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Stowers’ vision becomes a dream for scientists

The Stowers Institute puts the focus on the work, not finding money, and has built local life sciences culture in the process.

27 May 2022

Image courtesy of Adam Vogler and James Dornbrook, Kansas City Business Journal.

The Stowers Institute Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer, Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, recently sat down with the Kansas City Business Journal to discuss the legacy of the Institute and why scientists travel from across the world to study science in Kansas City.

Below is an excerpt from the article. Read the full version here.

When the late Jim and Virginia Stowers formally established the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in 1994, it marked a game-changing moment for life sciences in the Kansas City area.

It had strengths in life sciences before — as home to three medical schools and research programs at a number of area universities and hospitals. But the Stowers Institute attracted the attention of some of the brightest minds in the U.S. and the world.

Beyond attracting researchers by offering a unique financial structure that let them focus more on their work and less on chasing grants, the institute became a powerful new partner to show Kansas City’s dedication to life sciences. It also attracted graduate students seeking mentors and a world-class laboratory, and it creates partnerships with some of the finest institutions of higher learning in the United States.

“You know, it was believed by many that this kind of activity was not something that could be done in the Midwest, that it could only be done on the coasts and never in Kansas City,” said Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, executive director and chief scientific officer of the Stowers Institute. In 22 years since the institute’s labs officially have been operating, he said, it is clear not only that the experiment worked, but that Kansas City made it possible.

“Our investigators come from at least 50 different countries, and when they come to Kansas City, the people here open their arms to them and make them feel at home,” he said. “They don’t have to worry about missing home because this place is unloving and uncaring. It’s quite the opposite. So there is a lot to be said that the institute has succeeded on its own merit, but it has also benefited from an incredibly supportive community.”

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