Participate in the Excellence of University Research

The state fair provides unique and innovative studies creating a culture of research participation in Minnesota.

The Great Minnesota Get-Together is finally here–a cheerful end of the summer tradition. Since 2014, the University of Minnesota has been showcasing its research at the fair, which serves several important purposes.

10,000 Families Study

Logan Spector, PhD, is a Professor of Pediatrics and Division Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Research, as well as Co-leader of the University of Minnesota Driven to Discover Research Facility.

Dr. Spector and his team are passionate about understanding well-being and what affects our health. They aim to introduce their study, The 10,000 Families Study, to the public at the Minnesota State Fair.

10,000 Families (10KFS) studies families' health over time in Minnesota. This is a unique study because it is the first large, new cohort study observing Minnesotans’ health in many decades. A cohort study means “we start with a group of people, assess their health and exposures in the beginning, and then we follow them over time to see who stays healthy and who doesn’t,” says Dr. Spector.

The research team are looking for at least two members per family to participate and hopes for intergenerational participation. “We especially encourage larger families to participate at once. The holy grail would be grandparents, children, and grandchildren altogether,” Dr. Spector noted.

They hope to gain information on the influence of family genetics on health and well-being. “We also can look at the intergenerational transmission of risk of disease, which not a lot of people can look at,” Dr. Spector says.

Many cohort studies start when participants are in their 50s or 60s to help determine disease outcomes in the near future. However, this approach doesn’t take into account life course epidemiology.

“Events that happen early in life, and in some cases as early as in utero, can affect your health decades later,” says Dr. Spector. “By starting with a population that has already lived for decades, we lose the ability to look at those earlier life events that can shape one's future health.”

He adds, “We have the ambition of following these families for decades which means our data is going to get more informative and interesting over time.”

The National Institutes of Health is supporting 10KFS with a particular focus on three emerging carcinogens. Dr. Spector says they are specifically looking at whether these carcinogens are risk factors for blood cancers, which are rare and do not get studied often.

The three exposures they are looking at are radon, Glyphosate (an herbicide found in Roundup), and perfluorochlorinated chemicals (PFAS). Additionally, they’re looking at a precursor condition called CHIP, which stands for Clonal Hematopoiesis of Indeterminate Potential.

“A lot of people ask where we got the name and if we’re trying to recruit 10,000 families,” says Dr. Spector. “The number 10,000 resonates with Minnesota because we are the land of 10,000 lakes. We do have the ambition of enrolling 10,000 families, although we recognize that it will take a while to get there; that is our ambition.”

Dr. Spector and his team will be in the Driven To Discover Research Facility located at 1367 Cosgrove Street on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds during these days:

  • Aug. 25: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Aug. 27: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Aug. 28: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Sept. 2: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Sept. 3: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Sept. 4: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

To sign-up to participate or for more information, visit

Calling all STRONG women!

Lindsay Williams, MPH, PHD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Williams is leading a study to get more information from women about their desires and needs for mental health care over the continuum of life.

The research includes everything from menstruation to cancer screening, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and reproductive rights. Dr. Williams and her team aim to look at how all those different events impact women’s mental health and what we as a medical community can do to help women better care for themselves, and subsequently their families, through life’s challenges.

Dr. Williams shared her personal story on what led her to pursue this research. “I lost my son when I was four months pregnant, and it was really hard for me to navigate the mental health crisis that happened afterward.” Her experience highlighted for her how lack of privilege and resources might limit a woman’s ability to utilize mental health services and advocate for themself within the healthcare system.

She adds, “It came from a very personal place, and we expanded that to cover a whole range of women's health issues, but really, it was my own experience that made me want to start STRONG Women.”

Dr. Williams and her team will ask women what they really want regarding mental health care. “We’re trying to understand what women are currently doing [to care for their mental health] and what we can offer them in the future to ensure they stay mentally healthy and have the tools to manage their mental health during pregnancy. Even without a loss, pregnancy is still stressful,” says Dr. Williams.

This is the first year Dr. Williams is presenting her study at the fair. Now, she wants to get a feel for what topics are well received with participants. Then, she aims to identify topics that she can expand on with more in-depth questionnaires in the future.

Fairgoers can participate in STRONG Women by taking a 15-minute survey at their private booth in the Driven to Discover building. Information about local mental health resources will be available, and after completing the survey, fairgoers will receive a complimentary coffee mug.

Dr. Williams and her team will be in the Driven To Discover Research Facility located at 1367 Cosgrove Street on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds during these days:

  • Aug. 25: 2:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Aug. 28: 2:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Aug. 30: 2:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Sept. 4: 2:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.

“The hope would be that we will have a much larger study in the future and a longer survey,” Dr. Williams stated. “We want to bring in women from diverse backgrounds. To fully address women’s mental health, we need to hear from women from all communities, different races and ethnicities because all of us have a different experience and need different types of support.”

Dr. Williams wants to use her research platform to amplify the voices of women from underserved communities concerning mental health and who have a high pregnancy loss and mental health burden.

“I hope to help women from all backgrounds feel like they have a voice. I think as a society, we’re able to talk more openly about women’s issues, particularly pregnancy loss,” she says. “From this study, I hope that we can gain important insight on who’s experiencing losses, how many losses, if women are getting pregnant again, if they have mental health crises following a loss, and if there are places where we can intervene to make their next pregnancy and their future better.”

As Dr. Williams reflected on her study, she shared, “Generally I study pediatric cancer, and to me STRONG Women represents the fact that we can’t have healthy kids without healthy moms. So this is a place for me to try to intervene on mental health for coming generations on an upstream pathway.”