University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Carolyn J. Henry has named Christian Lorson as the associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies. Lorson, PhD, has served as the interim associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies since Aug. 1, 2017, when then-associate dean Henry was appointed interim dean of the CVM.
After earning a bachelor of arts in biology at Colorado College in Colorado Springs in 1991, Lorson pursued graduate studies at the University of Missouri School of Medicine in the Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Department. In 1997 he completed a PhD with his focus on parvovirus gene expression. He then pursued postgraduate training at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, initially studying papillomavirus gene expression and latency, before making a detour into the pediatric neurodegenerative disease spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).
He joined the faculty at Arizona State University as an assistant professor from 2000 to 2002. He returned to MU in the College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Veterinary Pathobiology in 2002. He became an associate professor in 2006 and rose to the rank of professor in 2010. He is also an investigator at the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center.
Lorson’s research interests focus on molecular genetics, gene therapy, RNA processing, neurodegeneration, and animal models of disease. The Lorson lab has a particular focus on SMA, which is the leading genetic cause of infantile death worldwide. The lab collaborates with several groups, including a recently formed MU-derived start-up company called Shift Pharmaceuticals, to develop new drugs, with a goal of moving closer toward clinical trials. Lorson served as the scientific director for FightSMA from 2004 to 2017 and serves on a variety of research advisory councils, including the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and SMA Trust.
As the associate dean, Lorson will provide administrative leadership, supervision and coordination of all research activities of the college, oversee research development, manage research resources, and ensure research compliance with requirements of MU’s Institutional Review Board, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, MU’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety, and laboratory animal welfare laws and regulations. He said he plans to continue to expand MU’s One Health/One Medicine initiative that Henry fostered during her tenure as associate dean.
“Under Dr. Lorson’s direction, CVM research is flourishing,” Henry said. “Our researchers have received awards totaling more than $11.6 million, with just more than $10 million being awarded by the NIH, since he began his duties in August. This positions MU to emerge as a global leader in translational medicine.”
It is essential to recognize the unique strengths within the CVM that allow us to leverage our clinical, diagnostic and basic research activities, Lorson said. “Helping to further enhance an already dynamic and collaborative research environment is an exciting opportunity and I look forward to this new challenge.”
Other responsibilities will include assisting the dean, department chairs, directors of graduate studies, and faculty in managing and strengthening graduate programs within the college, and serving as a liaison to the MU Office of Research and Graduate Studies.