Recently, research in our department has been the focus of in-depth examinations from an external review requested by the University of Minnesota Faculty Senate and the state legislative auditor. Both reports commented on broader university practices that need to be improved and requested changes specific to the Department of Psychiatry with regard to how we recruit and seek informed consent from potential participants in research studies. We are appreciative of the effort invested by the authors of both reports and welcome the opportunity to continue to improve as a result.

The University of Minnesota Department of Psychiatry faculty and staff are dedicated to excellence in patient care, scholarship and educating future generations of physicians. We take this mission seriously and aspire to apply standards and practices to our work that will make the state of Minnesota proud. Our community is faced with the immense pain and suffering associated with mental illness. This pain affects individuals, their families, communities and treating providers. Our mandate and passion is to relieve the symptoms of mental illness, including those that lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, knowledge of the causes and means of relieving the symptoms associated with mental illness is still quite limited relative to other fields of medicine, and even with the best treatment currently available, we will lose some of those for whom we care.

We deeply believe that conducting sound scientific research is the way to increase knowledge about mental illness so that the associated pain and suffering can be decreased. We have incredible respect for our study participants and we are grateful for their generous decision to participate in research; without them, advances in patient care would not be possible. We are aware that research participation is never without risk and we are committed to doing everything we can to minimize those risks. We as researchers and clinicians recognize that the balance between the risks and benefits of research participation has significantly changed over the past decades and will continue to evolve in the future. Thus, we believe that the long-term protection of human subjects will involve ongoing conversations between researchers, clinicians, patients and the broader community. We are committed to being active participants in these conversations.

Toward that end, we are listening to and grateful for the guidance expressed in the reports and are moving swiftly toward implementing the recommended changes. As a faculty, we are determined to be open to examine issues such as consent and conflict of interest and to expand our perspective through open conversations with the broader community. In addition, we are aware of the stigma and marginalization associated with mental illness and welcome input from patients and families to ensure that we improve our practices in ways that promote acceptance and inclusion. By working toward these goals, we remain committed to our mission to embody excellence in patient care, scholarship and education, and will always endeavor to hold ourselves to the highest standard in its implementation.

The faculty of the University of Minnesota Department of Psychiatry