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Advancing Ambition

The Research Institute was established to grow Saint Louis University’s research capabilities and affirm the University’s path to becoming the world’s leading Jesuit research university. The Institute’s vision is closely aligned with SLU’s strategic plan, which calls for the University to make research a core part of its identity and to increase total research output.

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Research by the Numbers

  • 200+
    Years of Discovery
  • $53M
    Grant Revenue
  • 20+
    Regional Partnerships
Pictured: Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield pose for a photograph in front of the historic Samuel Cupples House on the campus of Saint Louis University

Made Possible By a Historic Commitment

The Research Institute was established following a historic gift from Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield in August 2018: $50 million — the largest single gift in the University’s history — to accelerate research growth at the University and place SLU on the path to becoming a preeminent research university.

Goals of the Research Institute

  1. Achieve and sustain annual research expenditure growth that places SLU among the fastest growing universities in the country
  2. Establish eminence in strategic, university-wide research priority areas
  3. Raise the profile and reputation of SLU as a world-class research university in the St. Louis area and around the world
  4. Recruit and retain world-class research leaders and provide significant investments in their work
  5. Leverage the initial gift from Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield and Rex Sinquefield to increase federal, industry, and philanthropic funding for research done at SLU

Research Institute Leadership

Headshot of Kenneth A. Olliff

Kenneth A. Olliff

Vice President for Research and Partnerships
Director of SLU Research Institute

Ken Olliff serves as vice president for research and partnerships at Saint Louis University, a role he has held since July 2016. Olliff is responsible for growing the scale and eminence of SLU’s research enterprise, fostering an innovative research culture, building areas of distinctive strength, and raising SLU’s profile as a preeminent research university. Olliff also oversees SLU’s research innovation efforts, working closely with St. Louis’ innovation and entrepreneurship community to translate research discoveries into the marketplace.

In fall 2018, Olliff oversaw the creation and now serves as director of the Saint Louis University Research Institute. Founded through a 10-year, $50 million gift from Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, the vision for the Research Institute is to set SLU on a path to becoming the world’s leading Jesuit research university.

Olliff serves as chair of the Program Committee for the Cortex Innovation Community and on the board of the Center for Creative Arts in St. Louis. He is a member of the St. Louis BioSTL Coalition, the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Mission Science Council, and the Governing Council of Washington University’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences.

Olliff joined Saint Louis University after 12 years at the University of Chicago, most recently as associate vice president for program development in the Office of the Vice President for Research and National Labs. Responsible for managing UChicago’s research enterprise along with Argonne and Fermi National Laboratories, the Office oversees a combined annual research expenditure of approximately $1.4 billion.

Olliff received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Rochester, and his Doctor of Ministry from Meadville Lombard Theological School. He performed advanced graduate work in religion at Harvard University, and he holds an Executive MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Research Leaders

The Research Institute works closely with faculty research leaders from a variety of disciplines to ensure the support it offers to the University community aligns with researchers’ needs and ambitions. The following three research leaders represent different aspects of SLU’s research enterprise — science and engineering, scholarship and the humanities, and the medical sciences, respectively — and they each have appointments with the Research Institute, enabling them to facilitate research growth that aligns with both the strengths and capabilities of the colleges and the University’s larger research ambitions.

Headshot of Jenna Gorlewicz Ph.D.

Jenna Gorlewicz Ph.D.

Associate Dean of Research and Innovation, School of Science and Engineering
Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Jenna Gorlewicz, Ph.D, is associate professor of mechanical engineering, director of the People and Technology Horizon (PATH) at SLU, and associate dean of research and innovation in SLU’s School of Science and Engineering (SSE). She works alongside SSE faculty and students, the dean, and the vice president for research and partnerships to enable research growth across SSE, forge new interdisciplinary research collaborations, and foster a research environment compatible with SLU’s research growth agenda.

Learn more about Gorlewicz's work in this role in the 2022 Research Institute Annual Impact Report.

Headshot of Claire Gilbert, Ph.D.

Claire Gilbert, Ph.D.

Director of Scholarly Research Initiatives, Office of the Vice President for Research
Associate Professor, History

Claire Gilbert, Ph.D., is associate professor of history and interim director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. In 2022, Gilbert was named director of scholarly research initiatives in the Office of the Vice President for Research. In this position, Gilbert works alongside the vice president for research and partnerships and faculty across the University to facilitate excellence in scholarship as the University pursues a rigorous research growth agenda.

Learn more about Gilbert's work in this role in the 2022 Research Institute Annual Impact Report.

Headshot of Adriana Montaño, Ph.D.

Adriana Montaño, Ph.D.

Vice Dean for Research, School of Medicine
Professor of Pediatrics, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Adriana M. Montaño, Ph.D., is professor of pediatrics, biochemistry and molecular biology, and the vice dean for research in SLU’s School of Medicine. In this position, Montaño works with the dean of the School of Medicine and the vice president for research and partnerships to enhance SLU’s biomedical research.

Learn more about Montaño's work in this role in the 2022 Research Institute Annual Impact Report.

Institute Directors

Since the establishment of the Research Institute, SLU researchers have launched a number of interdisciplinary institutes that tackle an array of global challenges — from drug discovery to water research. The following faculty leaders serve as the directors of these institutes.

Institute Directors

Headshot of Vasit Sagan, Ph.D.

Vasit Sagan, Ph.D.

Acting Director, Taylor Geospatial Institute
Associate Professor, Geospatial Science

Vasit Sagan, Ph.D., associate professor of geospatial science, is the acting director of the Taylor Geospatial Institute (TGI). TGI is a first-of-its-kind institution that brings together eight leading research institutions to collaborate on research into geospatial technology. As acting director, Sagan serves as the principal point of contact for business with TGI and is responsible for the management of the day-to-day operations and administration of TGI according to the policies, procedures, and strategic direction set by the Governing Council. In addition, the director leads strategic research and other priorities for the institute.

Sagan’s current research focuses on developing state-of-the-art remote sensing and GIS tools, AI/machine learning, climate change detection and geospatial analytics. Sagan’s work involves utilizing these tools and technologies to address the growing issue of food and water insecurity.

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Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E.

Director, WATER Institute
Associate Professor, Civil Engineering

Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E., is the director of the Water Access Technology, Environment and Resources (WATER) Institute at SLU. Located in the City of St. Louis and at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the WATER Institute aims to advance water innovation to serve humanity. 

Cox’s own research activities cover a wide range of topics related to water movement. She has conducted studies on river engineering, sediment transport, urban drainage, stream restoration, bridge pier scour, hydraulic structures and erosion control. Cox uses a variety of research methods including numerical simulations, physical modeling, direct field measurements and remote sensing. Through her research, she applies advanced technologies in novel ways to observe and model water and sediment flow behavior.  

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Amber Johnson, Ph.D.

Executive Director and Co-Founder, Institute for Healing Justice & Equity
Professor, Communication

As a scholar/artist/activist, Johnson’s research and activism focus on narratives of identity, protest, healing and social justice in digital media, popular media and everyday lived experiences. As a polymath, their mixed-media artistry involves working with metals, recycled and reclaimed goods, photography, poetry, percussion, and paint to interrogate systems of oppression and create capacity for different, critical futures. Amber Johnson is an award-winning professor of communication and social justice at Saint Louis University. As executive director and co-founder of the Institute for Healing Justice & Equity, Johnson specializes in humanizing equity and exploring the relationship between healing justice and equity. Humanizing equity is the process of making organizational equity work radically inclusive in action. Johnson is also the founding director of the Justice Fleet™, a mobile social justice museum that fosters healing through art, dialogue, pleasure and play. Johnson created the Justice Fleet™ to experiment with methodologies that reimagine community engagement, healing justice, humanized equity and critical futures.

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Leslie Hinyard, Ph.D., M.S.W.

Executive Director, AHEAD Institute
Chair and Associate Professor, Health and Clinical Outcomes Research

Leslie Hinyard, Ph.D., M.S.W., is the executive director of the Advanced HEAlth Data (AHEAD) Institute at SLU. The AHEAD Institute is a comprehensive center for data-driven innovation and research aimed at improving the health of individuals and populations.

Hinyard has expertise in secondary data analysis including national survey research, large administrative claims databases, and research involving electronic medical records as well as analysis of prospective and observational studies. Her research focuses on health disparities and health equity, health-related quality of life, and psychosocial needs of cancer patients. Additionally, she works with an interdisciplinary group of researchers to improve training for interprofessional health care clinicians for improvements in advance-care planning and palliative care. Hinyard earned her Master of Social Work degree from Washington University in Saint Louis and her Ph.D. in Public Health Studies from Saint Louis University.

Headshot of John Tavis, Ph.D.

John Tavis, Ph.D.

Director, SLU Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation
Professor, Molecular Virology

John Tavis, Ph.D., professor of molecular virology, is director of the SLU Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation (SLU-IDBI). SLU-IDBI is a multidisciplinary association of researchers with a shared interest in drug and biotherapeutic discovery and development to address unmet patient needs.

Tavis has studied the HBV replication mechanisms, HBV reverse transcriptase’s metabolism and non-catalytic roles in the cell, and biochemistry of viral reverse transcription since 1992. He serves as the chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council for the molecular biology of the Hepatitis B Viruses Meeting and as a member of the Council for Extramural Grants at the American Cancer Society. His research focus is currently on basic biochemistry of the HBV ribonuclease H and developing drugs to suppress HBV replication that target this essential enzyme. Notably, Tavis received the Society’s Mission Hero Award in 2018 for his efforts on behalf of the American Cancer Society. 

Headshot of Andrew. F. Hall, D.Sc.

Andrew. F. Hall, D.Sc.

Director, SLU Center for Additive Manufacturing (SLU-CAM)
Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Andrew F. Hall, D.Sc., associate professor of biomedical engineering, is the director of the SLU Center for Additive Manufacturing (SLU-CAM), which is a resource for 3D printing, computer-aided design and related activities, available to faculty, students and the larger St. Louis community.

Hall’s own research interests since joining SLU include medical imaging, medical devices, and medical robotics. He works with interventional radiologists to optimize pro-operative imaging protocols to support emerging minimally invasive procedures. His lab is also working on image-guided robotic therapies for pedicle screw placement and laminectomy in the spine. His lab uses 3D printing extensively, including the development of 3D-printed objects with controllable radiopacity and dissolvable 3D-printed tissue molds derived from CT images. Finally, Hall works on the development of smartphone-based medical devices.

Headshot of Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D.

Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D.

Director, Center for Vaccine Development
Director, Stephen C. Peiper and Zi-Xuan Wang Institute for Vaccine Science and Policy

Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Allergy and Immunology, Adorjan Endowed Chair of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, director of the Center for Vaccine Development (CVD), and principal investigator for the SLU Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU), one of only 10 elite NIH-funded units in the country. Under his leadership, the CVD has built upon its 30-year legacy of community-centered vaccine research. In December 2019, the NIH renewed SLU’s VTEU status, and in April 2020, a generous donation from Stephen C. Peiper, M.D. (Med ’77) and Zi-Xuan Wang, Ph.D. established a new center of excellence under Hoft’s leadership: the Stephen C. Peiper and Zi-Xuan Wang Institute for Vaccine Science and Policy.

In addition to his proven leadership, Hoft has earned national recognition for his contributions to science. Hoft has studied whether mucosal vaccinations and booster vaccinations enhance immunity induced by conventional vaccination. He was the first to demonstrate that human γ9δ2 T cells develop protective memory responses after vaccination, a paradigm shift that provides an important new approach for tuberculosis vaccine development. Among his contributions to the field are: the development of improved tuberculosis vaccines, the development of vaccines for Chagas Disease, pandemic influenza vaccine development, and conducting multiple phase 1-3 COVID-19 vaccine trials.

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Steven Rogers, Ph.D.

Director, SLU/YouGov Poll
Associate Professor, Political Science

Steven Rogers, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, is the director of the SLU/ YouGov Poll. The SLU/YouGov Poll fills a void in the study of public opinion in Missouri. No other academic institution regularly conducts a non-partisan, scientific survey of Missouri voters and publicly makes its results available to citizens, researchers, and policymakers.
Rogers’ research focuses on elections, particularly at the state level. His in-progress book manuscript addresses the question, “Do elections hold state legislators accountable for their own performance?” Rogers’ research has appeared in top disciplinary journals such as the American Political Science Review and the American Journal of Political Science. Prior to joining Saint Louis University, Rogers was a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University, where he contributed to the Vanderbilt Poll.

Headshot of Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D.

Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D.

Director, Institute for Translational Neuroscience
William Beaumont Professor and Chair, Pharmacology and Physiology

Daniela Salvemini is William Beaumont Professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience, and director of SLU’s Institute for Translational Neuroscience, which brings together researchers and clinicians throughout Saint Louis University who share a common interest in the neurosciences
Salvemini’s research interests are understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms underpinning neuropathic pain and developing therapeutics to target these mechanisms. Her highly translational approaches combine behavioral pharmacology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, toxicology, and drug discovery. Her work led to several seminal discoveries that resulted in the development of novel therapies that entered clinical trials. She has published over 270 peer-reviewed articles and holds many U.S. patents. Salvemini is the founder of BioIntervene Inc., which is developing first-in-class selective A3AR agonists for the treatment of chronic pain and neuroinflammatory diseases.

Headshot of Mary Dunn,  Ph.D.

Mary Dunn, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Research on Global Catholicism
Associate Professor, Theological Studies

Mary Dunn is the director of the Center for Research on Global Catholicism and an associate professor in the Department of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University. A historian of religion, Dunn works in the area of early modern Catholicism. She has published extensively on both Catholicism in 17th- and 18th-century colonial New France and theory and method in the study of religion, and is the author of several books, including “From Mother to Son: The Selected Letters of Marie de l’Incarnation to Claude Martin” (Oxford, 2015), “The Cruelest of All Mothers: Marie de l’Incarnation, Motherhood, and Christian Tradition” (Fordham, 2016), “Religious Intimacies: Intersubjectivity in the Modern Christian West” (Indiana, 2020), and most recently, “Where Paralytics Walk and the Blind See: Narratives of Sickness and Disability at the Juncture of Worlds” (Princeton, 2022). She is currently at work on a new book project focusing on the history of Quebec’s 19th century foundlings and the Augustinian nuns of the Hôtel-Dieu who cared for them.

Research Councils and Committees

The Research Institute engages a number of research councils and committees in allocating funding and identifying emerging research priorities. These bodies are made up of SLU faculty and administrators. Full rosters can be found here.