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The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research names new Dean

Jennifer Gerton, Ph.D., assumed the role of Dean on July 1, 2024

02 July 2024

Kansas City, MO – July 2, 2024 – The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research announces the appointment of Jennifer Gerton, Ph.D., as its new Dean. Gerton, an esteemed Investigator at the Stowers Institute and current faculty of the Graduate School, brings a wealth of foundational research experience and a passion for mentoring the next generation of scientists.

Gerton joined the Stowers Institute in 2002 and has made significant contributions to the fields of molecular and cellular biology. Her research focuses on chromosome organization and segregation and how these features of chromosomes contribute to human diseases such as cancer, infertility, and birth defects. Gerton holds an undergraduate degree in Human Biology and a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology, both from Stanford University.

Most recently, Gerton’s research team has played a significant role in the Telomere-to-Telomere (T2T) consortium, a multi-institutional, international effort which resulted in the first complete human genome sequence, a massive step forward in human genomics.

As the new Dean, Gerton is enthusiastic about shaping a robust curriculum that encourages early career researchers to ask bold questions in the life sciences. "I am thrilled to take on this new role and to have the opportunity to guide and inspire our predoctoral researchers,” said Gerton. “The growth and achievements of the Graduate School and our graduates in such a short time is truly remarkable and it is an honor to now help ensure its success continues into the future."

The announcement of Gerton’s appointment comes shortly after Matt Gibson, Ph.D., former Dean of the Graduate School and Investigator at the Institute, was named President. Gibson assumed his role on July 1, 2024, following the retirement of current President Betty Drees, M.D., FACP, FACE.

"Jennifer is an exceptional leader and mentor," Gibson said. "Her dedication to scientific research and education aligns perfectly with the mission of the Graduate School. I am confident that our Graduate School will continue to produce outstanding scientists who are equipped to tackle the most pressing challenges in the biological sciences today."

“The Graduate School distinguishes itself by the excellence of our education, including an exceptional faculty and research environment,” said Drees. “With our new leadership in place, I feel confident the Graduate School and our predoctoral researchers will continue to flourish.”

The Graduate School at the Stowers Institute is located on the 10-acre life science campus of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Missouri. The school is a vital part of the scientific community of the Stowers institute established through the altruism of Jim and Virginia Stowers, who founded the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in the late 1990s. Their generous contributions continue to provide financial support for the school. Predoctoral researchers come from far reaches of the world to conduct curiosity-driven research and pursue a PhD in biology alongside 31 faculty members who are investigators and scientists at the Stowers Institute.

"This is an exciting time for our institution," said Gibson. "Together, we will build on our successes and further equip our predoctoral researchers with the confidence and skillset to ask the most bold and impactful questions that exist in biology today.”

“The Stowers Institute provides an amazing combination of financial, intellectual and technical resources that allow early career researchers to dream big and make substantial discoveries,” said Gerton. “I hope to guide students on a path that enables them to take full advantage of the opportunities available at this outstanding institution and beyond.”

About the Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research

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 educational program stresses critical thinking and the rapid development of experimental prowess. The program also focuses on in-depth understanding of the latest methodologies and approaches. The Graduate School is designed to provide predoctoral researchers with mentorship and hands-on experience to refine their abilities to carry out independent biological research. The Graduate School welcomed its first class in the fall of 2012, and in 2016 the first predoctoral researcher completed the PhD program. The Graduate School is certified by the State of Missouri as an institution of higher education and has institutional accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission.

The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute currently enrolls 48 predoctoral researchers in its Ph.D. program. These researchers engage in a comprehensive curriculum that includes module courses, laboratory rotations, and thesis work, all of which contribute to their development of a substantial body of research in their chosen field. To receive their doctoral degree, Graduate School predoctoral researchers must demonstrate competency in each of the following six areas upon completion of the degree program: research leadership, critical thinking, scientific knowledge, experimental skills, scientific communication, and professional and ethical behavior. Throughout their tenure, predoctoral researchers actively contribute to the scientific community by publishing in peer-reviewed journals and regularly participating in scientific meetings and seminars. The program's structure, combining rigorous coursework with hands-on research experience, ensures that graduates are well-equipped to make significant contributions to their fields and tackle complex biological questions. This immersive experience not only advances their research but also prepares them for future careers as independent scientists.

For more information about the Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research and its programs, please visit

Media Contact:

Joe Chiodo, Head of Media Relations

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