Read the latest edition of MU Medicine magazine.

Summer 2021 MU Med cover
ON THE COVER:
The NextGen Precision Health building is slated to open in October. The 265,000-square-foot facility will be home base for a University
of Missouri System initiative to deliver more translational medical research that improves the lives of
people in the state and beyond.

Research

The study of T cells has shaped the career, family and friendships of Diana Gil Pagés, who is developing a treatment to alert the immune system to cancers it has been ignoring.
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Russ Waitman, an informatics expert and prairie chicken enthusiast, is helping MU scientists get better at the
clinical research dance.
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Giving

Thomas Cooper, a retired doctor from the country, and Michela Fabricius, a medical student from the city, share a special bond.
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Murphy Mastin, one of the original graduates of the Springfield Clinical Campus, plans to return to Missouri to
practice medicine.
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Education

When Abdoulie Njai sees a need, he springs into action. In the past year, he led efforts to start a Common Read program at the School of Medicine and led outreach efforts to encourage members of Columbia’s Black community to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
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The PAWS program prepares students like Mikella Vermaire to become competitive medical school applicants.
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MU Adapts Medical Education to Meet COVID-19 Challenges
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Letter from the Dean

Steven Zweig, Dean
Steven Zweig, Dean

In the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how the School of Medicine can best expand our research efforts in ways that advance the goals of the University of Missouri System’s NextGen Precision Health initiative and also best serve our state.

Like all medical school deans, I aspire for our school to grow NIH-funded research and climb the Blue Ridge Institute rankings. But I’ve also been thinking about what we can do that the schools at the top of those rankings can’t. Unlike many academic health systems, we’re located in a college town rather than a large city, and our patient base is predominantly rural. Nothing would please me more than to see our scientists and clinicians work together to create more innovations that benefit our rural population.

I want to emphasize that our significant new investment in research is enhanced by the NextGen Precision Health building going up next door, but we can’t take our eye off our other missions of clinical care and education. Clinical growth remains incredibly important. It’s the way we’re going to sustain our research growth. Similarly, we’re not going to have good training and educational programs if we don’t have good clinical experiences for our students. It’s all interrelated. We are well-positioned to balance those missions because the School of Medicine and MU Health Care now collaborate on a shared strategic plan, with an executive vice chancellor for health affairs, Richard Barohn, MD, who oversees both operations.

We have a shared vision of what an academic health system should be. It’s a system where expert care is provided to patients, and there’s teaching and training done within that expert care. It’s also where innovation, scholarship and research drives continuing benefits to the patients who are cared for in that system. When that happens, we’ve created a flywheel of innovation and success. The NextGen Precision Health initiative is a key piece of that. It provides us the opportunity to do more of the research and innovation that enables us to fulfill our mission as an academic health system.

Steven Zweig, MD ’79
Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson Dean
University of Missouri School of Medicine

Letter from the EVC

Richard J. Barohn, MD
Richard J. Barohn, MD

We are all extremely excited for the grand opening of the NextGen Precision Health building in October. This facility is a tremendous commitment by the University of Missouri System to make translational health research a priority to benefit the residents of Missouri and beyond. We have identified 15 current scientists, many of whom are School of Medicine faculty, who will move into the facility over the next few months. In addition, new faculty will be joining us from across the country, such as the new radiology and imaging faculty that Department of Radiology Chair Talissa Altes has been recruiting. Many of them will bring in federally funded research.

However, we should remember this — NextGen is more than a building. The building is certainly the most visible evidence of our pursuit of research excellence. Our goal has always been to have facilities throughout MU and our systemwide campuses in Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis to be part of NextGen research investigations in many ways. Our leadership is setting up important mechanisms by which all our scientists, who are engaged in precision health research across the spectrum, can form successful teams. As we successfully recruit new scientists to join this initiative, I will be letting you know periodically about them and what they bring to NextGen. I am certain you will be impressed with our personnel and the team science they produce.

Richard J. Barohn, MD
Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
University of Missouri