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.

Hospital Hill Run 2020

UMKC Health Sciences District is proud to sponsor the Hospital Hill Run again in 2020.

Experience the “Thrill of the Hill” at the 47th Annual Hospital Hill Run!

The Kansas City Running Tradition
Saturday, June 6th, 2020
5K – 10K – Half Marathon

Learn More and Register

Check out a series of Training Tips Tuesday videos to help registered participants prepare for the 2020 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
May 7 @ 8:00 am – 9:00 am
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City: Pop Tab Pandemonium 9:00 am
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City: Pop Tab Pandemonium
May 9 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
POP TAB COLLECTION PROGRAM We collect pop tabs to support families with children in the hospital that stay at RMHC-KC or visit the Ronald McDonald Family Room. Here’s how you can get involved.  Come to Pop[...]
CMH Grand Rounds 8:00 am
CMH Grand Rounds @ CMH Adele Hall Auditorium
May 28 @ 8:00 am – 9:00 am

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.

Grab your running shoes! Hospital Hill Run goes virtual and extends to July

UMKC participants receive discounted registration

by Kelly Edwards

The UMKC-Hospital Hill Run relationship may go back 47 years, but it’s still making history. The 2020 Hospital Hill Run has gone virtual, and participants can run their distance anytime and anywhere they choose before July 1.

This year’s race is sponsored by the UMKC Health Sciences District and UMKC faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends receive a 20% discounted registration using code WPFCUMKC20.

The race, founded in 1973 by School of Medicine founder Dr. E. Grey Dimond, has long been a favorite of runners and walkers nationwide. As in the past, the 2020 virtual race offers three race options – 5K, 10K and half marathon. Participants will receive digital finisher certificates and a swag packet – including t-shirts and medals – in the mail. Here’s how to join the virtual event:

  • Register and run virtual by July 1. Run or walk your distance on roads, tracks, treadmills, or one of many new race routes throughout town and provided on the HHR virtual website.
  • Submit your results. Runners and walkers send in their results online and see how they stack up against other participants.
  • Share your experience. Using the HHR Facebook page and hashtag #HHRVirtual2020, share your run photos, videos and screenshots.

Race organizers have also developed several race challenges (with prizes!), training tip videos and other resources to support participants. Visit for more information.

Original story:

Pop Up Food Pantry in the UMKC Health Sciences District

Our plans to keep everyone healthy:

  • Harvesters has kindly offered to send additional produce, expecting more residents than a typical distribution.
  • The distribution will mostly be a drive through distribution but we will also serve residents that walk, cycle or ride the bus in a line outdoors with two tables between the volunteers and the residents.
  • We will mark the 6 ft. distance for the line with chalk to keep social distancing measures.
  • Two to three Food Inspectors will patrol the  line to make sure that residents are keeping their distance.
  • All volunteers will have gloves, masks, and goggles.  Under no circumstances will a resident grab their own produce.
  • We will purchase new bags to pack food for residents.
  • We will have touchless antibacterial gel stands at the beginning and end of the line.
  • Residents should wash the produce once home.

COVID-19 Updates for Patients

UMKC School of Dentistry:

  • As of March 17, 2020, in an effort to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in our community, all UMKC School of Dentistry clinics will be seeing PATIENTS OF RECORD FOR EMERGENCY APPOINTMENTS ONLY. If you have an appointment for dental care, your appointment is cancelled and you will be rescheduled at a later date.
  • EMERGENCIES INCLUDE: Injury to the mouth requiring sutures, 2. Swelling of the face or mouth, 3. Uncontrolled bleeding for the mouth, 4. Pain that is not controlled by over-the-counter medications.
  • When calling the on call emergency doctor, please let them know if any of the following apply to you: 1. Any flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, sneezing or shortness of breath, Travel within the last two weeks, 3.  Contact with someone infected with COVID-19.
  • For emergency care for patients of record (seen in the last 12 months)please call 816-235-2100


Children’s Mercy Hospital

Children’s Mercy is implementing full visitor restrictions to keep you and your child safe:

  • No visitors, including sibling visitors
  • Parents/guardians are not considered visitors
  • Parents/guardians must be free of respiratory symptoms and fever to be in the hospital

In order to help keep our patients as safe as possible, we are working to reschedule some of our specialty clinic visits, non-urgent imaging procedures and elective surgeries. If your child’s appointment needs to be changed, our team will be reaching out to you directly. We appreciate your understanding as we work to keep our patients and staff as safe as possible from the spread of COVID-19.

Truman Medical Centers
TMC is pre-screening patients for COVID-19 before they arrive at the medical center. When calling with appointment reminders, staff ask patients if they are running a fever, experiencing a cough and experiencing shortness of breath.  Patients also are being asked if they have had contact with anyone with COVID-19 or experiencing symptoms.

If you are feeling ill, running a fever, and have shortness of breath, please call TMC before coming to the medical center. Please call (816) 404-CARE (2273). It is important that you call.

UMKC School of Medicine students show patients how much they care on Valentine’s Day

More than a dozen UMKC School of Medicine students displayed the humanistic side of medicine on Valentine’s Day. The students, members of the school’s Gold Humanism Honor Society, delivered more than 200 roses and hand-made Valentine’s cards to their patients at Truman Medical Center Health Sciences District during their lunch hour.

“This reinforces the idea that our patients are not just patients, they’re also human beings,” said sixth-year student Rmaah Memon.

The fifth- and sixth-year students and their Gold Humanism Honor Society faculty sponsor, Carol Stanford, M.D., have been handing out roses to their patients for Valentine’s Day as part of the organization’s Solidarity Week for Compassionate Patient Care since 2011.

A few years ago, the students began inviting their classmates to join in on the Solidarity Week campaign by getting together during the week to create hundreds of their own hand-made Valentine’s cards to pass out with the roses.

“A lot of these patients are here on Valentine’s Day all alone,” said Athira Jayan, a sixth-year student. “You’re handing them a rose, but you’re also getting a chance to just visit with them, give them some company. A lot of patients here, that’s something that they value, the ability for someone to comfort them and give them someone to talk to.”

Elsa George, another sixth-year student, said this is an opportunity for the students to show their patients that someone cares.

“Sometimes, when we come into their room and just talk to them briefly about their medical conditions, patients think we don’t really care about how they feel as a person,” George said.

Two years ago, the School of Medicine received the Gold Humanism Honor Society’s Distinguished Chapter of the Year. That honor recognized the chapter’s impact, leadership, service activities and humanistic learning environment.

The organization has nearly 180 chapters in medical schools and residency programs throughout the United States.

Original story link:


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

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Alison Troutwine
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UMKC Health Sciences District