Brain & Behavior Research

Brain and behavior conditions are an area of urgent need for research focus due to the burden of disease and health status in our community. Neuroscience, or brain and behavior, research for the School encompasses conditions such as mental health, substance abuse, and blindness.

Substance Abuse

Survey estimates indicate that 439,000 Missouri residents have an alcohol or illicit drug dependency or abuse problem.

Featured Researchers

Xiang-Ping Chu, M.D., Ph.D. serves as an assistant professor of basic medical science and holds a second appointment in the Department of Anesthesiology. His research programs are supported by American Heart Association and University of Missouri Research Board.

John Wang M.D., Missouri Endowed Chair in Anesthesia Research, received a five-year, $1.69-million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to look at the role of glutamate receptors in substance abuse and addiction.


Mental Health

Estimates indicate that 19 percent of Missouri adults over age 25 had a mental illness in the past year, and 209,000 adults had serious mental illness. Approximately 7 percent of adults experienced a major depressive episode in the past year, over 5 percent had serious mental illness, and nearly 4 percent had serious thoughts of suicide.

Featured Researchers

Stanley A. Edlavitch, Ph.D., M.A., F.A.C.E., and Bill D. Geis, Ph.D., professors of epidemiology in the psychiatry department, are part of the mental health research faculty evaluating better ways to identify individuals at high risk for suicide and target preventive interventions. They were funded with a grant from the Health Care Foundation of Kansas City for their work.


Patient Behavior

Compliance  to medical treatment is a large concern in medicine. Looking at behaviors that influence patient compliance is an important area of research.

Featured Researchers

Mary Gerkovich, Ph.D., Julie Banderas, Pharm.D., and Karen Williams, Ph.D., in the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics evaluate patient populations to see factors that influence patient behavior and compliance with treatment, especially those with HIV infections.  They partner with research faculty in the Department of Psychology in the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences to study medication adherence.



Vision research continues to be a priority of research for the School. One in five Jackson County residents report some type of vision impairment, with many of those suffering from debilitating eye conditions that lead to low vision or blindness.

Featured Researchers

Peter Koulen, Ph.D., is a professor and Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research and the director of basic research, Vision Research Center. His novel research approaches target the development of new treatment strategies for disease that cause degeneration or acute damage of nerve cells in the central nervous system and the eye. His team recently discovered self-defense mechanisms of nerve cells that allow the development of one such strategy.