Dear friends:

When I became interim dean in April 2019, my charge was to advance research in the School of Medicine. I first asked for descriptions of existing research across the school, creating composites of each participating faculty member. In the following month, we gathered all chairs and senior researchers to begin to work on a strategic plan. Around the same time, campus leaders initiated a strategic planning process for our academic health system. Groups of faculty met over the subsequent months and, with the help of our strategic planning consultants Marty McCormick and Heather Lockard, we created a strategic plan for research.

The major elements of that plan include:

  • Attract & Train Exceptional Talent
  • Trans-disciplinary Collaboration
  • Translational Research
  • Clinical Research
  • Research Structure that Sustains Excellence

Our RISE-UP (Research Investment Strategic Enhancement-University Partnership) initiative creates a high-performing governance and operations structure to strategically hire research faculty to support the NextGen Precision Health columns of cardiovascular, cancer, neurosciences and emerging diseases. Starting with the hiring plans of School of Medicine departments and working with campus partners, these column task forces are creating plans for clusters of new faculty who will build on existing research strengths in the School of Medicine.

Our goal is to build research across the spectrum of clinical translation with infrastructure to facilitate informatics, clinical trials and outcomes research. We have recruited key leaders in these areas and are growing infrastructure to support faculty success.

Our TRIUMPH initiative will support existing faculty with $3 million in competitive interdisciplinary grants to innovate and acquire pilot data to support new applications for federal grant funding. We are also striving to create more collaborations across basic science and clinical departments with new research venues and joint hiring. We believe that bringing together motivated researchers with different perspectives will yield greater success.

The NextGen Precision Health building will open this October and will create not only more modern space for research, but also unique resources in microscopy and imaging technologies. There will also be a large animal vivarium, a clinical research unit and space to create collaborations between wet and dry lab researchers as well as industry partners.

An academic health system provides outstanding patient care and innovative education in the context of that care, both of which should be informed by research that advances that care. We will continue to build upon the strengths of our current work and use our partnership with MU Health Care and the MU campus to advance our mission. We will need the help of all.

Sincerely,

Steven Zweig, MD, MSPH
Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson Dean
Professor, Family & Community Medicine
University of Missouri School of Medicine