D2D provides a number of important benefits to the University of Minnesota and other participating institutions, investigators, research participants, and the State of Minnesota. Our mission is to:

Promote greater citizen participation in research.

Thousands of Minnesotans of all ages, who would never have come to a university to participate in research, participate on-site at D2D. Thousands more learn of, and participate in, studies conducted elsewhere. Faculty, student, and staff investigators model their enthusiasm for research to children, their parents, and others who may have no previous experience with research. D2D has the potential to create a culture of research participation in Minnesota.

Showcase University of Minnesota research.

D2D provides a very public face for the University that serves several important purposes, including showcasing the breadth and excellence of University research, communicating research results directly to the public, acting as a pipeline to studies conducted at the University, and enhancing the University’s reputation in human subjects research protection.

Support fast, efficient subject recruitment.

In this time of lean research budgets, the ability to meet recruitment goals in a short time span and at minimal cost is critical. Over 60,000 potential research subjects walk through the D2D doors during the fair. Most users have stated that the number of subjects they recruited at the fair would have taken 6 months to 2 years to recruit by other means.

Provide access to a diverse participant pool.

Many University studies recruit primarily from the University community. Fairgoers come from every county and region in the state, providing access to wider cross-section of Minnesotans. About twenty-five percent of D2D participants in 2016 were from outside the 11-county metro area.

Provide the opportunity for unique studies and longitudinal tracking.

The state fair provides numerous possibilities for innovative study designs, including large-scale genomic collections. Many fairgoers return to the fair year-after-year, enabling low-cost, efficient longitudinal follow-up not feasible in other venues. These attributes will attract funding from national organizations.

Promote faculty and student engagement.

D2D benefits both well-established researchers who need rapid pilot data collection for new projects, as well as students and other early stage investigators who seek preliminary data for dissertations or first independent grants. Investigators and their staff have reported that the D2D environment promotes esprit de corps and serendipitous interactions between diverse disciplines. Students love the opportunity to interact with the public, and a large proportion of D2D research has supported student theses. D2D can help students conduct their research more efficiently and graduate on time.

Provide opportunities for cross-University collaboration in subject recruitment.

D2D surveys show that research subjects are highly interested in participating in additional University studies, but don’t know where to find information about participation. This suggests an opportunity for collaboration across the University to more actively promote research opportunities to the public, and to build upon D2D as a point of personal contact with Minnesotans.