-year-old foreign-exchange student hosted by Douglas Wood, M.D., a cardiologist, internist and medical director of Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation; and Julia Wood, a former nurse at Mayo Clinic. They soon became his second stand-in set of parents.

“I was not interested in medicine until I was essentially adopted by the Wood family,” Dr. Nenadic recalls. “I was beginning to understand that there’s a lot more to it than solving a medical question. You’re trying to help patients achieve a happy life.” Read the rest of the article on Discovery's Edge.
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