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Investing in Research: Children's Mercy Endows Three Chairs

Visionary leaders and donors help cultivate the future of pediatric health care

Children’s Mercy invested three endowed chair positions in the fields of pediatric surgery and pediatric genomic research to advance treatments for children on Wednesday, April 4, 2018. Endowed chair positions are academic medicine’s highest and most prestigious honor.

The formal investiture ceremony at Westin Crown Center celebrated three researchers and physicians and the visionary leaders —Thomas Holder, MD, Keith Ashcraft, MD, Roberta (Robbie) Harding and William F. Bradley, Jr. Fred and Dee Lyons, and other donors — who are helping to cultivate the future of health care for children through their philanthropic support.

Endowed chairs, currently funded at a minimum level of $1.5 million each, provide ongoing financial support for research and education. The researchers in these roles can now focus solely on their investigative work. This translates to finding treatment options and cures and bringing them to the bedside faster for the benefit of patients and families.

BACK ROW: Dr. Keith Ashcraft, Dr. Tom Holder, Robbie Harding and Brad Bradley, Dee and Fred Lyons
FRONT ROW: Dr. Shawn St. Peter, Thomas Holder/Keith Ashcraft Chair in Pediatric Surgical Research; Dr. Elin Grundberg, Roberta Harding and William F. Bradley, Jr. Endowed Chair in Genomic Research; Dr. Tomi Pastinen, Dee Lyons/Missouri Endowed Chair in Pediatric Genomic Medicine

The Thomas Holder and Keith Ashcraft Chair in Pediatric Research, established by Thomas Holder, MD, Keith Ashcraft, MD, their families and other donors, was awarded to Shawn D. St. Peter, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief, Director of the Pediatric Surgery Fellowship and Surgical Scholars Program and Director of the Center for Prospective Clinical Trials, all at Children’s Mercy. He is also a professor of surgery at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Dr. St. Peter has earned national and international recognition for his research in comparative effectiveness, and he has been the primary investigator on more than 20 prospective randomized trials. He also serves in a clinical role, providing care to patients and performing life-changing surgeries.

The Dee Lyons/Missouri Endowed Chair in Pediatric Genomic Medicine, established by Dee and Fred and Dee Lyons, was awarded to Tomi Pastinen, MD, PhD, Director of the Children’s Mercy Genomic Medicine Center and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Dr. Pastinen’s research interests lie in functional genomics, a field of molecular biology that attempts to make use of the vast wealth of data given by genome sequencing projects to describe how genes express themselves, function and interact. Understanding how DNA behaves promises to expand the practical knowledge of the effect that a child’s genome has on a child’s biological function. Bridging the gap between data and real-life application at the bedside, this translational research will have a significant impact on the way Children’s Mercy treats genetic diseases in children in the future and has the potential to revolutionize pediatric and adult health care.

The Roberta D. Harding and William F. Bradley, Jr. Endowed Chair in Genomic Research, established by Roberta (Robbie) Harding and Brad Bradley, was awarded to Elin Grundberg, PhD, a Resident Research Faculty member. Dr. Grundberg’s research interests lie epigenomics. The epigenome is the set of chemical modifications to the DNA and DNA-associated proteins in the cell, which alter gene expression. The modifications occur as a natural process of development, and can be altered in response to environmental exposures or disease. Epigenomic maps may someday enable doctors to determine an individual’s health status and tailor a patient’s response to therapies. Dr. Grundberg is applying her work to the childhood obesity-related programs at Children’s Mercy.

“The generosity of these families is just so inspiring,” said Jenea Oliver, PhD, Vice President of Philanthropy. “Thanks to their support, pediatric research will be pushed forward exponentially. Research is paramount to finding better treatment and discoveries for the health of our children, and their future is very bright because of donors like these.”

Children’s Mercy established the Children’s Research Institute (CRI) in 2015, naming Tom Curran, PhD, FRS, as Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Director in 2016. Then early this year, Children’s Mercy broke ground for the new CRI building to be completed in 2020, where

the work of all three researchers will be supported by the new facilities as they continue their pursuits in translational pediatric research to better the future for our children.

Children’s Mercy currently has 24 Eminent Scholar and endowed chair positions, with the goal of increasing that number to 30 by the end of 2020. Investment of the original gift to establish a chair generates income annually. The principal of the gift is held by the Children’s Mercy Hospital Foundation.


Children’s Mercy Eminent Scholars and Endowed Chairs

  • Michael Artman, MD, Joyce C. Hall Eminent Scholar in Pediatrics
  • Timothy L. Bennett, MD, Elizabeth J. Ferrell Chair in Maternal Fetal Medicine
  • Karen S. Cox, PhD, RN, FACHE, FAAN, V. Fred Burry, MD, and Sandra Hobart Burry Chair in Nursing Advocacy and Leadership
  • Tom Curran, PhD, FRS, Donald J. Hall Eminent Scholar in Pediatric Research
  • James F. Daniel, MD, James F. Daniel, MD, Endowed Chair in Liver Care
  • Kathy Goggin, PhD, Ernest L. Glasscock, MD, Chair in Pediatric Education and Research
  • Elin Grundberg, PhD, Roberta D. Harding and William F. Bradley, Jr. Endowed Chair in Genomic Research
  • George W. Holcomb III, MD, MBA, Katharine B. Richardson Chair in Pediatric Surgery
  • Cheri E. Hunt, MHA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, Bernell Hevner O’Donnell, RN, Endowed Chair – Chief Nursing Officer
  • J. Steven Leeder, PharmD, PhD, Marion Merrell Dow/Missouri Chair in Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology
  • James E. O’Brien Jr., MD, FACS, Jerry Smith Chair in Pediatrics
  • Bradford W. Olney, MD, Dr. Rex and Lillian Diveley Chair in Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery
  • Tomi Pastinen, MD, PhD, Dee Lyons/Missouri Endowed Chair in Pediatric Genomic Medicine
  • Charles C. Roberts, MD, Schellhorn Family Endowed Chair in Medical Administration
  • Girish S. Shirali, MBBS, FASE, FACC, Melva and Randall L. O’Donnell, PhD, Chair in Pediatric Cardiology
  • James D. St. Louis, MD, Joseph Boon Gregg/Missouri Endowed Chair in Cardiac Surgery
  • Shawn D. St. Peter, MD, Thomas Holder/Keith Ashcraft Chair in Pediatric Surgical Research
  • William E. Truog III, MD, Sosland Chair in Neonatology Research
  • Shui Qing Ye, MD, PhD, William R. Brown/Missouri Endowed Chair in Medical Genetics and Molecular Medicine

Open chairs under recruitment

  • Marion Merrell Dow/Missouri Chair in Pediatric Medical Research
  • Marion Merrell Dow/Missouri Chair in Pediatric Precision Therapeutics
  • DeBruce Foundation Endowed Chair in Cancer Immunotherapy
  • Stanley H. Durwood Foundation Endowed Chair in Health Outcomes
  • Schutte/Speas Endowed Chair in Pediatric Hematologic Malignancies


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