Research Divisions

The HBC administration is working with leaders of each of these three thematic areas to assist in the development of collaborative research efforts that may lead to either large programmatic research grants or translational science research grants. These areas have been identified as being representative of the current strengths of the HBC investigators.

Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Cancer Division

The mission of the Division of Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Cancer is to foster an environment of collaboration among the large interdisciplinary group of outstanding researchers studying basic biological processes at the molecular and cellular level and including diverse model organism, developmental biology, and cancer research. Training of graduate students and post-doctoral scientists is a major goal of this division.

Our vision is to understand the molecular mechanisms that define normal organismic development and normal and cancer cell in the blood stream neoplastic cell growth in order to identify and characterize molecules, pathways and processes that represent new targets for prognostic and therapeutic objectives. Two recent advancements illustrate the strategic goals of this division. In July, 2012, the University of Kansas Cancer Center was officially awarded National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation, becoming the 67th such center in the nation. Division members played key roles in the success of this endeavor. At that same time, a major grant, entitled "Center for the Molecular Analysis of Disease Pathways" was funded by the NIH Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE). This project, led by Dr. Sue Lunte (Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry) and co-investigator Dr. Erik Lundquist (Molecular Biosciences) will provide enabling technologies on campus to analyze human disease pathways using model organisms (flies, worms, zebrafish, and rodents).

Future goals of the Division are to build on these recent accomplishments and continue to work together to decipher underlying mechanisms of normal cellular function and behavior in developing and adult organisms and how these normal activities, when deranged, can lead to developmental disorders and cancer.

Division LeadersKristi Neufeld and Liang Xu 

Neuroscience and Neurodegenerative Diseases Division

The mission of the Division of Neuroscience and Neurodegenerative diseases of the University of Kansas is to establish an environment to investigate the mechanisms of neurodegeneration and its associated mitochondrial dysfunction, to promote the discovery of novel therapy for neurodegenerative diseases and to facilitate mouse brain hippocampus the translational research for these devastating disorders. Our division trains graduate students, post-doctoral and research scientists.

Our vision is to improve therapy for neurodegenerative disorders by focusing on the underlying mechanisms of mitochondrial and synaptic dysfunction. We have an integrated research group with scientists from a variety of disciplines including neuroscientists, medicinal chemists, and clinical scientists and supporting staffs.  The division is engaged in the cutting edge cellular and molecular basic and translational research in areas of neuroscience and mitochondrial medicine, especially in mitochondrial bioenergic metabolism, axonal mitochondrial transport, synaptic mitochondrial function and synaptic function related to the process of aging, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Division Leader: Heng Du

Vaccines and Medicines Division

The mission of the Division of Vaccines and Medicines at The University of Kansas encompasses both basic and applied biomedical research. In doing so, the Division fosters an environment of collaboration among an interdisciplinary group of outstanding researchers who explore the mechanisms used by pathogenic microorganisms to cause disease and which provide attractive targets for the development of new vaccines and vaccine platforms. Parallel research strives to identify drug targets for the discovery of new small molecule therapeutics (antibiotics and antimicrobial agents) that can protect against the devastating effects of infectious agents. Not to be overlooked, the vaccines and medicines that are the focus of the Division are also important in the treatment of noninfectious maladies such as autoimmune disorders and cancers. As part of this overall program, the training of graduate students, post-doctoral scientists and research faculty is a major contribution that the Division makes in its role within the greater researcher mission at KU.

Inclusive in the vision of the Division is to interact with biotechnology partners, many of whom are start-up companies arising from the research at KU, to bring medicines from the benchtop to the bedside. These interactions include formulation of new and existing vaccines and medicines to stabilize them and enable their delivery to the patients who need them. An example of the cutting edge research done by the Division is embodied in the NIH Center of Biomedical Research (CoBRE) program in the Chemical Biology of Infectious Diseases (CBID) directed by Dr. Scott Hefty which promotes the discovery of small molecule modulators of infectious disease agents. The Division is also home of the internal Kansas Vaccine Institute (KVI) led by Dr. William Picking which partners with regional scientists to promote vaccine development and awareness.

The Division continues to build upon its accomplishments to promote training, research and the acquisition of federal and private research support for the common public health good.

Division Leader:  William Picking