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Precision Medicine Summit starts systemwide conversation around investments and collaboration

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Christian Basi

June 20, 2018

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Today, the University of Missouri System hosted a summit for faculty researchers and medical professionals from across the UM System to highlight the breadth and quality of precision medicine research activities at each of the universities. More than 180 participants gathered for the summit, which included presentations, panel discussions, a working session to discuss grant opportunities and a tour of the Immersive Visualization Laboratory at the University of Missouri Columbia. Fifteen presentations were given by top faculty researchers on important initiatives with the goal to uncover synergies that will lead to effective collaborations and fundamental research systemwide.

“The overarching goal is to translate fundamental research from laboratories to effective treatments and devices,” UM System President Mun Choi said. “The summit illustrates the breadth, depth and quality of our faculty researchers across the UM System and we plan to make investments in equipment and research grants to help them achieve their goals. Rather than having a serial approach, collaborations among our scientists, clinicians and entrepreneurs will accelerate the rate at which technologies reach the marketplace and make an impactful difference for health outcomes.”

“Precision medicine enables the advancement of customized health care treatment through alternative therapies, tumor care and much more,” MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said. “This intersection of bench research and clinical delivery is the future, and we are positioned to be one of the very best centers of innovation driving new discoveries. Advancing precision medicine for the betterment of Missourians and the world is dependent on collaboration across disciplines and institutions. For MU, we have world-class experts focused on neurological, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering among several other critical areas. The key to success with this is having a world-class facility that builds upon each of these specialties where they can gather together to collaborate and innovate. An example of that would be the TPMC at Mizzou.”

The Translational Precision Medicine Complex (TPMC) was selected as the top priority for the University of Missouri System and the four campuses. The objective of the TPMC initiative is to enable researchers and clinicians to collaborate using the most advanced technologies and data analysis tools. This “bench-to-bedside” model will accelerate the development of novel diagnostic tools and treatments and allow for fast-tracking of the application of proven medical strategies to clinical settings.

“The precision medicine initiative is more than just a building project, it’s a call to action throughout the UM System, the state of Missouri and the nation to solve the most pressing health issues facing society,” Choi said. “While MU will lead this effort, they will develop partnerships throughout the UM System, which is poised to bring scientific breakthroughs to clinical applications.”

Chancellors and researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Missouri-St. Louis were part of the dynamic discussion during the summit.

“The precision medicine summit is an important step for the UM System’s journey to global leadership in biomedical research. It provides an important opportunity for collaboration among the leading scientists from our four campuses,” UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said. “UMKC brings to this endeavor not only our emphasis on data sciences but also our clinical health professions schools and our world-class clinical partners such as Saint Luke’s Health System, Children’s Mercy and the UMKC Health Sciences District. This ongoing partnership will produce advances in science and medicine that will benefit Missouri citizens and enhance our state’s stature across the nation and around the world.“

“Our systemwide collaborative medical research benefits from the distinctive strengths each university brings to this initiative,” Missouri S&T Interim Chancellor Christopher Maples said. “During this summit, Missouri S&T’s expertise in developing nanoparticles for drug delivery will be on display as Dr. Sutapa Barua, assistant professor of chemical and biochemical engineering, will share her research on targeting cancer through this method and others.“

"The UM System has tremendous assets across its four universities,” UMSL Chancellor Tom George said. “The Precision Medicine Summit is an outstanding way to showcase those assets and leverage cooperative efforts among the universities and their respective researchers to better serve the citizens of Missouri. We’re certainly delighted to see researchers from UMSL units such as chemistry and biochemistry as well as the Missouri Institute for Mental Health participating and contributing to this collective enterprise."

This was the second collaborative research summit hosted by the UM System. This summit was organized and coordinated by UM System Vice President for Research and Economic Development Mark McIntosh, MU College of Engineering Dean Elizabeth Loboa and Associate Dean of Research, Professor of Bioengineering Sheila Grant, College of Arts and Sciences Associate Professor Christopher Pires, in collaboration with faculty and S&T Vice Provost and College of Engineering and Computing Dean Richard Wlezien, UMKC Vice Chancellor for Research Lawrence Dreyfus and UMSL Vice Provost for Research Christopher Spilling.

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