Our office sponsors several collaborative initiatives that advance the research mission and engage interdisciplinary partners from across the University and beyond. 

Advancing Human Research Protections

After a rigorous review and assessment of its human research policies and practices, the University launched a major initiative to enhance its human research protection program through a set of specific program and policy reforms.

Among the changes implemented were expanded Institutional Review Board (IRB) panels to review researchers’ projects with human participants, a new electronic system to streamline and improve the process of submitting projects for IRB approval, enhanced professional training for researchers and their staff, and new tools created in consultation with health advocates to ensure that recruitment of participants, especially those with impaired ability to consent, is done with the utmost respect and protection.

We continue to work with leadership, units, and departments across the University to advance human research protections and cultivate a culture of research ethics.

E4 by Design

E4 in a circular design atop a picture of the Weismann Museum

The E4 by Design program is OVPR's strategic approach to engage and empower employees to tackle challenges within their work environment, execute improvement initiatives, and excel in the delivery of services to the research community. Spearheaded by Thierry Boudet, Executive Director of Organization Optimization, E4 by Design promotes a work philosophy centered on service excellence and provides tools and resources to enhance services and continuous improvement practices. This program is strategically aligned with MPACT 2025’s commitment 5 (fiscal stewardship) goals and priorities such as the PEAK initiative.


Minnesota’s Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy (MnDRIVE) is a landmark partnership between the University and the state of Minnesota. By aligning areas of university strength with opportunity and need, MnDRIVE enhances the University’s ability to produce breakthrough research that addresses our state and society’s greatest challenges.

blue and yellow graphic with an outline of the state of Minnesota: MnDRIVE; Minnesota’s Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy

The Office of the Vice President for Research provides accountability measures for the initiative and serves as an advocate for the program with the state. Each of the research areas have committees and advisory boards to oversee project implementation and outreach. After five years, MnDRIVE research initiatives are showing tangible results, elevating the University's research profile in key areas and connecting with Minnesota's communities and its economy.

Research Ethics Week

Research Ethics Week is the University of Minnesota's annual week-long series of college and department-led educational opportunities focused on professional development and best practices to promote, maintain, and model high standards of ethics and integrity in research. The 2020 Research Ethics Week event takes place March 2 - 6. The annual Research Ethics Conference, held in conjunction with Research Ethics Week, will take place Wednesday, March 4, 2020 in Coffman Theater on the Twin Cities campus.

Strategic Partnerships and Research Collaborative (SPARC)

SPARC engages researchers and practitioners across disciplines in the US and globally to establish new large-scale programs that catalyze collaboration, innovate for new discoveries, and deliver practical new solutions that address these critical challenges. The SPARC initiative is supported by OVPR and GPSAlliance.