WEST DES MOINES, IOWA (November 13, 2023) — Pravin Mishra PhD MBA is a scientific visionary with a rare combination of experiences in bench, translational, and clinical science, academia, government, partnerships, and new strategic business development. In October, the seasoned administrator joined Des Moines University (DMU) as executive director of research.

He has an ambitious mission: to elevate the university's research enterprise, all with the goal of enhancing human health.

"I've worked in numerous settings and big institutions. Coming to DMU gives me the opportunity and a more intimate environment where I can utilize my experiences in a way that will take DMU to the next level," he says.

Mishra most recently was the chief operating officer at the Oklahoma State University Research Foundation — Prairie One, where he established a nationally-competitive public-health laboratory and significantly contributed to the One Health mission of Oklahoma State University. He helped the state advance pandemic-specific priorities, including facilitating seamless COVID-19 testing and developing an artificial intelligence-driven pathogen monitoring/pandemic preparedness dashboard as a principal investigator funded by a cooperative agreement with the USDA. He also established and expanded partnerships with internal, local, and national partners to support priorities of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

Before that role, he served as director of the Clinical Translational Science Resource at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center; founding director of a research and development center at Intermountain Healthcare, Utah; and principal investigator and fellow at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health.

Mishra credits research he performed earlier in his career as a researcher at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey for propelling him toward translational research: He discovered that human mesenchymal stem cells, which possess well-accepted therapeutic potential in regenerative medicine, also have an unexpected "dark side" as cancer-supporting cells.

"Stem cells are usually considered good, friendly cells for the body. I showed that if you put those friendly cells in a cancerous environment, they can support cancer to grow and become advanced," he says. The prestigious journal Cancer Research published his findings in 2008, featuring them on the cover and highlight section.

Mishra's path evolved into leadership positions where he supervised multiple research projects, including clinical trials, drug discovery, and genomics-product development. But in every position, he kept the "human element" at the center of his work.

"Translating and helping ideas to advance patient care and improve patient health gives me more satisfaction. I always wanted to do research in a way that can translate into patient care in a short span of time or into a product that can help patients effectively," he says.

"That is what gets me up in the morning — how my innovation and leadership can support research or collaborations that translate to clinical treatments, candidate drug discovery or drug development to impact patient lives."

His vision for DMU's research enterprise features creating an "umbrella" to foster interdisciplinary research and educational integration, encourage collaborative efforts across all disciplines at the university, and develop meaningful affiliations with external organizations. He wants to spark innovation that will secure federal, corporate, foundation, and philanthropic partnerships and funding for translational and patient-focused research.

"I want to develop and sustain an infrastructure that will support interdisciplinary research, interprofessional education, and clinical care since we have a successful clinical arm and public health program. I want that infrastructure to be integrated collaboratively with all three DMU colleges," he says. "My focus also is on creating more opportunities for students and faculty."

Engaging students in research, he says, is critical both to their knowledge and to future scientific discovery.

"Having done research firsthand gives students the opportunity to understand things in real-time," he says.

Other Things to Know About Pravin Mishra

  • He's made notable contributions to stem-cell guidelines and the development of clinical trials and genomic products benefiting cancer patients.
  • He has contributed significantly to discoveries, enhanced practices, and product and technology development in informatics, pandemic preparedness, digital health, agricultural practices, and other areas.
  • He holds six patents and has contributed to others, has been published in international peer-reviewed publications, and has given more than sixty invited lectureships and presentations.
  • His numerous awards in research and teaching include the National Cancer Institute Director's Innovation Award, presented to him by NCI director and Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr Harold Varmus.
  • He and his wife, Sheetal, have three children, ages thirteen, ten, and five.

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