Health & Life Sciences

Research Focus Areas

University of Missouri-Kansas City:

The Path to Discovery

From basic science to clinical research, bioengineering to technology transfer, UMKC scholars are at the forefront of today’s most important research. At UMKC, interdisciplinary partnerships and intercollegiate collaborations serve as the foundation for addressing today’s health concerns and tomorrow’s discoveries. Two primary examples of interdisciplinary collaborative research at UMKC are located in the Center of Excellence in the Study of Dental and Musculoskeletal Tissues and the Vision Research Center.


The Center of Excellence in the Study of Dental and Musculoskeletal Tissues (CEMT) includes investigators from the UMKC Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Biological Sciences and Computing and Engineering, a translational team that integrates clinical and basic sciences to prevent and treat diseases of mineralized tissue, including teeth, cartilage, bone and muscle. Research at the CEMT focuses on mineralized tissue in regard to obesity, cancer, osteoporosis, bone trauma, aging, metabolic bone disease and disease of oral tissue. Implications of this research can be applied to biomaterials and composite research, medical devices, diagnostics and clinical imaging. It also may be expanded to include veterinary practice and diagnostics and treatment of animal dental and bone disease.

To learn more about the CEMT, visit


The Vision Research Center (VRC), a state-of-the-art facility, is a synergistic collaboration between the UMKC Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, Truman Medical Center, as well as other disciplines and schools, combining clinical and basic research related to the diagnosis and treatment of age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and other ocular diseases. The VRC positions Kansas City to become a national center for eye research where ocular diseases will be studied by top researchers in the country resulting in the seamless transfer of findings into practical use with patients.

To learn more about the Vision Research Center, visit

School of Biological Sciences

The mission of the School of Biological Sciences (SBS) is central to UMKC’s strategic goal to “Lead in the Life and Health Sciences.” The SBS houses more than 30 active research laboratories with faculty members engaging in cutting-edge research, including structural biology, biochemistry, microbiology, molecular cell biology and developmental biology. Its focus on molecular recognition underpins the importance of biomolecular structure and function to cell and molecular biology. A goal of the SBS is to create an infrastructure and environment where premiere research programs exploring fundamental questions in basic biology can be developed and addressed. Annual research funding for faculty research projects exceeds $4 million. State-of-the-art facilities at the SBS include onsite X-Ray crystallography and diffraction analysis, including access to the Advanced Photon Source at the Argonne National Laboratory through membership in the Southeast Regional Collaborative Access Team consortium; high-field nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy; cyro-electron microscopy; gene expression and genomic analysis; protein characterization and dynamics; and mass spectrometry/proteomics.

To learn more about research at the School of Biological Sciences, visit

School of Computing and Engineering

The faculty at the School of Computing and Engineering (SCE) is nationally and internationally known for their research, receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, as well as public and private industry sources. In the area of life sciences, partnerships are being built with the health and life sciences schools at UMKC, the University of Missouri, the University of Kansas and the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute. SCE’s Human Motion Laboratory supports research in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, psychology, nursing, criminology and dance, with its directors investigating musculoskeletal tissue structure and function; tissue interaction and interdependencies; tissue engineering; computational biomechanics; and motor control. SCE researchers also are exploring biomedical signal analysis, biometrics, and physiological system identification using computational intelligence paradigms such as artificial neural networks.

To learn more about research at the School of Computing and Engineering, visit

School of Dentistry

The School of Dentistry (SOD) prioritizes research, and it is part of its mission, to lead the country in developing new concepts and new techniques in oral health. The SOD is known and recognized for its state-of-the-art facilities, testing/evaluation center, and talented, knowledgeable researchers. Department of Oral Biology researchers are investigating ways of improving composite restorations through the development of new materials, studying bone and muscle to determine how they interact and how bone function affects muscle structure. Investigators are also evaluating the impact of radiation therapy on the oral cavity, temporomandibular disorder and diseases such as TB and HIV/AIDS. Since 1996, the Department of Oral Biology has held a T32 Training Grant, the only such grant currently at UMKC. Other research programs at the SOD include the UMKC Center for Research on Interfacial Structure and Properties (UMKC-CRISP) and the SOD Clinical Research Center.

To learn more about research at the School of Dentistry, visit  

School of Medicine

The School of Medicine’s (SOM) biomedical research strengths enable it to provide leadership in research through its well-established and productive partnerships with several clinical affiliates, including St. Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, Truman Medical Center, Children’s Mercy Hospital and the Center for Behavioral Health, which provide outstanding opportunities for translational research. Specific areas of research at the SOM include: statistical genomic analysis — finding causal associations between particular diseases and specific genes; evaluating new measures to prevent and treat the most common types of blindness; determining the impact of treatment, alterations in behavior, and socioeconomic factors on the course of common chronic diseases; the causes and treatments of serious side effects or death after major infection or injuries; changes in brain function that result from drug ingestion as potential targets for preventing or reversing addictive behavior; and diagnosing, preventing and treating cervical cancer.

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School of Nursing & Health Studies

Research at the School of Nursing & Health Studies (SONHS) focuses on issues related to health disparities, particularly for women and children. Research expertise spans a broad range of skills, from basic science to community-based research. Current programs of research include HIV and violence prevention in underserved populations; the cultural context of cancer care; end-of-life palliative care; effects of exercise on cardiovascular health; and muscle fatigue and aging. Its Muscle Biology Research group, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Schools of Nursing and Medicine, with collaborations in the Schools of Dentistry, Pharmacy and Computing and Engineering are investigating signaling pathways in skeletal, cardiac and vascular smooth muscle linked with decline in musculoskeletal function in aging, fatigue, obesity, diabetes, muscular dystrophies and cardiovascular disease.

To learn more about research at the School of Nursing, visit

School of Pharmacy

The School of Pharmacy’s (SOP) faculty research focuses on serving the pharmacy profession in order to meet the community’s pharmaceutical needs, advance the standard of health care and improve the quality-of-life of the populations we serve. The SOP is ranked 17th out of 116 pharmacy schools in National Institutes of Health research funding. Areas of research include the delivery and targeting of antiviral agents; effects of drug and alcohol abuse on pathogenesis of AIDS; mechanisms of hormonal breast carcinogenesis; drug and drug use patterns, i.e. compliance and self-medication; development of new antibacterial agents; environmental, occupational and domestic exposure to toxic substances; diabetes and cardiovascular risk reduction; improving care in hospitals and long-term care facilities; schizophrenia and mood disorders; and chronic pain management.

To learn more about research at the School of Pharmacy, visit

College of Arts and Sciences

Scholars within the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) engage in many different areas of health and life sciences research. In the Department of Chemistry, investigators are exploring the total synthesis of structurally complex, biologically-relevant natural products in the development of anticancer and statin agents and collaborate with researchers at UMKC’ School of Dentistry, University of Kansas, Kansas State and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. In the Department of Psychology, national and international leaders in research focus on areas such as HIV/AIDS, tobacco use, obesity and eating disorders, cancer, neuropsychological functioning and community factors in health.

To learn more about research at the College of Arts and Sciences, visit