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The predoctoral research program of GSSIMR stresses critical thinking and the rapid development of experimental prowess. The program also focuses on in-depth understanding of the latest methodologies and approaches. In an average time of five years from matriculation, predoctoral researchers are expected to develop and execute a research project that addresses a significant biological question, which will result in a Ph.D. in Biology. The program culminates with the expectation that each predoctoral researcher is able to identify interesting biological problems, devise interdisciplinary approaches to those problems, and execute investigations using the best tools available. The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute (GSSIMR) welcomed its first class in the fall of 2012. Each year a new class of predoctoral researchers joins the program.

The Graduate School was created by the scientists of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research to complement the mission of the Stowers Institute, “To make a significant contribution to humanity through medical research by expanding our understanding of the secrets of life, and by improving life’s quality through innovative approaches to the causes, treatment, and prevention of diseases.”

The Stowers Institute for Medical Research was established in 1994 through the extraordinary generosity of cancer survivors James “Jim” E. Stowers Jr., the founder of American Century Investments, and his wife Virginia G. Stowers, who dedicated their personal fortune to improving human health through foundational research. The Stowers Institute opened its doors to the first scientific research teams in November 2000 after completion of its state-of-the-art research facility in Kansas City, Missouri. Currently, Stowers is home to nearly 550 researchers and support personnel (including 100 postdoctoral research associates and 70 predoctoral researchers), 21 independent research programs, and more than a dozen technology development and core facilities. Notable discoveries from Stowers laboratories appear regularly in the leading peer-reviewed journals in biomedicine. Stowers scientists have established the Stowers Institute’s international reputation for highest quality foundational research aimed at finding answers to some of the most important questions of human biology, health, and disease.

The faculty of the Graduate School includes principal investigators, heads of departments, and technology center directors from the Stowers Institute. They have each earned a PhD degree (or equivalent), and are internationally recognized scientists. Each faculty member is considered a leader in their field, and many have developed the methodologies that allow much of the current effort in their respective field of study.


The mission of The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research is to prepare a superb cadre of predoctoral researchers from around the world for the pursuit of innovative and creative investigations in the biological sciences.

The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research will prepare a select group of young scientists whose truly transformative and integrative approaches to research will revolutionize twenty-first century biology.

The program focuses on extending the ability of predoctoral researchers through hands-on laboratory experience that stresses highly critical thinking in combination with in-depth training in the latest methodologies.

The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research (GSSIMR) is designed to provide exceptionally talented predoctoral researchers with mentorship and hands-on experience to refine their abilities to carry out independent biological research. The program emphasizes research as the primary component and seeks applicants with strong records of research as undergraduates and postgraduates. In addition, it is important that the predoctoral researchers come to GSSIMR with a high level of general knowledge and are willing to pursue the growth of that general knowledge on their own time.

The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive learning environment for all. We continually strive to create a culture where predoctoral researchers, research scholars and summer scholars have equal access and equal opportunity regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender or LGBTQ+ identity.

Inside and outside our walls, GSSIMR stands opposed to all forms of discrimination and racial injustice. We acknowledge that the roots of systemic racism throughout society are deep and tangled, and that bias and discrimination still exist within a scientific research community where not all scholars have equal access or recognition. While opposing blatant injustice in the world around us, we remain steadfastly committed to equality within our own program and to the long-term goal of dismantling all forms of discrimination in science.

The School welcomes persons from all backgrounds and beliefs to join our community. We seek to create and foster a sense of community that facilitates the development, both personal and professional, of all our members, including predoctoral researchers, summer scholars, applicants, faculty, and staff.

The School is committed to providing equal opportunities for all persons and does not discriminate or retaliate on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, disability, military status, marital status, or any other status protected by law (“protected status”). This Policy extends to admissions, employment (as set forth in the Equal Employment Policy), housing, services, and in the other educational programs and activities that the School operates (collectively “programs and activities”). Harassment, whether verbal, non‑verbal, or physical, that is based on any protected status constitutes a form of discrimination if it denies or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the School’s programs and activities. This Policy covers employees, predoctoral researchers, summer scholars, applicants for employment or admission, contractors, vendors, visitors, guests, and participants in School sponsored programs and activities (collectively, the “School Community”). (GSSIMR Nondiscrimination Policy 943, 2020)


Caroline M. Kane, Ph.D.

Board Chair, The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research

Professor in Residence Emerita, Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California Berkeley


Dr. Caroline M. Kane retired from the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, in 2008 after nearly 30 years in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology. She is currently a Professor in Residence Emerita, Molecular and Cell Biology. While at Berkeley, she worked with students across the University spectrum: high school, undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral. She was Head Graduate Student Advisor for the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Division for many years and, in 1992, helped found the award-winning undergraduate Biology Scholars Program dedicated to increasing the successes of students from traditionally marginalized backgrounds in science, math and engineering. After retirement, she served as Interim Director of the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program 2014-2015. She has received the Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence, 2007; Leon A. Henkin Citation For Distinguished Service, 2002; Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering Mentoring (awarded to Coalition for Excellence and Diversity in Math, Science and Engineering of which she was Chair 1995-2009), 1998; Award for Distinguished Service, American Society for Cell Biology, 2012; elected a Berkeley Fellow in 2018; and served on the National Advisory Council, National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, 2002-2006. She remains active in promoting the advancement and career goals of students from high school through career entry. She is also very active in issues that impact retirees in higher education, and she has been President, Association of Retirement Organizations in Higher Education, 2017-2019; Chair, Council of University of California Emeriti Associations, 2018-2020; Past President, University of California Berkeley Emeriti Association, 2015-2017. She also is Co-Founder of The Cell: An Image Library, with the American Society for Cell Biology, 2009-2012.

Caroline received her B.S. in Zoology from Ohio University followed by an M.S. in Genetics from North Carolina State University. She received her PhD from the Department of Biochemistry with Professor Stuart Linn at the University of California Berkeley. Her postdoctoral work was with Harold Weintraub at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. She returned to Berkeley in 1991 and remained there for her entire faculty career.

Paulyn Cartwright

Paulyn Cartwright, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Director for the Office for Diversity in Science and Training, University of Kansas


Dr. Paulyn Cartwright is a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas. She also serves as Director for the Office for Diversity in Science and Training. She served as the rotating Program Director for the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems for the National Science Foundation 2020 to 2021.

Paulyn’s research focusses on understanding the evolution and development of marine invertebrates. As a principal investigator she has maintained an active research program for more than 14 years during which time she has mentored graduate students and helped position them for successful research careers.  

Paulyn works to broaden participation in science through the Office of Diversity in Science Training. She coordinates three NIH-funded training programs targeted for underrepresented students in STEM to help them pursue careers in research. She mentors underrepresented minority students as they apply and prepare to transition to graduate school. In addition, she develops and organizes educational enhancement curriculum. Prior to this role, she served as Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology where she managed a graduate program and implemented new policies to lower barriers for participation STEM and increase student success. She also worked to improve the retention of talented diverse graduate students. 

Paulyn received her Ph.D. in Biology from Yale University. Following her degree completion, she was a National Science Foundation Sloan Postdoctoral Fellow in Molecular Evolution at Harvard University and the University of Kansas.


Betty M. Drees, M.D., FACP, FACE

President, The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research


Dr. Betty Drees was appointed as the President of the Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research (GSSIMR) in Spring 2018. She served on the Board of Directors of GSSIMR prior to appointment as president. She is on the faculty at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine where she is Dean Emerita after serving thirteen years as dean (2001-2014) and acting provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs (2007-2008). She is a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics at the UMKC School of Medicine. She is a board-certified endocrinologist who practices at Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, MO. She is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies, and is a Fellow in the American College of Physicians and the American College of Endocrinology. She is the 2020 president of the Kansas City Medical Society. She has been recognized by Ingram’s Magazine as one of Kansas City’s Most Accomplished and Successful Women (2008) and as an Icon of Education (2019).

Betty has served in multiple regional and national roles in education, including the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, Chair of the Governance Council of the American Medical Association’s Academic Physician Section, and Chair of the Missouri State Medical Association’s Commission on Continuing Medical Education. She is currently the Program Director for the UMKC Fellowship in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism. She received teaching awards in the UMKC internal medicine residency and the endocrinology fellowship in 2018 and 2019. She was co-Principal Investigator on a learning collaborative project funded by the National Institutes of Health on building institutional capacity for health equity.

Betty received her medical degree from the University of Kansas and did her residency training in internal medicine and fellowship in endocrinology at the Kansas University Medical Center. Following fellowship, she did postdoctoral research training in the Veterans Affairs Career Development Program. She has received funding through the National Institutes of Health and the Health Forward Foundation on diabetes prevention projects. She was the Principal Investigator for the Kansas City site in the Enhanced Lifestyles for Metabolic Syndrome (ELMS) Multi-Site Trial funded by the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund. She is active in community service in diabetes, including serving as facilitator for a diabetes ECHO (Extension for Community Health Outcomes) funded by the Missouri TeleHealth Network. This project provides outreach to primary care providers to meet professional development needs. She is the immediate past president of the Community Leadership Board of the Kansas City area American Diabetes Association.


Lois M. Nora, M.D., JD, MBA

Professor of Neurology, President Emeritus, and Dean of Medicine Emeritus at Northeast Ohio Medical University


Dr. Lois Margaret Nora is Professor of Neurology, President Emeritus, and Dean of Medicine Emeritus at Northeast Ohio Medical University. Passionate about enhancing health professionals’ education in order to improve the care of patients and the overall health of our communities, Dr. Nora’s career is notable for community engagement and organizational transformation achieved by fostering high performing teams, building consensus and seeking diverse stakeholder engagement.

From 2012-2018, she served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). During her tenure, ABMS championed new models for continuing certification including longitudinal assessment; worked to increase collaborative efforts across the profession to maintain high standards in certification; and expanded international programs. In addition, the organization initiated the “Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future” initiative, establishing a multi-stakeholder Commission that released a final report of comprehensive recommendations for the future of continuing certification in February 2019.

Lois was a 2018 Fellow in the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University where her work focused on accreditation as a lever for positive change in education, both nationally and internationally. While at Harvard, she also continued work on a history of women in medicine through the lens of our systems of medical education and professional self-regulation.

She currently serves on the Steering Committee of the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaboration Clinician Well-being and Resilience, the Advisory Board of the National Center for Interprofessional Education and Practice, and the Board of Visitors of the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy. She has also served as the President of the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, on the US Health Resources and Services Administration Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME, Chair 2018-19), on the Board of Directors of the Association of American Medical Colleges, and as a trustee of the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation.

Her honors include the American Medical Women's Association President's Recognition Award, the Association of Medical Colleges Group on Educational Affairs Merrel Flair Award in Medical Education, the New Horizons Award from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the Phillips Medal of Public Service from the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, and four honorary degrees.

Lois received her medical degree from Rush Medical College, a law degree and certificate in clinical medical ethics from the University of Chicago and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Kentucky.


Nipam Patel, Ph.D.

Director of the Marine Biological Laboratory and Professor, University of Chicago.


Dr. Nipam Patel is the Director of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and a Professor at the University of Chicago. He joined the MBL in 2018 from University of California, Berkeley, where he was Professor and Co-chair of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology. Patel is the 20th scientist to serve as MBL Director since its founding in 1888.

A longtime member of the MBL community, Patel has taught in the MBL Embryology course since 2001 and served as course co-director from 2007 to 2011. He is a leading scholar in modern evolutionary and developmental biology with specific focus on the evolution of body patterning and segmentation, regeneration of the germline, and structural coloration. His scientific expertise encompasses the development of novel, genetic model organisms for biological study, which can reveal much about human biology; and the application of advanced imaging technologies to probe the fundamental dynamics of living systems.

Patel is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been awarded numerous honors, including the Schubert Endowed Chair and the William V. Power Endowed Chair at UC Berkeley, the McKnight Scholars Neuroscience Fellowship Award, and an NSF Predoctoral Fellowship.

Patel received an A.B. in Biology from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Biology from Stanford University.

Carl Rhodes, Ph.D.

Former Senior Scientific Officer, Howard Hughes Medical Institute


Dr. Carl Rhodes is recently retired from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). He began his work there as a Scientific Officer in May 2000. His primary responsibilities included managing the review and evaluation process for more than 350 current HHMI investigators.

Carl earned his baccalaureate degree in zoology with a minor in mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He then entered the graduate program in biology at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, completing the requirements for the Ph.D. in Biology in 1971. Carl then carried out postdoctoral research with Nobel Laureate Dr. Paul Berg from 1971 until 1975, in the Department of Biochemistry at Stanford University Medical Center, holding fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the American Cancer Society.

Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, Ph.D.

Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer, Stowers Institute for Medical Research;
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute


Dr. Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado was appointed Scientific Director of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in 2019. He joined the Institute in 2011 from the University of Utah School of Medicine where he was the H.A. and Edna Benning Presidential Endowed professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy. In addition to being elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences in 2018, he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow with the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Alejandro focuses his research efforts on understanding animal regeneration, particularly of the flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea, which he established as a powerful model system.

Alejandro received a B.S. in Molecular Biology and Chemistry from Vanderbilt University and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Cell Biophysics from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.


The Core Competencies are a set of standards in which predoctoral researchers must demonstrate proficiency prior to program completion. These standards incorporate the mission, vision, program values, and program philosophy into actions that can be assessed and evaluated to ensure GSSIMR graduates are prepared for their next steps in pursuit of innovative and creative investigations in the biological sciences.

Predoctoral Researchers will demonstrate competency in each of these areas upon completion of their degree program.

  • 1. Research Leadership

    Predoctoral researchers will manage a scientific project by identifying significant biological problems, formulating hypotheses, considering a variety of experimental approaches, interpreting data from experiments using knowledge gleaned from literature, and discussing their ideas and results with other scientists.

  • 2. Critical Thinking

    Predoctoral researchers will demonstrate a strong capacity for critical thinking by reading, analyzing, and critiquing scientific articles and by critically assessing scientific talks. Using this knowledge, predoctoral researchers will identify gaps in knowledge and develop questions and experiments to address those gaps.

  • 3. Scientific Knowledge

    Predoctoral researchers will acquire strong scientific knowledge in their area of research and will use evidence from primary literature and laboratory expertise to demonstrate their knowledge of concepts, methods and models, including how they were derived and used. Predoctoral researchers will exhibit a broad basis of knowledge about other areas of research.

  • 4. Experimental Skills

    Predoctoral researchers will independently research appropriate scientific methods suitable for a biological question, devise applicable experiments with controls, execute the experiments in an organized and precise fashion, interpret the experimental results, perform appropriate statistical tests, and troubleshoot experiments as necessary.

  • 5. Scientific Communication

    Predoctoral researchers will communicate their research by writing and presenting. They will write hypothesis-driven research proposals and descriptions of scientific discoveries, such as a scientific manuscript and/or a thesis of their own original research contributions, and develop and refine their own writing through editing. Predoctoral researchers will create and present scientific talks that include an introduction, results and conclusions, effective graphics and slide content, and will respond to scientific questions.

  • 6. Professional & Ethical Behavior

    Predoctoral researchers will conduct themselves professionally and ethically as scientists. They will record and manage data with scientific integrity, comply with safety standards in the laboratory, communicate about situations when they observe unethical or unsafe behaviors by others, and be a collegial and reliable lab member and colleague.

GSSIMR is housed on the 10-acre campus of SIMR in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri. Lectures occur in conference and seminar rooms in the 600,000 square-foot facility, and laboratory work takes place in various laboratories and core facilities.  

The Graduate School’s administrative offices are in a central location within the Research Buildings. The area contains a comfortable space with wireless access in which predoctoral researchers can meet, exchange ideas, and socialize. Also in the area are the R. Scott Hawley Classroom, a place to practice scientific talks, a kitchenette for snacks and beverages, and a work room with printers and office supplies.    

The Stowers Institute's Library provides an organized and readily accessible collection of materials and information needed to meet the institutional, instructional and individual requirements of the predoctoral researchers and faculty. Its holdings include over 300 electronic journals, a vast print journal archive and over 400 field-specific books. Inter-library loan, document delivery, poster printing, and software training are all available in-house. The Library maintains a well-appointed physical location offering a quiet study environment with Wi-Fi and computer access.

Predoctoral researchers may exercise in the Stowers Institute’s fitness center, which is open 24 hours per day. Also available to predoctoral researchers are indoor and outdoor recreation, such as volleyball, basketball, bocce ball, badminton, yoga, and fitness classes. Predoctoral researchers may walk through or relax in the fountain garden on the west side of the campus.

GSSIMR is certified by the State of Missouri to operate as an institution of higher education in the State of Missouri. Authority comes from the Missouri Department of Higher Education. GSSIMR reapplies for certification to operate each year.

The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Higher Learning Commission
230 South LaSalle Street
Suite 7-500
Chicago IL 60604

Phone: 312.263.0456
Toll-free: 800.621.7440


GSSIMR is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, incorporated in Missouri with a primary mission of providing graduate education relating to medical or scientific research, with an emphasis on innovative research techniques. The Stowers Institute for Medical Research (“SIMR”), a Medical Research Organization as defined in the Internal Revenue Code, is the sole corporate member of GSSIMR. GSSIMR and SIMR are members of the Stowers Group of Companies  which is a unique group of interrelated nonprofit and for-profit organizations, each of which pursues different goals in furtherance of a common mission to make a significant contribution to humanity through medical research.