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RESEARCHERS & INNOVATION CENTERS

We are committed to protecting and supporting medical research and entrepreneurial efforts that are founded on medical research. We believe it’s essential to protect and grow Missouri’s research environment in order to attract and retain the best and brightest talent to our research facilities and innovation centers.

It is important for us to recognize and support the efforts of medical researchers and entrepreneurs across the state. By hosting events to showcase their research and ongoing work, we promote innovation in Missouri. Our educational mission allows us to partner with leading researchers to present cutting-edge work to local audiences throughout our state.

This Month’s Featured Researcher

Dr. Agca

June 2020

Dr. Yuksel Agca, Associate Professor of Veterinary Medicine at University of Missouri Columbia

We are excited to introduce Dr. Yuksel Agca as our feature researcher. Dr. Agca is an Associate Professor of Veterinary Medicine at University of Missouri Columbia. He and his team of researchers induced menopause in rats to study cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease with hormone depletion. According to Dr. Agca, “These animal models can be useful for future testing to examine the impact of a variety of other factors, such as alcohol, smoking, diet, exercise, hypertension or previous traumatic brain injuries.” Learn more about his work here.

Previous Featured Researchers

May 2020

This month we featured three WISER women fighting COVID-19

Dr. Philip Payne

April 2020

Dr. Philip Payne, Director of the Institute for Informatics (I2) at Washington University and Professor of Computer Science and Engineering

Dr. Philip Payne is the founding director of the Institute for Informatics (I2) at Washington University, where he also serves as the Robert J. Terry Professor and Professor of Computer Science and Engineering. The Institute of Informatics is doing critical work to help guide the State’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and building a rapid response to public health data management. In addition, Dr. Payne is part of the leadership team building a national synthetic data COVID-19 resource. You can follow him on twitter @prpayne5 and learn more about his work here.

Dr. Tom Curran

March 2020

Dr. Tom Curran, Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Children’s Research Institute, Children’s Mercy, Kansas City

Dr. Tom Curran has been working on the frontline of cancer research and developmental neurobiology for more than 30 years and continues to contribute as a scientist, administrator, leader and mentor in the research community. In 2016, he became the Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Children’s Research Institute, Children’s Mercy, Kansas City with the ambition of establishing a world class center for pediatric translational research. His goals for the Children’s Research Institute are to develop a strong focus on pediatric translational research and developmental therapeutics throughout the region. Learn more about him and the Children’s Mercy Research Institute here.

Dr. Enrico Di Cera

February 2020

Dr. Enrico Di Cera, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Dr. Enrico Di Cera was recently named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his distinguished contributions to science. Dr Di Cera, who is the Alice A. Doisy professor and chairman of the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at SLU, is being recognized for his key contributions to the theory of ligand binding and to the structural enzymology of proteins controlling blood coagulation. He is also the Interim Vice Dean for Research at Saint Louis University. Learn more about his work here.

Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D.

January 2020

Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine –Biomedical and Health Informatics Department

Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., is a professor in the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine –Biomedical and Health Informatics Department. She is also the director of the Community Health Research Group, the director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute, and adjunct faculty in the Department of Psychology at UMKC. Her expertise is in using community-engaged approaches to test and disseminate evidence-based health screening and linkage to care interventions focused on HIV/STDs/Hepatitis C, diabetes, heart disease, and mental health in community settings. She is dedicated to engaging students and community-health-academic partnerships along with underserved populations to address health disparities using novel scalable and sustainable methods. She recently spoke at one of our Brews & Breakthroughs. Find out more about her work here!

Dr. Walter Gassmann

December 2019

Dr. Walter Gassmann is Interim Director at the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri

Dr. Walter Gassmann is Interim Director at the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri. The Bond Life Sciences Center at MU allows researchers to form collaborations rarely seen on college campuses to solve problems in human and animal health, the environment and agriculture. Dr. Gassmann’s research focuses on the inner working of plant immune systems. In particular, he is interested in how it is activated, and how it is kept in check to prevent harmful side effects from an overactive immune system. Learn more about his work here.

Fran Sverdrup, Ph.D.

November 2019

Fran Sverdrup, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Saint Louis University

This Month, we’d like to introduce you to Fran Sverdrup, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Saint Louis University. He and his team are working on finding a way to shut down the toxic protein that leads to facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), an illness that starts with facial, shoulder and upper arm weakness and eventually affects nearly all skeletal muscles of those with the disease (full story linked above).

Dr. Sverdrup was motivated to search for a cure for FSHD after his own daughter was diagnosed with the illness. His research suggests a way forward in developing the first treatment or cure for FSHD. You can learn more about his groundbreaking work here.

Jeffery Gordon

October 2019

Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, Distinguished University Professor of Pathology & Immunology, Biology and Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine

Meet Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, Distinguished University Professor of Pathology & Immunology, Biology and Molecular Microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine, and Director, Edison Family Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology.
Dr. Gordon’s outstanding work on studying how gut microbes could make processed foods healthier is a highlighted in a featured article above. His lab’s focus is on the role of the gut microbiota in defining our nutritional status.
You can learn more about his team and his fascinating work here.

September 2019

Rochelle Henderson,Vice-President, Health Services Research, Express Scripts

Dr. Henderson oversees Express Scripts’ clinical product evaluations and publishes applied research in peer reviewed manuscripts. She has 24 years of experience in health services research and has conducted pharmacoepidemiologic and pharmacoeconomic research. Today, she uses that experience to focus on the economic evaluation of drug therapies. We are proud to feature Dr. Henderson as a panelist at our 2019 WISER St. Louis Conference.

Learn more about her work here.

August 2019

Jaya Ghosh, Program Director of the Coulter Biomedical Accelerator at the University of Missouri

Jaya Ghosh is the Program Director of the Coulter Biomedical Accelerator at the University of Missouri, a training and grants program proven to accelerate the translation of biomedical innovations from bench to bedside. Jaya is also an Adjunct Faculty of the MU Trulaske College of Business, and a Program Manager for the BioComX/NIH Concept to Clinic: Commercializing Innovation (C3i) Program. Most recently, she was the Assistant Program Director of the MU-Coulter Biomedical Accelerator. Prior to that, she was the BioDesign and Innovation Fellow at the University of Missouri. Jaya holds a BE degree in Instrumentation & Control Engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology in India, and a PhD in Bioengineering from MU.  Learn more about her work here.

July 2019

Toni Kutchen, Ph. D., Vice President for Research and, Oliver M. Langenberg Distinguished Investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Toni Kutchen, Ph. D. serves as Vice President for Research and is the Oliver M. Langenberg Distinguished Investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Research in Dr. Kutchen’s lab is aimed at elucidating the biosynthetic pathways of selected medicinal compounds in plants and developing improved sources of these chemicals. The lab investigates how plants make special chemicals called natural products. These chemicals frequently are used as medicines, either as pure compounds by pharmaceutical industry, or as mixtures in traditional medicines. Recently, her lab discovered a way to produce life-saving opiate antidotes at a fraction of the cost. You can read more about her fascinating research here.

Innovation & Life Science Organizations

Raising the visibility of our region to attract founders and startups.