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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 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.

Simply put, 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. Our emphasis is on research as the primary component of the program. Indeed, we seek out 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 or are willing to pursue that general knowledge outside of the classroom.

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.


Steve Bellis, Ed.D.

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

Vice President of External Relations and Communications, Stowers Institute for Medical Research


Dr. Steven J. Bellis was appointed Vice President of External Relations and Communications for the Stowers Institute in 2020. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Graduate School of the Stowers Institute since 2018 and is currently the Board Chair. Previously, Steve was at The Pembroke Hill School where he served as Assistant Head of School, Finance and Advancement, from 2001-2007 and Head of School from 2007-2019. While at Pembroke Hill, Steve’s responsibilities included four educational divisions located on two separate campuses. He was founding Board Chair of INDEX, a collaborative of 125 of the leading independent day schools in the United States and was elected chair of the Kansas City Independent Schools Heads Association. Prior to joining Pembroke Hill School, he held a number of senior management positions during a 15-year career at Hallmark Cards.

Steve earned a B.A. degree in history from Kansas State University; an M.B.A. with finance concentration from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a University Fellow and teaching assistant; and an Ed.D. from 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.


Caroline M. Kane, Ph.D.

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 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. This program is now entering its 27th year. 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.

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.


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.

Scientific Director; Investigator, 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.

Philip Silverman, Ph.D.

Former Head of the Molecular and Cell Biology Program, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation


Dr. Philip Silverman recently retired as the head of the Molecular and Cell Biology Program at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City. Post retirement he has served as an Adjunct Professor of Biology in the College of Mathematics and Science at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and in the Honors Program at Oklahoma City University, focusing on teaching the history of science to undergraduates.

Philip received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and did his postdoctoral training as a Fellow of the Damon Runyon Foundation for Cancer Research in the Department of Molecular Biology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. He is a dedicated scientist with many years of service and commitment to  biological research and, more recently, science education. He was an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association and the founding director of The Oklahoma Science Project, aimed at Oklahoma’s rural high school science teachers. He is a member of the American Society for Cell Biology and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

David Welte

Secretary to the Board of Directors, The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research


David Welte serves as the secretary to the Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research Board of Directors. He received his Juris Doctorate in 1968 from Loyola University-Chicago. David was admitted to the Missouri Bar in 1968, the bars of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit in 1982, Tenth Circuit in 1985, and the U.S. Supreme Court in 1982.

David played a pivotal role in the creation of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research and the Stowers Group of Companies and assumed his role as in-house General Counsel in January 2009. Prior to that, he was at Bryan Cave, LLP and, previous to that was a shareholder in the law firm of Polsinelli Shughart where he was one of the founders and served as the firm’s managing partner for 15 years. Currently, Mr. Welte serves on the Board of Trustees and Compensation Committee of the Midwest Research Institute, the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of the Pembroke Hill School, as well as the Board of Directors of the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures. Previously, he served on the Executive Committees and Boards of Directors of the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas City Area Development Council, and Brush Creek Community Partners.


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

  • 1. Identifying and attacking a significant biological problem

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

  • 2. A strong capacity for critical thinking

    Predoctoral researchers will demonstrate critical thinking by reading, analyzing, and critiquing scientific articles. Using this knowledge, they will be able to identify gaps in knowledge and open questions and experiments to address them.

  • 3. Possession of 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 and perform appropriate statistical tests, and trouble-shoot experiments as necessary.

  • 4. Develop a broad basis of scientific knowledge

    Predoctoral researchers will acquire strong scientific knowledge in their area of research and will use evidence from primary literature to demonstrate their knowledge of concepts, methods and models, including how they were derived and used. An ability to exhibit general knowledge about other areas of research is also expected.

  • 5. Demonstrated ability for scientific writing

    Predoctoral researchers 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. They will incorporate the expected contents for each section, include the scientific language necessary for accurate presentation, and will develop and refine their own writing through editing.

  • 6. Ability to make a successful research presentation

    Predoctoral researchers will create and present a scientific talk that includes introduction, results and conclusions. They will use effective graphics and slide contents, will communicate their research effectively, and will be able to answer scientific questions.

  • 7. Understanding of and capacity for ethical behavior

    Predoctoral researchers will demonstrate knowledge of appropriate professional and ethical behavior as a scientist. 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.

The Graduate School is housed on the 10-acre campus of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research 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 a kitchenette for snacks and beverages, a conference room, a place to practice scientific talks, and a workroom 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.

Predoctoral researchers may exercise in the Stowers Institute's fitness center, which is open 24 hours a day. Also available to predoctoral researchers are indoor and outdoor recreation, such as volleyball, basketball, bocce ball, badminton, yoga, fitness classes, and Zumba. 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 a Candidate for Accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission (, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Higher Learning Commission
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Phone: 312.263.0456
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