Research Areas and Disciplines


Areas of Biomedical Research


Immunology is the fundamental studies of the immune system as the genomic, molecular, cellular and physiological level. Knowledge gained from the area directly translates into understanding health and disease. The Center for Immunology is an interdisciplinary research program at the University of Minnesota devoted to advancing the field of immunology and educating future immunologists. Furthermore, the Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology graduate training program in the Medical School provides student trainees to a wealth of research opportunities encompassing the integration of immunity in tumor biology and infectious diseases. The primary objective of the Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology (MICaB) program is to train scientists in the fields of microbiology, immunology and cancer biology, and to equip our students for careers in the numerous scientific fields.

Genomics and Genome Engineering

From bioinformatics to genome engineering to computational modeling, the Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics program (MCDB&G) and the Center for Genome Engineering (CGE) continue to push the boundaries of our understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of life. In particular, the Center for Genome Engineering aim to advance the research and clinical objectives to increase understanding of biological processes and develop ways to successfully modify living cells for many health-relevant and therapeutic applications. CGE technologies are used by investigators around the world for basic and applied biological research.

Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism

The mission of the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism (IDOM) is to enhance research quality by growing multidisciplinary collaborations in diabetes research by creating a rich environment that unites diabetes investigators and learners through enrichment and training opportunities, to provide access to pilot funds, and to make cost-effective animal physiology services available to members of the IDOM. Our goal is to create the environment and infrastructure necessary to support funded diabetes investigators and the integration of their data into our greater understanding of the whole of diabetes.

Microbiology and Infectious Disease

Both the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the University of Minnesota Institute on Infectious Diseases provide an effective training environment to engage in pathogen and microorganism-specific biomedical research. The University of Minnesota Institute on Infectious Diseases (UMIID) was established in 2022 at the University of Minnesota Medical School as the intersection for all areas of infectious disease research at the University. The key goals are to research diseases of pandemic and epidemic potential through collaboration among the University’s basic, clinical, and translational experts, provide training opportunities for physician scientists, partner with industry for scientific collaboration and translate scientific outcomes to the people of Minnesota.  The UMIID has key focuses in antimicrobial resistance and drug development, microbial immunology, molecular surveillance, zoonotic virus infections and HIV medicine. In addition, the Department of Microbiology and Immunology is a community of scholars committed to discovering and disseminating knowledge about the microbial world. Our faculty's interests and expertise encompass some of the most exciting areas of contemporary microbiology and immunology, ranging from the physiology and development of microorganisms, the molecular pathogenesis of infections, and fundamental aspects of immunity.

Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

The Developmental Biology Center (DBC) is a group of some 50 faculty who share an interest in the processes that create the form and function of the biological world around us. At the heart of developmental biology lies a search for the mechanisms that specify cell fates, control patterning in complex tissues, and organize collections of diverse cells into organs. Deciphering these mechanisms requires many approaches, including cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and neurobiology. These areas are reflected in the interests and research efforts of our faculty.

In conjunction with the Center, the Department of Genetic, Cell Biology and Development (GCD) spans biological disciplines, including the storage and expression of information (genetics), its translation into the workings of individual cells (cell biology), and the assembly of cells into tissues and organ systems (development). The clear vision for the department is: 1) integration of methods and ideas across disciplines, 2) collaborative projects that assemble the people required to achieve that integration, and 3) strategic use of model systems that provide the most powerful experimental access to important biological and medical problems. With GCD's uniquely diverse expertise, these approaches allow the Department to build upon innovative basic science and to translate fundamental discoveries into direct benefits for society as a whole.

Neuroscience and Behavioral Sciences

The Institute for Translational Neuroscience (ITN) was established in 2007 as a University-wide presidential initiative to promote the transfer of discoveries in the basic neurosciences to clinical practice. The institute is charged to enhance basic science discovery with new knowledge leading to subsequent clinical trials and establishment of new therapeutic principles or tools. The Center's main goals are to attract and recruit top scientists, graduate students and postdoc trainees to shape discoveries that will lead to tomorrow's cures. The institute exemplifies how different disciplines, departments, and centers can work together in partnership to evolve neurological disease research at the University of Minnesota. We have built a community that encourages learning, education, innovation, and discovery all of which are more successful in a team-oriented environment.

In this innovative approach, the institute forms a strong, supportive foundation that enhances neurological disease research and treatment while tapping into the four thematic areas of the institute:

  • neuroengineering
  • diagnostic imaging/magnetic resonance research
  • neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases
  • memory research and care.

In tandem, the Department of Neuroscience further solidifies commitment to providing excellence in research, education and public services in the areas of neuroscience and behavior sciences. With over 70+ graduate students and 40+ postdocs, the Department of Neuroscience's graduate and postdoctoral training initiatives are unparalleled in scope and impact. Furthermore, neuroscience faculty have a wide range of interests and expertise and receive over $22,000,000 in external funding annually. The department is consistently ranked in the top 10 of Neuroscience departments in NIH funding by the Blue Ridge Medical Institute.

Pharmacology and Molecular Therapeutics

The Department of Pharmacology at the University of Minnesota has a chief goal to generate new knowledge and tools that can lead to better treatments for human medical problems. The well-funded research programs of Pharmacology primary faculty members focus on understanding and developing better treatments for cancer, addiction and the opioid crisis, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, autoimmune disorders and metabolic syndromes. The Department serves as the administrative home for the Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics Graduate Program (MPaT) and trains students in professional degree programs (MD, DDS, and MD/PhD). Additionally, the Department provides individualized training experiences for our strong community of postdoctoral scholars. Past trainees are now applying their skills to impactful careers in academia, medicine, industry, government, law, and regulatory oversight. The Department continues to prepare the next generation of scientists for rewarding careers in the health sciences and related professions, and for the various other ways we give back to our community.

Institute for Engineering in Medicine and Biomedical Engineering

The Institute for Engineering in Medicine (IEM) research collaborations aim at the development of innovative engineering solutions for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. The continuing mission is to advance healthcare through research partnerships between faculty in the health sciences, faculty in the College of Science and Engineering, and the biomedical industry.

Although situated in the College of Science and Engineering, the Medical School is proud to work with the Department of Biomedical Engineering collectively to develop novel and innovative tools and applications to address a wide-range of medical needs. In particular, The Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at the University of Minnesota conducts innovative research, offers high-quality education, and has strong connections to the thriving Twin Cities medical device industry. The mission is to conduct pioneering, high-impact research spanning basic science to clinical and technological application, educate the next generation of trailblazers who will define new paths based on fundamental training and emerging knowledge and accelerate and augment impact through our unique proximity to the biomedical industry and adjacent clinical medicine.

Cardiovascular Sciences and Lillehei Heart Institute

The Lillehei Heart Institute was built twenty years ago on the legacy of University of Minnesota icons who created a culture of innovation and discovery. Today, established investigators work together with the next generation of young investigators to advance scientific discovery in the development of cardiovascular disease therapies and to provide training and education for our future cardiovascular scientists and physicians. The mission remains to serve as the world's premiere campus for education and research dedicated to cardiovascular health. The chief goals are to pave a clear path to cure heart disease, with the following objectives: detect disease at its earliest stages, stop the progression of disease as early as possible, educate the public on ways to prevent heart disease and encourage preventive care, eradicate congenital causes of heart disease and develop cures in the treatment of established heart disease

In conjunction, the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology faculty, staff and trainees are constantly evolving and forever forward-looking, seeking to harness the best new approaches and tools to understand biology and life. The Department's dedicated mission centers on integrative systems biology of the heart and vasculature, including the close linkages among cardiovascular diseases and obesity, diabetes and metabolism at the whole animal level. The department is ideally positioned to bridge basic science discoveries to clinically relevant applications, spanning from academia to our neighbors in the biomedical industry. 

Stem Cell Biology and Tissue Restoration

The Stem Cell Institute’s (SCI) vision is to use stem cell biology to change the practice of medicine through discovery, education, and translation. The researchers and faculty of the SCI explore the science of stem cell biology with the purposes of responding to the medical needs of today and educating the researchers of tomorrow.

Stem Cell Institute fast facts
Established in 1999, the Stem Cell Institute within the Medical School at the University of Minnesota is the first interdisciplinary institute in the United States dedicated to stem cell research.

The Stem Cell Institute:

  • Draws together 54 investigators from 25 collaborating University departments to participate in stem cell research
  • Targets five primary diseases: diabetes, heart disease, neurological disorders, musculoskeletal diseases and inherited disorders
  • Has an Innovation Core that includes a biobusiness incubator, robotics facility, and iPSC core
  • Is affiliated with a large-scale cell processing facility (MCT)
  • Is supported by UMN infrastructure to move research into the clinical setting (CTSI, Technology Commercialization)
  • Has an ongoing relationship with The Isthmus Foundation which is dedicated to developing new stem cell-based treatments
  • Offers a Master's program in Stem Cell Biology
  • Hosts Weekly Wednesday Research Seminar and Journal Club
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics is committed to understanding the molecular mechanisms of metabolic diseases and cancer; developing novel strategies in biocatalysis and biotechnology; and advancing knowledge through structural biology and molecular biophysics. Organizational wise, the research disciplines emphasize: Chemical and Structural Biology, Metabolic and Systems Biology, Molecular Biology and Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology. Furthermore, the Department supports three main Core facilities, a high field NMR Core with associated 800 MHz and 600 MHz spectrometers, an X-ray crystallography facility with high throughput capability and a Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Core with MALDI-TOF and Electrospray capability. 

Drug Discovery

The Center for Drug Design (CDD) was created to combine research and scholarship leading to the development of novel drugs for therapeutic applications, such as HIV, cancer, neurological diseases, dermatological agents, infectious diseases, novel processes, and medical devices. The Center for Drug Design combines the best of academic tradition along with an expectation of innovation and independence, and provides significant value for our academic and research community.

The Center for Drug Design (CDD) is a distinctive, cutting edge research facility in the Academic Health Center of the University of Minnesota and is dedicated to:

  • Providing a research environment for leading scientists
  • Sharing unique strategies within the scientific community
  • Developing novel drug therapies
  • Vigorously pursuing an academic research agenda
  • Transferring scientific knowledge
  • Designing and developing new medicines to benefit people worldwide
  • Supporting the interaction of many disciplines and areas of study
  • Creating a focal point for research
Magnetic Resonance Research

Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR), funded as a Biotechnology Research Center (BTRC) by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) until 2012 and by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) since then, focuses on development of unique magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and spectroscopy methodologies and instrumentation for the acquisition of structural, functional, and biochemical information non-invasively in humans, and utilizing this capability to investigate organ function in health and disease.

CMRR is home to some of the most advanced MR instrumentation in the world, complemented by human resources that provide unique expertise in imaging physics, engineering, and signal processing. No single group of scientists can successfully carry out all aspects of this type of interdisciplinary biomedical research; by bringing together these multi-disciplinary capabilities in a synergistic fashion, facilitating these interdisciplinary interactions, and providing adequate and centralized support for them under a central umbrella, CMRR amplifies the contributions of each of these groups of scientists to basic and clinical biomedical research.

Clinical and Translational Institute (CTSI)

CTSI is part of the prestigious Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program, which aims to get interventions to patients and populations more quickly and enable research teams to tackle system-wide problems in clinical and translational research. The continuing mission is to accelerate discoveries towards a better health.  Over the past 12 years, CTSI has contributed to and collaborated with a national network of more than 60 medical research institutions who work together to improve the translational research process to get more treatments to more patients faster. Through their collaboration, researchers have opportunities to address system-wide scientific and operational problems in clinical and translational research that single teams can’t overcome.

Women's Health

The Center for Women's Health Research is an interdisciplinary research career development and training program at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus. The program was formally offered through the Powell Center for Women’s Health.  We have re-branded to better reflect the consortium of training programs we coordinate. The Program coordinates multiple scholar awards including an NIH-funded K12 Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Program (BIRCWH), and Aging Women's Health Research Scholar which is funded by the Mature Women’s Health Endowment.

The goal of the Center for Women's Health Research at the University of Minnesota (UMN) is to improve the health of diverse women across the lifespan and, by extension, to improve the health of their families and communities in Minnesota, the nation, and the world through::

  • Increase the number of interdisciplinary research leaders advancing scientific knowledge in women’s health across the lifespan and in sex/gender determinants of health.
  • Transform the academic environment by increasing the visibility of interdisciplinary women’s health and sex/gender determinants research within academia and the broader community.
  • Effect the timely applications of women’s health research findings to practice and policy.
Global Health Research

At the University of Minnesota’s Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility, the mission is to advance health world-wide through collaborative partnerships, sustainable programs, and academic excellence—and do it in a socially responsible, equitable way. To achieve these ambitious goals, the Center serves to support global health research at the University of Minnesota as well as through diverse networks around the world. The Center work with global partners to build capacity for ensuring the health of their communities in the long term and to champion interdisciplinary education that helps to advance professionals—at home and abroad—who will improve the health of our world.