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

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Final Version of Common Rule Announced

January 18, 2017

The long-awaited updated version of the Common Rule – the regulations safeguarding individuals who participate in research – was announced today by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The goal of the revision is to strengthen protections of research participants without adding undue administrative burdens for researchers, particularly in low-risk studies. This is the first update of the rules since 1991. The Common Rule revisions will inform the expert presentations at the Consortium's research ethics events on March 8-9, consisting of a national conference, "The Future of Informed Consent in Research and Translational Medicine" on March 8 and the University of Minnesota's "Annual Research Ethics Day" on March 9. These events will be webcast; for more information and to register, visit the Consortium's events page. The Annual Research Ethics Day on March 9 will conclude with in-person workshops and trainings on practical research topics. To learn more, visit z.umn.edu/researchtr

Sunfish caught in Sullivan Lake

New Study Shows Trace Amounts of Drugs May Harm Fish

January 12, 2017

"Trace levels of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals may be harming fish in Minnesota rivers and lakes, according to a study released Thursday by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)," reports Minnesota Public Radio. The new study confirms that such chemicals as antidepressants, insect repellent and the X-ray contrast agent iopamidol are commonly found in the state's rivers. MPCA lead scientist Mark Ferrey asserts, "Chemicals, even at those concentrations, can cause adverse effects in fish and wildlife that we're really just starting now to be able to understand." New developments in genetics allow scientists to examine the effects of this pollution. Prof. Dalma Martinovic-Weigelt of the University of St. Thomas is doing such a study, exposing fathead minnows to contaminated water and tracking the genetic response. Her research has the goal of pinpointing "what you should be worried about. Because there's so much information about these chemicals and their effect." Her study shows changes in minnow genes related to reproduction, growth and tumor formation among fish exposed to the contaminants. The entire MPR article can be found here

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Medical Device Tax Under Fire

January 9, 2017

A 2.3% excise tax on medical devices is among the many aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) likely to be repealed during the current congressional session. The tax was collected starting in 2013, with the intention of offsetting expected ACA-driven profits for companies benefiting from expanded federally-funded Medicare and Medicaid payments. However, Congress passed a two-year repeal of the tax that was enacted in 2015 in an effort led by legislators representing states, like Minnesota, with robust medical device industries. According to the Star Tribune, "With [medical device excise tax] collections set to start again in January 2018, [Republican GOP Representative Erik] Paulsen is going for the coup de grace with a GOP-controlled House, Senate and White House that have made repealing the ACA a top priority." The article notes that the bill's co-sponsors, Paulsen and Wisconsin Democrat Ron Kind, "adopted the industry’s talking points in opposing the tax as a job killer that also took money away from research and development."

Upcoming Events

Frontier Issues in Research Ethics, March 8-9, 2017

You're invited to attend the following research ethics events being held in early March. They are: 

To learn more and register, click here

Consortium Job Opportunity

We are seeking a full-time Executive Assistant to support the administrative, programmatic, research, and teaching functions of the Consortium and its leadership. This is a Bargaining Unit position; applications will be accepted until the job is filled. Questions may be directed to Audrey Boyle at boyle032@umn.edu. For more information or to apply, go the University of Minnesota Job Center and search for Job ID 314265. Here's a direct link for current University of Minnesota employees; here's one for those not currently employed by the U

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