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 basic 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 basic 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 a Candidate for Accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org), a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Higher Learning Commission
230 South LaSalle Street
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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.