Apr 18, 2007    #062
Contact: Noemi Rojas, UMKC public relations
(816) 235-1520

Gary is top alumnus for School of Biological Sciences

Keith A. Gary, Ph.D., has been selected to recieve the 2006 Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) under the banner of the School of Biological Sciences.

Each of UMKC’s 12 academic units recognizes one alumnus annually for achieving notable success in their profession and for having rendered outstanding community service.

Gary will accept his award at the annual Alumni Association’s dinner and program. The event, which draws an audience of 700, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19, 2007, in the Swinney Recreation Center, 5030 Holmes St.

Gary’s 14-year career in science and research may certainly be described as illustrious. After earning his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the UMKC School of Biological Sciences in 1993, he went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in its NIH-sponsored Neuropsychopharmacology Training Program.

By 1995, he received a Young Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders. Later, as a research assistant professor in at Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire, he received a Hitchcock Foundation Award.

After Dartmouth, he became an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut Health Center with joint appointments in the departments of psychiatry and pharmacology. While there, he continued his research on critical neuropsychiatric issues. He has published in peer-reviewed journals, served on various review panels and contributed to a patent.

In 2003, he returned to Kansas City to serve as director of program development at the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI).

With all this success, it is surprising to know that Gary never anticipated a career in research. In fact, he hated research as an undergraduate.

“I had no patience for it,” he said during a recent interview. “I thought I was going to be a physician.”

It wasn’t until after graduation that he had a revelation. While working at St. Luke’s Hospital as a dialysis technician, he saw many people with kidney failure die despite receiving state-of-the-art therapy. It shook his faith in medicine.

“Someone needed to find new medicines and treatments. That’s how I became interested in research,” he said.

He became involved with clinical trials at St. Luke’s, and he enrolled in some classes at UMKC, including an advanced genetics course that connected him with a professor, eventually leading to a fellowship.

Throughout his career, he has attempted to keep focused on research that can quickly be translated into patient care. In fact, while at the University of Pennsylvania, he and colleagues collaborated with scientists from the National Institute of Mental Health. They found that the timing in which a drug is administered can have a dramatic affect on improving mood in patients with major depression.

Today, Gary continues to contribute intellectually to research taking place elsewhere; however, it is his position with KCALSI that allows him the potential for broader scientific impact. As KCALSI’s program development director, he assembles scientific teams to leverage the region’s intellectual capital to compete more effectively for federal research dollars.

“I work with scientists across a wide range of fields,” he said. “Translational research is booming here in the Kansas City area. I’m right where I’d like to be.”

“He is an excellent representative for a graduate from UMKC and an excellent choice as Alumnus of the Year from the School of Biological Sciences,” said Bibie M. Chronwall, Ph.D., vice provost of Undergraduate Affairs and Student Engagement at UMKC.

“Receiving UMKC’s Alumni Achievement award provides a degree of validation for the hard work and effort necessary to build a research career. My family deserves a large portion of this award for their constant love and support,” Gary said.

UMKC is one of four University of Missouri campuses. It is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health and life sciences, and urban affairs.


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