Research ethics — a responsibility of the University and individuals alike

The University of Minnesota is a research university dedicated to the advancement of knowledge. Our research enterprise is premised on the idea that our faculty, staff and students will pursue the truth and allow the data to speak for itself. It also relies on researchers conducting their work in ways that respect the rights and interests of people participating in their studies, as well as the community in which those people live.

As I indicated in a note to researchers this month, faculty, staff and others have made an immense effort to strengthen human research protections across the University. There is a great deal of that work in motion right now, and, as part of those efforts, we are launching a University-wide research ethics campaign, one that includes posters, digital communications, events and other activities to promote and build awareness of the University’s principles, policies and processes that support and require ethical research practices. Continue reading

The State of University Research

By Brian Herman

Last week, I was proud to provide some good news to the Board of Regents in our Annual Report on the State of Research at the U. I hit on high marks for our research enterprise that are a tribute to the creative and dedicated people of our research community (faculty, staff and students) who continue to advance academic scholarship, address global challenges and develop breakthrough research.

In the past year, the University attracted record levels of competitively awarded funding. Our researchers were awarded $754 million in externally sponsored research awards, up nearly 2 percent from FY2014. This represents a record level of funding for the University (when one-time funds from the 2009 federal stimulus bill are discounted) and is part of a long-term upward trend. Over 10 years, the University has seen a 31 percent increase in external awards. This year we also saw the value of a diversified research funding portfolio as a dip in federal awards, our largest source of research support, to the University were more than compensated for by funds from non-federal sources. Continue reading

10 reasons our research enterprise is thriving

Creating Ideas

By Brian Herman

Last week, I presented the annual state of research report for the University of Minnesota to our Board of Regents.

And I had good news.

Despite increasing competition for federal awards and a persistently difficult funding climate, the university, in partnership with its faculty, students, research community and external stakeholders, saw growth in nearly all performance measures in FY2014. These results show a strong research enterprise that has sustained its high ranking among an elite group of public research institutions and is outperforming its peers in the Big Ten.

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Public health crises fueled by federal funding cuts

Bacteria abstract

Nothing focuses the mind like a crisis. For several years, many of us in the scientific research establishment have been warning of the potential impact on public health should the federal government continue to cut research spending.

The Ebola crisis has brought new clarity to that argument. As the virus burns a path through Western Africa and threatens these shores, the threat of Ebola – and contagions like it – is forcing the recognition that there is a direct correlation between reduced budgets and reduced treatments.

“Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a [Ebola] vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready,” said U.S. National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins in an Oct. 12 interview.

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The key to innovation? Invest in a knowledge economy


Many far-reaching innovations were born and nurtured with the university setting serving as the incubator and the locus of brilliance. Facebook and Microsoft, Apple, Google, Medtronic, for example, all were hatched when their creators were barely into their 20s and their student days hardly in their rear view mirrors.

Universities have always played a major role in scientific and technological advances. But because federal research funding is in steep decline, they must dedicate themselves to a much more prominent role. In fact, the U.S. is in danger of losing its research and development primacy—the foundation of our nation’s knowledge economy—- unless universities, partnered with industry, can fill the R&D void.

“Our nation’s role as the world’s innovation leader is in serious jeopardy,” a group of nearly 200 university leaders wrote President Obama last year. Continue reading

Partnerships improve job growth in the state

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has predicted glacial job growth in Minnesota, but this pace will be difficult for the state to sustain and remain competitive at the same time.

We at the University of Minnesota believe an antidote for slow job growth lies in forming strong public-private partnerships, and that is why we are dramatically expanding an innovative effort to help boost the state’s economy.

Called Minnesota Innovation Partnerships, or MN-IP, the program lowers the cost and risk for companies to tap into university research and resources, providing essential ingredients for economic development. One variant of the program helps companies sponsor research. And by providing a one-time, low, upfront fee, companies receive an exclusive worldwide license to intellectual property arising from sponsored research. Continue reading