Introducing Kansas City's new
Health Sciences District
A cooperative partnership formed by 12 neighboring health care institutions on Hospital Hill.

What is it?

The UMKC Health Sciences District was formed in May 2017 and strives to be a premier academic health district, engaging in cutting-edge biomedical research and entrepreneurship, delivering state-of-the-science health care, and educating the next generation of health care professionals.

Health Care Partners

  • University of Missouri-Kansas City and its
    • School of Medicine
    • School of Dentistry
    • School of Nursing and Health Studies
    • School of Pharmacy
  • Truman Medical Centers
    • University Health
  • Children’s Mercy
  • Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department
  • Missouri Department of Mental Health Center for Behavioral Medicine
  • Jackson County Medical Examiner
  • Diastole Scholars’ Center
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City




What is its purpose?

The UMKC Health Sciences District brings together health care partners in the Hospital Hill area. Working as one, they will create new potential for collaboration on research, grants, community outreach and shared wellness for employees, faculty, students and surrounding neighborhoods.

The UMKC Health Sciences District represents a new chapter in advancing health care, outreach and medical education throughout greater Kansas City.




Check out a series of Training Tips Tuesday videos to help registered participants prepare for the 2018 Hospital Hill Run.

  • University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • School of Medicine
  • School of Dentistry
  • School of Nursing and Health Studies
  • School of Pharmacy
  • Truman Medical Centers
  • University Health
  • Children’s Mercy
  • Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department
  • Center for Behavioral Medicine
  • Jackson County Medical Examiner
  • Diastole Scholars’ Center
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City

UMKC Health Sciences District Map


UMKC Health Sciences District By the Numbers

Fall 2019






Residency and Fellowship Programs:


Residents and Fellows:


Degree Programs:




External funding:

Research Faculty have attracted external funding totaling:

Outpatient Visits:


District Events

Follow our calendar to keep up with events and activities of the UMKC Health Sciences District and its members.

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
CMH Grand Rounds 8:00 am
CMH Grand Rounds @ CMH Adele Hall Auditorium
Jan 2 @ 8:00 am – 9:00 am
CMH Faculty Development Micro-Session: Finding Your Personal Passion 12:00 pm
CMH Faculty Development Micro-Session: Finding Your Personal Passion
Jan 8 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Micro-Session: Finding Your Personal Passion – Identify personal motivators – Review how to create meaningful goals personally and professionally – Discuss strategies for building relationships that will support your passions
IM Noon Conference: Rheum – Rheumatoid Arthritis, Dr. Warner 11:30 am
IM Noon Conference: Rheum – Rheumatoid Arthritis, Dr. Warner @ UMKC School of Medicine Theater B
Jan 14 @ 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
CMH Faculty Development: Micro-Session: Writing Competency-Based Reference Letters 12:00 pm
CMH Faculty Development: Micro-Session: Writing Competency-Based Reference Letters
Jan 14 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Micro-Session: Writing Competency-Based Reference Letters – Define competencies, milestones, and entrustable professional activities in academic medicine – Explain the importance of crafting letters using these terms – Compare the key features of effective vs. ineffective[...]
Pause for Paws 11:00 am
Pause for Paws @ UMKC School of Medicine 2nd floor
Jan 22 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Pause for Paws @ UMKC School of Medicine 2nd floor
Students can find the therapy pets at Week of Welcome in January! Starting a new semester can be stressful, so come enjoy the company of therapy pets.
Health Sciences Dean’s Seminar Series: 3D Printing with Microspheres for Bone Tissue Engineering Scaffolds 12:00 pm
Health Sciences Dean’s Seminar Series: 3D Printing with Microspheres for Bone Tissue Engineering Scaffolds @ UMKC School of Medicine, Theater C
Jan 29 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Stefan Lohfeld, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Oral and Cranioficial Sciences UMKC School of Dentistry 3D Printing with Microspheres for Bone Tissue Engineering Scaffolds January 29, 2020 Noon – 1 p.m. School of Medicine, Theater[...]
Mental Health First Aid Day 8:30 am
Mental Health First Aid Day @ Truman Medical Centers Behavioral Health
Jan 31 @ 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Mental Health First Day is a Metrowide event to promote Mental Wellness in Kansas City. Each of the 7 Community Behavioral Health Centers providing services in Metropolitan Kansas City will be hosting a Mental Health[...]
Trivia Night 5:00 pm
Trivia Night @ UMKC School of Medicine Theater B
Jan 31 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Trivia Night @ UMKC School of Medicine Theater B

View Calendar

In the News

The UMKC Health Sciences District, consisting of 12 partner institutions, is committed to sharing news of collective and individual partner efforts to enhance and expand health care research and community outreach throughout Kansas City and the surrounding region.

UMKC pharmacy students do their part to immunize Missouri against influenza

Tis the season for colds and flu. And this fall, UMKC School of Pharmacy students were again busy battling the bug.

Third-year pharmacy students participate each year in a pharmacy practice experience that includes learning to administer immunizations. This year, that experience involved administering 2,676 flu shots to patients at 59 immunization events throughout Missouri.

This is the eighth year the School of Pharmacy has been part of the flu shot initiative. It started in 2011 as a collaborative effort with the University’s Healthy for Life wellness program to administer the shots to faculty and staff.

“We have enjoyed an excellent collaboration with Healthy for Life,” said Val Ruehter, Pharm.D., BCPP, director of experiential learning. “In Kansas City, we also collaborate with Children’s Mercy Hospital, where we participated in flu shot clinics for its ‘Family and Friends’ program.”

The collaborations expanded this year in Kansas City to include Hy-Vee Pharmacies, where students assisted with in-store clinics. In addition, immunization events were held at the John Knox Village retirement community.

Students at the Springfield campus collaborated with Alps Pharmacies and its locations in local businesses, and senior assisted living and nursing care centers; and Walgreen’s and its locations in local businesses, schools, and veterans and homeless charities. Clinics were also held at both Lawrence Drug and Sunshine Health Mart for patients at these pharmacies.

Students from all three UMKC School of Pharmacy campuses participated. In Kansas City, students participated in 14 immunization events and administered 1,453 flu shots. Springfield campus students participated in 44 events and gave 930 shots. And students from the Columbia campus administered 293 immunizations.

“These collaborations engage students in a variety of activities and allow us to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and impact that pharmacists can have on community health and wellness,” Ruehter said. “Our students were well-prepared, engaged and represented themselves as knowledgeable health care professionals.”

All vaccines are administered by students are given under required protocol with oversight by a physician. Certified immunizer faculty members take the lead in managing the protocol and supervising the student training and immunization events.

The regional American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists organization honored the UMKC School of Pharmacy earlier this year with an Operation Immunization chapter award. It recognized the extraordinary contributions pharmacists provide to improving vaccination rates in their communities. The UMKC chapter received the national recognition in 2012, as well.

UMKC Health Professions Students and Coterie Theatre Have Important Message for Kansas City Teens

Gus Frank begins to share his story with a group of Kansas City teenagers. For about 20 minutes, he describes how this local high school basketball player discovered that he is HIV-positive and must now live with consequences.

But the story is not really his own. It is, however, the unnerving and true story of a Kansas City teen whose life has been dramatically changed forever.

Frank is actually a fourth-year medical student at the UMKC School of Medicine acting in the production, “The Dramatic STD/HIV Project.” The partnership brings together health professions students from UMKC, the University of Kansas and Coterie Theatre actors to provide Kansas City teens with the facts about sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.

“Some of the highest STD rates are among our youth and young adults ages 15 to 24. Education, knowledge and prevention are an important step in changing this risk to our youth.” – Stefanie Ellison, M.D., faculty at the UMKC School of Medicine and medical director on the project

In the roughly hour-long program — a 15- to 20-minute scripted presentation followed by an often-intense question-and-answer period — a professional actor from the Coterie pairs with a medical, pharmacy or nursing student to discuss the dangers of the diseases with audiences from eighth grade through high school.

“We’re there to inform the youth of Kansas City,” said Frank, now in his second year with the project. “We’re not doing this to tell them what they should do, but to inform them of the facts. We want them to be able to make their own informed decisions when the time comes.”

Evolution and impact

Joette Pelster is executive director of the Coterie Theatre and a co-founder of the project. She started the program with the theatre’s artistic director Jeff Church, an adjunct theater instructor at UMKC, and Christine Moranetz, then a faculty member at the University of Kansas Medical Center. That was 26 years ago when the AIDS epidemic was at its height, becoming the one-time leading cause of death among Americans ages of 25 and 44.

Wanting to create an educational program with credibility, Pelster reached out to the local medical community for help. She first enlisted aid from the University of Kansas School of Nursing. The UMKC School of Medicine joined the program in 2004, followed by the UMKC School of Pharmacy in 2008 and the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies in 2015.

“We wanted to do something that would have an impact,” Pelster said. “A lecture wasn’t going to do it. This was a perfect partnership because their weakness was our strength. We brought the acting, they brought the medical content and credibility. That’s why it’s lasted so long.”

“We’re there to inform the youth of Kansas City. We want them to be able to make their own informed decisions when the time comes.” – Gus Frank, a fourth-year medical student at the UMKC School of Medicine in his second year of acting in the program

UMKC faculty members Stefanie Ellison, M.D., at the School of Medicine and Mark Sawkin, Pharm.D., at the School of Pharmacy, serve as medical directors. They provide the actors with training on such things as current trends in infection rates, symptoms, testing and treatment. They also compile and routinely update a huge binder loaded with information to prepare the actors for what might be thrown at them during the question-and-answer portion of the program. Each actor has a copy of the binder that is updated throughout the year and training updates occur at least twice a year so that troupe members have current facts to share with at- risk students.

“UMKC was very influential in our talking about STDs because the incidence rate was rising so high,” Pelster said. “They are integral to the project and training for the question-and-answer periods that are vital to the project.”

“This is still relevant 25 years later,” Ellison said. “Some of the highest STD rates are among our youth and young adults ages 15 to 24. Kansas City has an increased incidence of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis. Nationally, one in five new HIV diagnoses is in patients ages 13 to 24, and 20 percent of new diagnoses are among patients from ages 14 to 19. Education, knowledge and prevention are an important step in changing this risk to our youth.”

The production

Since 2008, the program has averaged more than 210 presentations a year in junior highs and high schools throughout the Kansas City Metro area. Through last school year, it had been presented 4,495 times, reaching more than 194,000 Kansas City teenagers.

This year’s cast includes 14 UMKC medical students, two UMKC pharmacy students, one UMKC nursing and health studies student, two University of Kansas nursing students and 17 professional Coterie actors, one a graduate of the UMKC theatre program.

“I would share with them that this (prescription) is something you’ll have to take the rest of your life; you’re stuck with it. Just being able to embed that in their memory by telling these kids was really helpful.” – Krista Bricker, a fourth-year UMKC School of Pharmacy student who was among the cast of student actors a year ago

Every presentation pairs one male and one female of different ethnicities, helping to make the team more relatable to its audience. Each actor follows one of six different scripts to present the true story of a Kansas City teen that has contracted an STD or HIV/AIDS.

The productions require little theater other than the actors’ monologues, slides projected on a wall or screen behind them and music to help present each story. They take place in intimate settings of a single classroom of maybe 15-20 students to auditoriums filled with as many as 100 or more students. The actors say the small classroom sessions sometimes produce the most intense interactions because the students in their smaller, tight-knit setting become less inhibited during the Q&A periods.

“It feels like we’re talking student to student,” said Madison Iskierka, also a fourth-year medical student. “It doesn’t feel like you’re sitting in a lecture listening to someone preach about whatever you’re learning. It’s very personal and I like that.”

Frank admits feeling some early awkwardness when talking about such a sensitive subject with a young audience. But that faded after a few presentations.

“It’s something that we need to make not weird,” he said. “We need to destigmatize all the sexual education about HIV and all other STDs. If we could make those things something that is easier to talk about and comes up in conversation more often, it would probably make people more aware and more willing to get tested and get treated if they do have something.”

The actors are trained to hit on a list of key points during the question and answer sessions to highlight abstinence as the only sure way to avoid contracting infections, as well as discussing risky behaviors and sources of transmitting the diseases.

“We wanted to do something that would have an impact. A lecture wasn’t going to do it. This was a perfect partnership…we brought the acting, they brought the medical content and credibility. That’s why it’s lasted so long.” – Joette Pelster, executive director of the Coterie Theatre and co-founder of the project

Krista Bricker, a fourth-year UMKC pharmacy student, was among the cast of student actors a year ago. She said she often leaned on her pharmacy background and honed in on the medications when sharing the hard reality of what is involved for patients living with these diseases.

“I would share with them that this is something you’ll have to take the rest of your life; you’re stuck with it,” she said. “Just being able to embed that in their memory by telling these kids was really helpful.”

Frank reflects on the story of the local teen he portrays. He is determined to get the details as perfect as possible during each presentation because if not, he says, “I’m messing up someone’s personal story.”

And for the young people hearing that story, Frank has one more message: “This could have been anyone. It could have been your classmate. It could have been you.”

Original story link here

Written by: Kelly Edwards

UMKC researcher part of $1.5-million NIH grant-funded project on novel tissue-preservation technique

Surgeons world-wide currently perform more than 240,000 corneal transplants a year to address a wide range of eye diseases. Researchers and physicians, however, estimate as many as 10 million patients could benefit from the procedure if enough viable tissue was available.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City Vision Research Center is part of a $1.5-million National Institutes of Health grant-funded project exploring the capability of a novel, ultra-fast technique of cryopreservation that could help meet those far-reaching clinical needs in ophthalmology and a number of other fields of medicine.

The NIH awarded a phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to CryoCrate, a Columbia, Missouri-based company active in biomedicine working with the University of Missouri-Kansas City Vision Research Center. The new two-year award is for $1,566,168 and includes a subcontract of $722,870 to UMKC’s Vision Research Center. It is a follow-up grant to previous phase I SBIR funding from the NIH for earlier collaborative work between CyroCrate and UMKC.

With current techniques, many types of cells and tissues, including cornea tissues, cannot be preserved at all or lose their function when subjected to the freeze-thaw process of cryopreservation. Peter Koulen, Ph.D., professor of ophthalmology, endowed chair in vision research at the UMKC School of Medicine and director of basic research at the UMKC Vision Research Center, and Xu Han, Ph.D., president and Chief Technology Officer of CryoCrate, jointly developed a new cryopreservation technique to preserve the viability and functionality of cornea and bioartificial ocular tissues. The new phase II SBIR funding will allow Han and Koulen to extensively test and refine the technology before taking it to the clinics.

Thus far, traditional methods of cryopreservation have been unsuccessful to preserve and store human corneas for use in patients due to the fact that cells critical for cornea function are lost during freezing. Corneas need adequate numbers of such cells to be present and properly functioning in the grafted tissue for the surgery to be successful. This currently limits storage of corneas to refrigeration, which is insufficient in delaying the deterioration of cornea tissue beyond a few days and creates numerous clinical challenges shared by other areas of transplantation.

CryoCrate is headquartered at the Missouri Innovation Center. It commercializes a new cooling method that better preserves tissue in a frozen state with only negligible mechanical damage to the tissue. The technology is co-developed and co-owned by CryoCrate and UMKC. It also eliminates the need for so called cryoprotectants, chemicals that facilitate successful recovery of live tissue from freezing, but pose a range of medical and regulatory challenges. International patents pending and patents by CryoCrate and UMKC protect the technology and will enable CryoCrate and Koulen’s team at UMKC to address the urgent worldwide clinical needs and rapidly evolving fields of transplantation medicine.

The new NIH SBIR phase II grant allows Han and Koulen to further develop an upgraded system that is equally effective in the cryopreservation of whole corneas and large bioartificial tissue. This would enable long-term storage of the tissues and could make them more readily available when and where needed for clinical use and research.

Early tests at the UMKC Vision Research Center detected no statistical difference in the number and quality of the cells that determine cornea health and function, when comparing corneas cryopreserved using the new technology with fresh cornea tissue. This level of efficiency in preserving corneal tissue has not been achieved previously with traditional corneal cryopreservation techniques.

If further tests prove to be equally effective, the goal is to introduce the new cryopreservation products for clinical use in patients following completion of the new NIH SBIR phase II grant and subsequent regulatory steps of product development.

Published: Nov 13, 2019

UMKC Researcher Helps Discover New Strain of HIV

First time a new subtype of HIV-1 has been discovered since 2000


Carole McArthur, M.D., Ph.D., of the UMKC School of Dentistry, was part of a team of scientists who discovered a new strain of HIV.

The new subtype is referred to as HIV-1 Group M, subtype L—and is part of the Group M viruses that are responsible for the global pandemic, which can be traced back to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“In an increasingly connected world, we can no longer think of viruses being contained to one location,” said McArthur, one of the study authors. “This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to outthink this continuously changing virus and use the latest advancements in technology and resources to monitor its evolution.”

In order to determine whether an unusual virus is a new HIV subtype, three cases have to be discovered independently. The first two for this subtype was discovered in 1980s and 1990s and this third was collected in 2001 but difficult to sequence until now.

Today, technology allows researchers to build entire genomes at higher speeds and partnering scientists at Abbott had to develop new techniques in order to confirm the discovery.

“This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to outthink this continuously changing virus and use the latest advancements in technology and resources to monitor its evolution.” – Carole McArthur, M.D., Ph.D.

Mary Rodgers, Ph.D., one of the Abbott scientists who co-authored the study with McArthur, said identifying viruses like this one are like searching for a needle in a haystack; however, with new technologies it feels as though they are now “pulling the needle out with a magnet.”

“This scientific discovery can help us ensure we are stopping new pandemics in their tracks,” she said.

Abbott’s Global Viral Surveillance Program monitors HIV and hepatitis viruses, specifically, to ensure the company’s diagnostic tests remain up to date. And now that this new strain has been identified, they are able to detect it.

You can read the full release here.

The study was published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS).

Published: Nov 8, 2019


Kansas City Researcher Earns National PCORI Engagement Award

Kansas City Researcher Earns National PCORI Engagement Award

Funds will support an easy-step program to encourage at-risk communities to take charge
of vascular health, starting with a first public event on Nov. 13


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Nov. 6, 2019) — Local researcher Kim Smolderen, Ph.D., was recently approved for a funding award of nearly $300,000 through the Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards program, an initiative of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) based in Washington, D.C. The funds will support a two-year program to encourage at-risk members of the Kansas City community to take charge of their vascular health.


Dr. Smolderen, Associate Professor in Implementation Science at the University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine and Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute Outcomes Research Scientist, will lead the engagement project. This latest phase builds on an earlier project, also funded by PCORI*, that studied a group of patients’ quality of life as they navigated care for a new diagnosis of peripheral artery disease (commonly known as PAD). Patients from the Kansas City area and across the U.S. were enrolled.


As part of this first project, Dr. Smolderen and her research team developed patient education tools, including an online decision aid called Show Me PAD. The new engagement project will take their messaging about PAD a step further and will focus directly on community involvement and reaching members of the community most at risk for peripheral artery disease.


To this end, the team has worked to develop key partnerships with local community organizations and the City of Kansas City, Mo. This engagement project will engage residents of Kansas City’s Paseo Gateway neighborhood, which is also the recipient of a Choice Neighborhood grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to revitalize the area and improve quality of life.


“PAD affects 8.5 million Americans. It narrows the arteries of the legs, can cause pain while walking, and is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Data from the American Heart Association shows that inner-city neighborhoods are especially at risk of late diagnosis, and if PAD goes untreated, it can lead to amputation,” Dr. Smolderen explains. “We want to reach people where they live and get their input on ways to make a meaningful impact on their health.”




Kansas City Community Invited to Town Hall

The program will kick off December 5, 5-7 p.m., with a community town hall meeting at the Mattie Rhodes Center Northeast Office, 148 N. Topping Ave., Kansas City, MO 64123.


“We invite all members of the community to participate and provide input,” Dr. Smolderen said. “Among several engagement activities as part of this effort, we will discuss a community art project that will serve as a visual expression of the importance of vascular health, as well as provide ways for people to learn about PAD, testing and different treatments available.”


To learn more about the project and the kickoff event, visit



Background on the PCORI Award

According to Jean Slutsky, PCORI’s Chief Engagement and Dissemination Officer, “This project was selected for Engagement Award funding because it will involve stakeholders in actively disseminating PCORI-funded research results to those who can use this information to inform healthcare decisions. We look forward to working with Dr. Smolderen, UMKC and Saint Luke’s Hospital throughout the course of this two-year project.”


Dr. Smolderen’s work and the other projects approved for funding by the PCORI Engagement Award Program were selected through a highly competitive review process in which applications were assessed for their ability to meet PCORI’s engagement goals and objectives, as well as program criteria. For more information about PCORI’s funding to support engagement efforts, visit


PCORI is an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund comparative effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence needed to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions. PCORI is committed to seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.




For more info on Dr. Smolderen’s program:


This program is funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (EA #14505).



*IP2 PI000753-01; CE-1304-6677

Health for All Remains an Elusive Goal

Community leaders discuss UMKC efforts to close gaps


From left: Rex Archer, Mary Anne Jackson, Eric Williams, D. Rashaan Gilmore and Bridget McCandless. Photo by John Carmody, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications.


Health equity is a broad concept that encompasses differences in disease and mortality rates, and in access to healthcare services, among different population groups. It also includes differences in social determinants of health, such as poverty, exposure to toxins and access to healthy food.UMKC leadership quantifying and addressing these differences was the focal point of the UMKC Engagement Showcase, the university’s signature event celebrating Engagement Week – a special week of engaged leadership, partnership and learning hosted by UMKC and the UM System.The event included a demonstration of the System’s new online Engagement Portal and a panel discussion on health equity led by the director of the new UMKC Health Equity Institute, Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., of the UMKC School of Medicine.Engagement with community partners by the UM System and its four universities is hardly a new phenomenon. Curt Crespino, UMKC vice chancellor for external relations and constituent engagement, noted that UMKC history is rooted in an enduring city-campus partnership.Marshall Stewart, chief engagement officer for the UM System, said what’s new is a more systematic and coordinated approach to engagement, including a transformation of the system’s Extension programs, designed to expand engagement beyond Extension’s original rural focus to forge engagement partnerships in every community and corner of the state. “Urban and rural communities are facing very similar issues across Missouri. Our mission is to work together with all of our stakeholders to expand our impact by using our research to help transform lives,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “That spirit of connection to the city and engagement with our community was woven into the origin story of UMKC. And we are excited to take those efforts to the next level in collaboration with the efforts being led by the system.”Following are excerpted highlights of the health equity panel.

Jannette Berkley-Patton, director, UMKC Health Equity Institute:

“We spend billions on healthcare but are still one of the unhealthiest countries in the world.” The burden of health disparities rests primarily on groups outside the mainstream, including people of color, rural communities, veterans and seniors. Large federal grants allow for the creation of effective programs, “but what happens when the grant ends? Everything goes away. We need to figure out how to take the Cadillacs we create with these million-dollar grants and turn them into Pintos.”

Rex Archer, director, Kansas City Health Department:

“We need to change the structural issues that create the (health equity) problem.” These include issues with disparities in housing, poverty, education, safety and more.

Mary Anne Jackson, interim dean, UMKC School of Medicine:

In 2014, the Kansas City area had to contend with a large outbreak of a serious respiratory illness among school-age children. Researchers were notified early enough to identify the virus responsible and contain the outbreak. “We were able to address this in time because of the strong connections we have with people in the community who brought it to our attention.”

Eric Williams, pastor, Calvary Temple Baptist Church:

Conducting funerals for victims of gang violence and AIDS led Williams to involvement in public health. “Conversations about HIV were happening, but it was all on the down-low. (Berkley-Patton) helped us to understand that some of the things we were already doing were working” to change behaviors.

Rashaan Gilmore, founder and director, BlaqOut:

BlaqOut surveyed gay African Americans about their health care priorities, and the top response was health care access. “It was because they didn’t feel welcomed by traditional providers. We asked them to recommend strategies to address that, and we developed interventions based on those results.”

Bridget McCandless, former president and CEO, Health Forward Foundation:

After 15 years working in a free health clinic, she changed her approach from providing care to impacting policy “because I saw that policy could be far more effective.” Citing a sampling of dramatic health disparities between local white and black populations, she said “there’s no excuse for us to have disparities like that.” Data analysis can empower highly effective strategies if we act on the findings. “We’re getting smart enough to figure this out. (Data-driven policy) can be the new germ theory; it can revolutionize the delivery and effectiveness of health care.”

Published: Oct 28, 2019

UMKC School of Dentistry Unveils State-of-the-Art Training Lab

Simulation lab is the newest in the U.S. — and among the largest

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry now includes a new state-of-the-art training lab for students, thanks to a multimillion-dollar makeover. The dental simulation lab is among the newest in the U.S. — and the largest.

Before: first-and-second-year dental students worked on mouth models attached to metal rods, each euphemistically referred to by students as a “head on a stick.”

Now: 110 fully-equipped, ergonomically-correct work stations feature head-and-torso simulated patients. Each also includes water for rinsing and suction– like a real dental operatory.

“The lab is spectacular,” said Marsha Pyle, dean of the UMKC School of Dentistry, who has been advocating for the lab renovation for years. “This will give our students more real-life experiences before performing dental care on people.”

The students were impressed, too, when they got their first chance to check it out.

“The lab feels so open and bright now,” said Bryce Boyd, a second-year dental student, after her first class in the new facility. “It felt like being in a real clinical setting, being able to drill with water and having to position ourselves properly around a patient. Last year, instructors always emphasized posture and positioning, but with the new work stations, we have to practice those things. I also think it will make the transition much easier next year when we are working on real patients.”

Better ergonomic training — to eventually improve patient care and to help avoid disabilities later in dental careers — was a big reason why Pyle wanted the renovation. She also wanted to maintain the school’s reputation for high-quality instruction and its ability to recruit top students.

Pyle’s efforts to finance the $4 million project attracted substantial contributions from alumni, support from the school’s Rinehart Foundation and a generous match from the school’s Dental Alumni Association. The needed fundraising was completed when the Sunderland Foundation gave $2 million to the project, which not only included the lab renovation and equipment, but a new air handler and HVAC system for the space.

“It felt like being in a real clinical setting, being able to drill with water and having to position ourselves properly around a patient…I also think it will make the transition much easier next year when we are working on real patients.” – Bryce Boyd, student

Cynthia Petrie, DDS, the department chair who oversees the classes taught in the lab, said that besides teaching proper positioning, the new mannequins and dental simulators manufactured and installed by the Dentsply Sirona “also replicate all the orofacial structures as closely as possible to human conditions. The students can practice using and manipulating dental instruments and handpieces in the same way that they will later do intra-orally on a patient.”

Petrie said the stations also integrate training videos and simulated patient record-keeping software.

“The entire lab space has been designed to be conducive for student learning,” she said. “Each station has its own monitor where the student can view educational resources such as photos and example videos of the exercises that they will perform. The stations are set in a way that faculty can navigate around the room and observe the students’ performance and provide appropriate instruction.”

Student Nicole Kurlbaum, president of the school’s DDS Class of 2022, said: “I have worked as a dental assistant, and the new lab is much more like being in a real practice. I know years of planning and fundraising went into this project, and now we all can appreciate it.”

“The lab is spectacular. This will give our students more real-life experiences before performing dental care on people.”  Marsha Pyle, dean of the UMKC School of Dentistry

UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies Receives DHHS Award

The UMKC Office of Research Services is pleased to announce that the School of Nursing and Health Studies has been awarded $800,000 from the Department of Health and Human Services offices of Minority Health and Women’s Health. Led by Dr.’s Amanda Grimes and Joseph Lightner, the grant will fund the project “Youth Engagement in Sports: Collaboration to Improve Adolescent Physical Activity and Nutrition (YES Initiative)”

Dr. Grimes describes the background of the project, “The evidence is very clear that American youth suffer from high rates of obesity, inactivity, and poor nutrition (Youth Behavior Risk Surveillance System, 2017). Adolescence seems to be a critical time in a child’s life where behaviors are learned or reinforced. Girls are particularly prone to low rates of physical activity during adolescence.”

This project aims to increase physical activity and consumption of healthy food by implementing an intramural sports program and a weekly nutritious food delivery within middle schools in Kansas City, Missouri, specifically among girls. With sustainability at the core of this project, we have recruited organizations who are experts in delivering each component of the intervention including Kansas City Parks and Rec, the Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition of Children’s Mercy Hospital, Truman Medical Center’s Community Health Strategies & Innovation.

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Kansas City Athletics, Truman Medical Centers/University Health Announce Partnership

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City Athletics and Truman Medical Centers/ University Health (TMC) are announcing the creation of a winning healthcare partnership.

Kansas City Roos’ Director of Athletics, Dr. Brandon Martin, and TMC’s President and CEO, Charlie Shields, say when a university and an academic medical center team up, it creates new and exciting opportunities.  Especially in areas that matter to the community, like health, education, and athletics.

This partnership means TMC/ University Health will be known as the “Official Healthcare Provider of Kansas City Athletics.” The providers at TMC/ University Health will help keep student athletes at their healthiest by providing quality, comprehensive care and education about living their healthiest lives.

“Truman Medical Center’s founding mission includes our commitment to partner with others in the community to improve the quality of life, and we believe this aligns with that goal. We would not be an Academic Medical Center without our very important partnership with UMKC’s schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing and Dentistry and this sponsorship is one more way of aligning with UMKC. As it works with us to keep the community healthy, we get to work with the university to ensure its student athletes stay in great shape, or get back on track after an injury. It helps that our academic clinicians train the doctors and health professionals of the future, staying ahead of the curve in healthcare. What’s good for Kansas City, will be great for Kansas City Athletics,” said Charlie Shields, President and CEO of Truman Medical Centers/ University Health.

TMC/ University Health is proud to be highlighted on signage and videoboards at UMKC, but is equally proud to let its patients know about this new extension to the TMC/ University Health – UMKC partnership. Other assets include TMC/ University Health serving as the presenting sponsor of both the official athletics website,, and the soon-to-be released KCRoos app. TMC/ University Health will also be the presenting sponsor of the Roo Basketball Gala on October 25th as well as KC’s Crew, the official kid’s club of Kansas City Athletics.

“This new partnership with TMC/ University Health is another giant jump forward for the Roos,” said Dr. Martin. “We’re proud to work with our friends at TMC/ University Health to create a meaningful partnership that will benefit us all and set the bar for similar partnerships across campus.”

About Truman Medical Centers/ University Health
Truman Medical Centers (TMC)/ University Health offer essential, state-of-the-art care to Kansas City. From a Level One Trauma Center, to the birthplace of nearly half of all babies born in Kansas City, MO, our dedicated experts provide a range of healthcare services. Caring for patients at both TMC/ University Health, our specialists treat chronic diseases, chronic pain, high risk pregnancies, sickle cell anemia and sleep disorders. Our state-of-the art Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Center is home to comprehensive cancer care, designed to help our patients through their diagnosis and journey. TMC/ University Health’s beautiful new outpatient care and day-surgery center- the only outpatient surgery center in downtown KC- offers 15 clinics and multiple primary care practices including the Sabates Eye Center, Plastic Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Orthopedics and Medical Imaging with Siemens 3D Mammography. We offer the area’s most comprehensive behavioral health program in addition to a long-term care facility and multiple primary care practices throughout eastern Jackson County. TMC/ University Health is a primary teaching hospital for the University of Missouri-Kansas City Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Dentistry so our doctors are academic specialists who teach the providers of the future.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City
The University of Missouri-Kansas City, one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving nearly 17,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Located in the heart of a thriving urban setting, the university is surrounded by arts, entertainment, culture and sports. The University engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. The 14:1 student-faculty ratio and small class sizes gives students a personal education and create a small-college feel, while Kansas City’s metropolitan environment provides extensive opportunities for internships and networking as well as culture and entertainment.

About Kansas City Athletics
Kansas City Athletics is a NCAA Division I member and in its seventh year of membership in the Western Athletic Conference. Under the guidance of Director of Athletics Dr. Brandon Martin, the Roos field 16 varsity sports with 240-plus student-athletes. During the summer of 2019, the athletics department announced a new logo and re-branding, switching from UMKC Athletics to Kansas City Athletics. For more information, visit or follow us on social media @KCRoosAthletics.


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Health Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Council sponsoring Cultural Competency Speaker Series

The Health Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Council is bringing a three-part Cultural Competency Speaker series to the Health Sciences campus beginning in August.

With financial support from a University of Missouri System Inclusive Excellence grant, the council will provide lectures and discussions on topics including Creating Safe and Inclusive Spaces for the LGBTQIA Community, Maternity Mortality Rate in African-American Mothers, and Ethnopharmacology. Each session will be open to all students, faculty and staff on the Health Sciences campus.

Tamica Lige, diversity council chair, said the speaker series will be geared toward health care professionals and will address a range of topics focusing on diversity and cultural competency in health care.

“We’ve tried to find topics that will be beneficial to the members all four health science schools,” Lige said. “One of our goals is to provide educational programming that can make an impact on knowledge, self-awareness, attitude, and cross-cultural skills.”

The series begins with the program on safe and inclusive spaces on August 8. Kari Jo Freudigmann, M.S, assistant director of LGBTQIA programs and services in the UMKC Office of Student Involvement will be one of two speakers from noon to 2 p.m. in the Health Sciences Building Room 3301. Her co-speaker will be Kimberly Tilson, BSN, RN, nurse care manager for the Behavioral Health Community Access Program at Truman Medical Center and a Health Science District LGBTQIA patient care advocate. This is a two-part session, with part one being a 101 basic knowledge session and part two being an application skills session.

The part one session will help participants identify issues facing the LGBTQIA community, demonstrate fundamental skills to become a community ally, and reduce the fear of reprisal and discrimination. Participants in this session may also receive 25 wellness points toward their Total Rewards benefits package.

Registration is encouraged but not required to attend. To register, go to Those unable to attend but interested in the program can also take part online via Zoom through the link The program will also be repeated in September for those unable to attend in August.

On October 3, participants can put their new knowledge to work during part two, the application and skills session. In that program from 10 a.m. to noon, Henry Ng, M.D., MPH, a public health LGBT health physician leader and advisor, will facilitate a panel composed of members from the LGBTQIA community and clinicians in a question and answer session followed by breakout sessions with video vignettes and small group discussions.

Traci Johnson, M.D., FACOG, UMKC assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, will lead the session on the maternal mortality rate in African-American mothers on September 4. Cesar Compadre, Ph.D., professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and director of the Biomedical Visualization Center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, will speak on ethnopharmacology on October 30.



Contact Us

Alison Troutwine
Project Manager
UMKC Health Sciences District