Arlen R. Severson, PhD

Arlen R. Severson
Contact info


Office Phone


Office Address
209 Medical School Duluth
1035 University Drive
Duluth, MN 55812

Mailing Address
DMED Biomedical Sciences
336 SMed
1035 University Dr
Duluth, MN 55812

Titles & Organizations

Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences


Brookhaven National Laboratory, 1965-1967

Doctoral Degree
PhD, University of North Dakota (Medical Sciences), 1965

Master's Degree
MS, University of North Dakota (Anatomy), 1963

Bachelor's Degree
BA, Concordia College (Biology & Chemistry), 1961


Research Summary/Interests

Atherosclerosis is a leading cause of myocardial infarction, strokes and gangrene. One of the dominant features of the atherosclerotic lesion is the presence of calcification. Previous studies have focused on the normal calcification processes involving skeletal tissue. Developments in calcification research have lead to the recognition of similarities between normal calcification of skeletal tissue and abnormal calcification in the vascular wall at atherosclerotic sites.

The primary research objective has been to apply information and techniques used in studying normal calcifying tissues to the calcification process occurring in atheromatous lesions. This includes determining if osteogenic cell proteins are present in calcifying coronary arteries, what known bone growth factors may be present and responsible for coronary artery calcification, and messenger RNA levels of proteins relevant to the calcification process.

These studies have wide-ranging implications for the prevention of coronary artery calcification because of the many new drugs and antibodies currently available (or in development) that alter the calcification process in bone. The finding of similar features between normal calcified tissue and calcified coronary arteries will guide future research and therapies that could prevent coronary artery disease.

Facilitating the transformation of undergraduate medical education as medical education moves into the next decade is another endeavor being undertaken.

The approach to learning that is being pursued is that of Team-Based Learning (TBL). TBL assumes that learning goals should be faculty-directed and used to guide individual and group learning activities. In TBL, students initially learn by receiving learning objectives and preparing before class by using the learning objectives.

At the beginning of the class period, each student takes a test on the material studied. The same test is then administered to designated groups of students (group test) in which the students discuss the possible answers and defend their reasoning. The group decides on the correct answer, and the group test is then discussed in the classroom. Discussion of clinical cases related to the subject follow.

TBL emphasizes three keys to effective active learning: 

  1. individual and group accountability; 
  2. need and opportunity for group interaction; and 
  3. motivation to engage in give-and-take discussion. 

Documentation of the learning experience is being gathered using a student questionnaire having both objective and subjective questions.


Severson,A.R., Haut C.F., Firling, C.E. and Huntley, T.E. Influence of aluminum exposure on demineralized bone matrix (DBM)-induced bone formation. Arch Toxicol, 66: 706, 1992.

Ingram, R.T., Severson, A.R., Edwards, W.D. and Fitzpatrick, L.A. Diffuse calcification in human atherosclerotic coronary arteries: Implications for the formation of calcified plaque. J Clin Invest, 94: 1597, 1994.

Firling, C.E., Severson,A.R. and Hill, T.A. Aluminum effects on blood chemistry and long bone development in the chick embryo. Arch Toxicol, 68: 541, 1994.

Severson, A.R., Ingram, R.T., and Fitzpatrick, L.A. Matrix proteins associated with bone calcification are present in human vascular smooth muscle cells grown in vitro. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology 31:853, 1995.

Sangiorgi, G., Rumberger, J.A., Severson, A.R., Edwards, W.D., Gregoire, J., Fitzpatrick, L., and Schwartz, R.S. Arterial calcification and not lumen stenosis is highly correlated with atherosclerotic plaque burden in humans. A histologic study of 723 coronary artery segments using non-decalcifying methodology. J. Amer. College of Cardiology 31:126, 1998.

Firling, C., Hill, T.A., Severson, A.R. Aluminum toxicity perturbs long bone calcification in the embryonic chick. Arch Toxicol, 73: 359, 1999.

Forbes, D.J. and Severson, A.R., Student and faculty experiences at UMD School of Medicine using NeuroView, a computer program for neuroanatomy. UMD TechFest. 2001.

Forbes, D.J. and Severson, A.R. Student and faculty experiences using NeuroView, a computer program for neuroanatomy. Association of American Medical Colleges - Central Group on Educational Affairs. Minneapolis, MN. 2001.

Severson, A.R. and Forbes, D.J., NeuroView: Learning Neuroanatomical structures using a computer-based program. FASAB Journal, 15:A720, 2001.

Kendrick, M.L., Sarr, M.G., Severson, A.R., and Pawlina, W., Anatomic considerations of the cervical tube pharyngostomy. Clinical Anatomy, 14:459. 2001.

Forbes, D.J. and Severson, A.R., Student and faculty experiences at UMD School of Medicine using NeuroView, a computer program for neuroanatomy. International Medical Education Program. Rochester, MN. 2001.

Severson, A.R. and Forbes, D.J., NeuroTimeä, a computer-assisted learning tool for the neuroanatomy laboratory. Clinical Anatomy 15:432, 2002.

Severson, A.R., Team-based learning as an educational strategy for learning normal and abnormal developmental anatomy. FASEB 20(4):A14, 2006

Severson, A.R., Use of team-based learning as an educational tool for learning developmental anatomy. Clinical Anatomy 19(8):762, 2006

Educational Materials Developed:

Severson, A.R. and Eisenberg, R.M. MacBrain Lesion™: A Study/Review Program© Minnesota Medical Edu-Ware, Inc., Duluth, MN, 1991.

Severson, A.R., Raabolle, J., Halls, E., Leppi, T.J. and Fehringer, S. Human Anatomy: Cross Section, CT Scans and X-Rays®. 1995.

Forbes, D.J. and Severson, A.R. NeuroTime® . 2001.

Severson, A.R. Radiographic and Sectional Anatomy Lab. 2006.



  • Med 6505 Applied Anatomy
  • Med 6573 Nervous System
  • Med 6566 Cardiovascular System
  • Med 6728 Respiratory System
  • Med 6746 Fluid and Electrolytes
  • Med 6724 Gastrointestinal Hepatobiliary System
  • Med 6762 Reproductive System