Consortium Introduction

The Consortium conducts original research, serves students and faculty, and advances public dialogue and understanding on emerging issues at the intersection of science and society.

Latest News

Black mother holding a young baby on her shoulder

Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality Examined

February 16, 2017

An article in The Nation, "What’s Killing America’s Black Infants?" provides a sobering analysis of the disproportionately high death rate among African-American babies. Despite decades of interventions and public health initiatives, the racial infant mortality gap actually grew during the 1980s and 90s: during that time, "Black women who received prenatal care starting in the first trimester were still losing children at higher rates than white women who never saw a doctor during their pregnancies." This led to research into whether black women have a genetic predisposition to poor birth outcomes, which was largely disproven. However, more recently, "a growing body of evidence points to racial discrimination, rather than race itself, as the dominant factor in explaining why so many black babies are dying." The article profiles efforts in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which has one of the worst infant-mortality rates of all US cities, to reverse the trend.

Seal of University of Minnesota law school

Consortium Research Assistants Selected for Minnesota Law Review

February 13, 2017

Both of the legal project assistants (LPAs) currently working with Consortium chair Susan M. Wolf, JD, have received staff appointments for volume 102 of the Minnesota Law Review, an honor indicating high achievement in legal studies. Caroline Bressman was selected as Symposium Articles Editor, and Lauren Clatch is Lead Articles Editor. Ms. Bressman is a graduate of St. Olaf College who clerked at Nichols Kaster last summer. Ms. Clatch graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and interned for Chief Judge John R. Tunheim at the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis last summer. Both are assisting Prof. Wolf with research related to the LawSeq grant. Congratulations to these law students on this well-deserved honor! 

Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries Zika virus

Emerging Diseases Lecture Videos Available

February 8, 2017

Videos of the first two lectures in the Consortium's lecture series on Emerging Diseases in a Changing Environment are now available for online viewing. The first, Finches, Dogs, Lions and Zika: An Ecologist Looks at Emerging Disease, was delivered by Prof. Andrew Dobson (DPhil, Princeton) on Jan. 24, 2017. Prof. Jonna Mazet (DVM, MPVM, PhD) gave the second, Ending the Pandemic Era: Science at the Animal-Human-Environmental Interface, on Feb. 7, 2017. Please register for the final lecture and webcast in the series by former head of the Centers for Disease Control and current Executive Vice President at Merck, Julie L. Gerberding, MD, MPH. Her topic is Combating Microbial Terrorists: How to End Our Preparedness Stalemate, and she will bo on campus April 13, 2017. Co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Prevention (CIDRAP), the Institute on the Environment (IonE), and the Food Protection and Defense Institute.

Doctor with patients and tablet computer

National Research Ethics Conferences Announced

February 2, 2017

On March 8th and 9th, 2017, the Consortium will present two related conferences on frontier issues in research ethics. Building on the sold-out Research with Human Participants conference held in December, 2015, the March events will bring together renowned speakers from a variety of disciplines to address how informed consent ethics and policy have developed over the past century and what tools are needed to improve patient and research protections going forward. Discussion will include recent changes to the Common Rule governing research, including changes on informed consent and broad consent. On March 8, an all-day conference and simultaneous webcast will address The Future of Informed Consent in Research and Translational Medicine. The morning of March 9 will kick off the University of Minnesota's first-ever Research Ethics Day with a half-day conference and webcast on The Challenges of Informed Consent. Research Ethics Day concludes in the afternoon with trainings and workshops designed to provide concrete, actionable and hands-on approaches to the everyday challenges of properly conducting research with human participants. To learn more and register, visit our conference website

Upcoming Events

Research Funding Available for Graduate, Professional Students

We are pleased to announce a funding opportunity for graduate and professional students on all University of Minnesota campuses. Each year, the Consortium provides funding for intramural projects related to the societal implications of problems in health, environment, and the life sciences. Grants will be awarded in the spring 2017 for work during the summer 2017 and academic year 2017-18; proposals are due Feb. 13, 2017. Learn more and get application materials