Destination Kansas City
 

 

Unparalleled growth in funding for several research institutions is turning Kansas City into a hub of life science research.

The Center for the Life Sciences

The Kansas City region is already considered a major high-tech services center by those familiar with its life science research and development. Both the Milken Institute and the American Electronics Association label the area a national leader that continues to grow.

The biggest acceleration of Kansas City into a center for the life sciences involves organizations such as the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI) Midwest Research Insitute and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, two of the more visible member of KCALSI.

KCALSI is a non-profit organization, partnered with several stakeholder institutions all sharing in the goal of discovering information and solutions for human disease. Leading research is under way in the areas of cancer, human development and aging, cardiovascular diseases, infectious disease and neurological disease.

Founded well before recent life science efforts, the Midwest Research Institute plays a key role in the Life Sciences Institute and other partnerships. MRI serves as a research and development laboratory, bridging the gap between scientific discovery and real-world advances. In several projects, MRI teams with area universities, hospitals, and corporations

In one example, MRI and the Mid America Heart Institute of Saint Luke’s Hospital formed an alliance to study the causes, treatment, and cures of several diseases. Although initial efforts focuses on heart disease, the alliance is ultimately expected to foster collaboration on a wide range of ailments. Experts from both organizations will share information on research capabilities and expertise, equipment and services.

Two additional MRI alliances point to another component of life sciences that are often overlooked: animal sciences. MRI partnerships with Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and, in another effort, with three agricultural research and development companies.

The UMKC School of Dentistry attracts students from across the country with its one-of-a-kind bioengineering summer training program, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Other major players in this growing field include the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, and Children’s Mercy Hospital. The University of Missouri at Kansas City, University of Kansas and University of Kansas Medical Center play key roles as well.

Beyond the immediate Kansas City metro area, Topeka and especially St. Joseph are extremely active the animal science field. St. Joseph in fact boasts several major life science industries related to pets and veterinary fields. Nearly 5,000 people—approximately one-tenth of St. Joseph’s job market—are employed in life sciences. More than half of those are directly involved in animal pharmaceuticals, agriculture chemicals, food processing, health care, animal research and development and seed production.

All of this may one day be overshadowed by future development. The original Stowers Institute was started through a $1.6 billion endowment from American Century founders and Kansas City natives, Jim and Virginia Stowers, who have discussed plans to add a second center to the state of the art facility in midtown Kansas City. Other developments include increased collaboration among area universities, including institutions such as Kansas State, a leader in agriculture, and medical/research centers at the University of Missouri.