UMKC School of Medicine announces new chair, vice chair of Biomedical Sciences

Paula Monaghan-Nichols, Ph.D., has been selected as the new chair of Biomedical Sciences, and Michael Wacker, Ph.D., will serve as vice chair.

UMKC School of Medicine Dean Steven Kanter, M.D., is pleased to announce two key appointments as the school continues to align itself for the future.

Paula Monaghan-Nichols, Ph.D., has been appointed Chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Michael Wacker, Ph.D., has been appointed Vice Chair. Christopher Papasian, Ph.D., who has served as department chair since 1998, will retire in December. Although Dr. Papasian will remain Chair through December, Drs. Monaghan-Nichols and Wacker will begin to work with Dr. Papasian on September 1 to assure a smooth transition of leadership responsibilities in the department.

Both Dr. Monaghan-Nichols and Dr. Wacker are exceptionally qualified for their new leadership positions.

Dr. Monaghan-Nichols came to the School of Medicine in 2016 as associate dean of research. She previously served on the faculty of the Department of Neurobiology at the University of  Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where she received numerous awards for teaching, mentoring and research.

An expert in genetics and neurobiology, she has maintained a continuous record of funding from the National Institutes of Health for research since 1999. Her research focuses on identifying genes and environmental factors that alter the development of areas in the brain essential for emotion and cognition.

Dr. Monaghan-Nichols earned her undergraduate degree in genetics at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. She received a Ph.D. in genetic engineering and molecular biology and did a post-graduate fellowship in molecular genetics and development at the Medical Research Council in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Dr. Wacker has been a member of the School of Medicine faculty since 2007. He has excelled in teaching, research, and service, most recently working on academic and faculty initiatives as associate dean for academic affairs. He also has served as assistant dean for student research, as vice chair of the council on evaluation, as a faculty senate representative, and as a member of numerous curriculum, selection and faculty search committees.

Dr. Wacker is course director for the Human Structure and Function series taught to medical students and teaches physiology courses in both Master of Science in Anesthesia (MSA) and Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant (MMSPA) programs.

As a researcher, he maintains a cardiovascular laboratory to study factors that may directly alter cardiac myocyte calcium handling and cardiac function during conditions such as chronic kidney disease. He has received extramural funding through the NIH and the American Heart Association.

Dr. Wacker earned his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. He completed his undergraduate degree at Texas Christian University.

Dr. Papasian’s long and productive tenure as chair will be celebrated at an event this fall.