Phase 3 Grand Challenges Research Awards

Executive Vice President and Provost Karen Hanson in December 2018 announced the third phase of UMN Driving Tomorrow research investments for interdisciplinary collaborations aligned with goals of the campus strategic plan.

Grand Challenges Research Interdisciplinary Team Awards, totaling $1.95 million in support over two years, have been awarded to six interdisciplinary projects encompassing more than 157 faculty and external partners.

The internal research investments will engage University of Minnesota faculty and their external partners in new or expanded work to address complex issues related to Advancing Health through Tailored Solutions, Enhancing Individual and Community Capacity for a Changing World, and Feeding the World Sustainably, (or an integration of one with any of the other four Grand Challenges). These are among the University’s five Grand Challenges focus areas previously identified by the GC Research faculty committee.

Phase 2 of Driving Tomorrow research investments in Fall 2017 awarded a total of $2.96 million to six teams of faculty across two of the University’s Grand Challenges: Assuring Clean Water and Sustainable Ecosystems and Fostering Just and Equitable Communities, or their intersection. Phase 2 also supported the work of the Grand Challenges Research Scholar Collaborative, a unique integration of the expertise of 11 University faculty members. The scholars, during the 2018-2019 academic year, are contributing to a comprehensive approach to Grand Challenges Research scholarship and investigating best practices to make change within the institution to better support interdisciplinary work. Some members also have Community-Engaged Scholar or Global Scholar designations, emphasizing work in partnership with external partners locally and globally.

Five University programs (along with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost) support the work of the Grand Challenges Research Scholar Collaborative: Global Programs & Strategy Alliance, Institute for Advanced Study, Institute on the Environment, Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change, the Office for Public Engagement, and University Libraries.

Phase 1 of Driving Tomorrow research investments in fall 2016 awarded a total of $3.6 million to 29 teams of faculty across all five of the University’s Grand Challenges areas of special focus.
Support for the awards: The University's Grand Challenges investments were made from reallocations previously earmarked for strategic plan investments, augmented by support from the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost and key campus partners.

GC Research Phase 3 Overview

As in the first two phases of the Grand Challenges Research Initiative, Phase 3 interdisciplinary team awards are an investment in research projects that will distinguish the University and its scholars as leaders in addressing the three spotlighted Grand Challenges and their intersection with other Grand Challenges.

The two-year team awards emphasize interdisciplinary work that includes external community partnerships, the integration of undergraduate and graduate students, the involvement of multiple disciplines, and local and international contexts – consistent with the GC research guidelines in the strategic plan. In addition to advancing high-quality research, all awardees are asked to help identify best practices for interdisciplinary research and innovative ways that our institution can further draw on its breadth and depth to enhance interdisciplinary efforts.

GC Research Interdisciplinary Team Awards, January 2019 – January 2021

Six interdisciplinary teams of faculty received awards, with the total investment totaling $1.95 million over two years. The funded interdisciplinary projects include co-PIs, extended teams with additional faculty members, representatives of external partner organizations, and students.

Advancing Health through Tailored Solutions

Clinical Precision Medicine Based on Single Cell Analysis. Co-PIs: Boris Winterhoff, Obstetrics, Gynecology & Women’s Health; Jinhua Wang, Masonic Cancer Center; Tim Starr, Obstetrics, Gynecology & Women’s Health; Andrew Nelson, Laboratory Medicine & Pathology; Constantin Aliferis, Institute for Health Informatics; Doug Yee, Masonic Cancer Center; and Stephen Schondelmeyer, Pharmaceutical Care & Health Systems. $321,000 interdisciplinary team award.

Improving Health and Well-Being with personalized, Pervasive Technology. Co-PIs: Maria Gini, Computer Science & Engineering; Serguei Pakhomov, Pharmacy; Brad Holschuh, Design, Housing & Apparel. $325,000 interdisciplinary team award.

Toward Pharmacogenomics-Enabled Healthcare at Statewide Scale: Implementing Precision Medicine. Co-PIs: Constantin Aliferis, Medicine; Pamala Jacobson, Pharmacy; Catherine A. McCarty, Medicine/Duluth campus; and Susan M. Wolf, Law. $325,000 interdisciplinary team award.

Enhancing Individual and Community Capacity for a Changing World

Back to Indigenous Futures. Co-PIs: Vicente Diaz, American Indian Studies; Katie Johnston-Goodstar, Social Work; Dan Keefe, Computer Science & Engineering; Roxanne Gould, Indigenous and Environmental Education; Virajita Singh, Center for Sustainable Building Research. Intersecting with Fostering Just and Equitable Communities. $324,958 interdisciplinary team award

The Minnesota Model: Building Interdisciplinary Capacity to Defend Human Rights in Challenging Times. Co-PIs: Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Law; Joachim J. Savelsberg, Sociology; Jessica Stanton, Humphrey School; Barbara Frey, Global Studies. Intersecting with Fostering Just and Equitable Communities. $325,000 interdisciplinary team award.

Intersection of Enhancing Individual and Community Capacity for a Changing World and Feeding the World Sustainably

Developing Effective, Scalable Strategies to Address Hunger on Post-Secondary Campuses. Co-PIs: Melissa Laska, Epidemiology & Community Health; Katherine Lust, Boynton Health; Carolyn Porta, Nursing; and Michael Stebleton, Organizational Leadership, Policy & Development. Intersecting with Enhancing Individual and Community Capacity for a Changing World. $324,878 interdisciplinary team award.