About Discovery Themes

Ohio State's Discovery Themes Initiative connects and builds on expertise across six campuses, 15 colleges, 105 departments, and more than 220 centers and institutes at Ohio State. Interdisciplinary teams of researchers have come together to accelerate new discoveries and translate knowledge into practical solutions for meaningful impact. With an emphasis on data-driven solutions, these efforts are supported by the recently established Translational Data Analytics Institute.


The Discovery Themes Initiative is a focused and significant effort leveraging the full strength of Ohio State's teaching, research and outreach excellence to:

  • Further expand our capacity for complex problem-solving to address critical societal needs;
  • Enhance the national reputation and visibility of The Ohio State University;
  • Continuously improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the university's administrative and business processes and structures in ways that enable our students, faculty and staff to fulfill their potential; and
  • Reflect Ohio State's obligation as a modern, engaged land-grant institution with very high research activity, as classified by the Carnegie Foundation.

Guiding Principles

  • The Discovery Themes Initiative must strengthen Ohio State's mission areas of teaching and learning, research and innovation, and outreach and engagement.
  • The Discovery Themes Initiative must align with university advancement priorities, Ohio State's strategic agenda, and university-wide strategic plans.
  • The Discovery Themes Initiative must be characterized by a sense of fairness and inclusion across colleges, departments, and programs.
  • There will be integration and leveraging across all Discovery Themes focus areas.
  • The Discovery Themes Initiative must be a model of interdisciplinarity and transinstitutionality that promotes and enhances broad university collaboration.
  • The Discovery Themes Initiative will build on existing strengths and/or develop new programmatic excellence that will achieve a substantial comparative and competitive advantage.
  • The Discovery Themes Initiative will support existing faculty excellence, building current faculty work into a collaborative experience.
  • Discovery Themes Initiative leadership will embrace a “One University” perspective to encourage university-wide participation in Theme-related teaching, research and outreach; to make recommendations to the provost on resource allocation; and be exemplary stewards of university funds, reputation and values.
  • In partnership with Discovery Themes leadership, the Office of Academic Affairs will provide oversight of and administrative support for the Discovery Themes.
  • New Discovery Themes faculty will be tenured or tenure-track. Hiring will be informed by significant faculty input and will involve a leveraged investment of central and local expenditures.
  • The Discovery Themes provide a focused and significant opportunity to enhance the diversity of Ohio State's tenure-track faculty.
  • Also important to the success of the Discovery Themes Initiative are excellent non-tenure track faculty as well as affiliated staff and students, including clinical and research faculty, associated faculty, program managers, technical experts, administrative staff, post-docs, graduate students, etc.
  • The Discovery Themes Initiative must involve shared investments. All those participating must share and leverage their own investments.
  • Ohio State's investments must be leveraged with external dollars, with a premium placed on transinstitutional collaborative spirit and behavior.
  • The Discovery Themes Initiative will lead to innovation and commercialization.
  • Clear expectations for return on investment (ROI) must be set.
  • Discovery Themes groups will be monitored and held accountable; annual reviews will be conducted; a 2-year review will measure progress and need for adjustment; a 3-year re-evaluation will determine the continuation or sunsetting of a Discovery Themes effort.

To further expand our capacity, we are investing $500 million in NEW talent and resources to strategically complement the expertise of our established faculty. More than 120 new tenured or tenure-track faculty have been hired, and another 80 are expected to be hired by 2020 in the areas of:

Advancing the prevention, detection, and treatment of brain injuries

Integrating food, nutrition and metabolomics for health

Engaging students and connecting faculty in signature scholarship

Working together toward a world free from the threat of infectious diseases

New materials and manufacturing innovation accelerating global sustainability

Integrated science: People, process, and planet

Connecting complex data sets to advance education, business, and communitie