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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.


Steve Bellis, Ed.D.

Board Chair

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

Dr. Steven J. Bellis joined Pembroke Hill School in 2001 as Assistant Head of School, Finance and Advancement, and became Head of School in 2007. While at Pembroke Hill, 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 positions during a 15-year career at Hallmark Cards. At Hallmark, he had roles that included financial analysis, inventory control, business services management, product development, marketing, and new business capability start-up.

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

Dr. Betty Drees serves as President of the Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. Betty is an esteemed physician and educator who has more than 25 years in clinical practice, research, education, and administration. She is Dean Emerita and the immediate past dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine. She served thirteen years in that role, from 2001-2014. Among her many honors, Betty 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 has been recognized by Kansas City’s 435 Magazine (2014) and the Kansas City Business Journal (2013) on their Best Doctors lists, by Ingram’s Magazine as one of Kansas City’s Most Accomplished and Successful Women (2008), among MidwestCEO’s Influential Women (2009), and in Kansas City’s Influential Women: Inspiration and mentorship from the women who make Kansas City great, Susan Greenberg, editor (2010).

Betty received a BA degree in biology from Wichita State University and an MD from the University of Kansas. She continued her training at the University of Kansas Medical Center with a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in endocrinology and metabolism. Betty serves as an endocrinologist and a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics at UMKC. She is learner-focused and committed to helping predoctoral researchers meet their career goals and supporting them as they prepare for their future in science.

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. Dr. Sánchez Alvarado focuses his research efforts on understanding animal regeneration, particularly of the flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea, which he established as a powerful model system.

Dr. Sánchez Alvarado 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.

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.

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 Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City. Post retirement he is currently serving as an Adjunct Professor of Biology in the College of Mathematics and Science at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

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 the field of biological research. He is the founding director of The Oklahoma Science Project and is a member of the American Society for Cell 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
230 South LaSalle Street
Suite 7-500
Chicago IL 60604

Phone: 312.263.0456
Toll-free: 800.621.7440