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Research

The Future of Health Care, Now

Medical advances belong in the hands of doctors, patients and the greater community, not on a laboratory shelf. The NextGen Institute accelerates precision health research and development by coordinating the work of scientists, clinicians, community organizations, industry leaders and federal and state agencies so that they can work together to streamline the process of developing solutions for patients faster.

Basic and Emerging Research

Basic and emerging research starts the path toward transformative treatments and accessible health care solutions. The University of Missouri has built the foundations of an integrated research pipeline that will rapidly translate basic and emerging research into clinical applications and new technologies across a wide spectrum of health care specialties.

Basic and emerging research efforts include:

  • Comparing and validating the results of human RNA sequencing methods
  • Developing “smart” bandages that provide feedback to help heal wounds
  • Defining critical physiological and genetic pathways that regulate the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy
  • Utilizing big data to trace more effective vaccination strains and understand how viruses transmit between animals and humans
  • Expanding understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind plant diseases in crops
Thomas Spencer photo

Dr. Thomas Spencer serves as the Basic and Emerging Research Lead. Dr. Spencer is a professor of animal sciences and obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the School of Medicine.

More about our basic and emerging science work

Cancer Research

Every hour more than three new cases of cancer are diagnosed in Missouri. University of Missouri investigators are developing new ways to prevent, find, image and treat cancers with drugs and patients’ own immune systems to transform the future of patient care.

Cancer research efforts include:

  • Treating leukemia with small molecule inhibitors and fewer side effects
  • Fighting liver cancer by manipulating bacteria in the gut
  • Developing personalized cancer vaccines and tumor immunotherapies
  • Targeting delivery of cancer inhibitors directly to the tumor site
  • Creating new tools to diagnose cancer earlier and faster
  • Producing and supplying essential radioisotopes for life-saving radiopharmaceuticals 
Jeffrey Bryan photo

Dr. Jeffrey Bryan serves as the Cancer Research Lead. Dr. Bryan is a professor of oncology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the associate director of comparative oncology at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center at MU Health Care.

More about our cancer work

Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders Research

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and accounts for nearly 15,000 deaths per year in Missouri. MU investigators are using state-of-the-art high-resolution imaging, mechanical measures and computational modeling to develop diverse, patient-based strategies for treating heart failure and metabolic and vascular diseases.

Cardiovascular and metabolic disorders research efforts include:

  • Pioneering discovery of the mechanisms that cause progressive heart failure and vascular diseases associated with obesity, diabetes, hypertension and stroke
  • Developing new clinical trials to improve health outcomes of diabetic patients
  • Exploring strategic nutritional, lifestyle and pharmacological interventions to improve quality of life
  • Development of noninvasive diagnostics for patients' heart and vascular function
  • Leveraging technology to make patient well-being the focus of care
  • Modeling heart function with newly available computational programs
  • Studying comparative biology in mice to understand human cardiovascular and lympatic function
Kerry McDonald photo

Dr. Kerry McDonald serves as the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders Research Lead. Dr. McDonald is the Margaret Proctor Mulligan Professor of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology at the School of Medicine.

More about our cardiovascular & metabolic disorders work

Health Care Delivery Research

Health care delivery research embodies the vision of translating evidence into practice. NextGen seeks to rapidly develop better strategies to bring more effective treatment to patients. Continuing to cultivate clinical relationships across the UM System will deliver better care and create new cost efficiencies for U.S. healthcare, elevating the value of our research.

Health care delivery research efforts include:

  • Implementing the ePRISM® tool, which helps physicians personalize patient care and reduced rates of bleeding and acute kidney injury by 40-80% in partner hospitals
  • Understanding the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine, through a real-world lens
  • Evaluating new pharmacological and behavioral interventions for treating smoking addiction
  • Five-minute brain exams that reduce the need for sedation, enabling opportunities in pediatric and PTSD research
  • Virtual MRI cockpits that allow patients to benefit from imaging expertise that has previously been unavailable to rural hospitals
John Spertus photo

Dr. John Spertus serves as the Health Care Delivery Research Lead. Dr. Spertus is an endowed chair and professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and clinical director of outcomes research at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute.

More about our health care delivery work

Neuroscience Research

Many Missourians are affected by nervous system disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases, sleep disorders and addiction. NextGen neuroscientists are developing new ways to use brain imaging and neural devices to understand and treat brain disorders, as well as train the next generation of neuroscientists.

Neuroscience research efforts include:

  • Identifying over 48 disease-causing mutations in companion animals
  • Predicting brain disease using innovative deep imaging techniques
  • Understanding the progression and neuromuscular effects of Duchenne's muscular dystrophy
  • Making fundamental connections between neuron activity, heart rate and blood pressure
  • Developing diagnostic microdevices for mental health disorders
  • Integrating addiction research with community engagement through the Missouri Center on Addiction Research and Engagement (MO-CARE)
David Schulz photo

Dr. David Schulz serves as the Neuroscience Research Lead. Dr. Schulz is a professor of biological sciences in the College of Arts and Science.

More about our neuroscience work

Population Health Research

Health is the result of a combination of genetics, lifestyle and environment. The Precision Health Initiative seeks to incorporate a wide range of information from across population groups to gain insight into the best preventative, therapeutic and diagnostic solutions. With this level of understanding, health professionals can help citizens more efficiently prevent conditions before they occur.

Population health research efforts include:

  • Exploring how individuals perceive and manage risk for developing health problems
  • Identifying how environment, lifestyle and genetics influence the spread of infectious diseases
  • Developing large-scale approaches and systems to create an infrastructure to leverage the efforts of our campus partners, such as MU Extension, the Center for Health Policy, the Telehealth Network, the Tiger Institute, the Center for Applied Research and Environmental Systems, and the School of Medicine's Rural Scholars Program, to name a few
  • Addressing the developmental origins of disease, including the role of genetics, family and lifestyle characteristics on obesity, autism risk, infant mortality and health disparities
  • Overcoming health disparity challenges including gaps in policy
  • Using informatics to direct decision making, health promotion and disease prevention
Julie Kapp photo

Dr. Julie Kapp serves as the Population Health Research Lead. Dr. Kapp is an associate professor of health management and informatics in the School of Medicine.

More about our population health work

George Smith speaking to audience at Nobel Prize event

Breakthrough Foundational Research

Dr. George Smith’s phage display research paved the way for the first FDA-approved fully human monoclonal antibody. The drug treats rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis and other autoimmune conditions. Smith shares a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering work at the University of Missouri.