Dr. Karen Staehling

Dr. Karen Shaehling Dr. Karen Staehling, Raytown High School, Class of 1986

Dr. Karen Staehling graduated from Raytown High in 1986 and was voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” She graduated Summa Cum Laude with honors in biology from William Jewell College in 1990 and received a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology in 1995 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

During her graduate work, she was the lead author on five published papers including a paper in the prestigious journal, “Nature” that solved a 50-year developmental biology mystery about mesoderm development (an embryonic tissue).

From 1999 to 2004, as a team scientist at Celltech in Seattle (formerly Chiroscience), Dr. Staehling discovered the gene mutation that causes Van Buchem’s, contributing to the advancements of bone density treatments for osteoporosis. She also served as the Genetics Lead, designing a program developing mice whose gene expression could lead to novel drugs in humans. Nearly a third of their genetics team’s discoveries went to the testing phase.

Upon her hiring as Head of Molecular Biology at the Stowers Institute in 2005, she was able to help restore the departments’ reputation as an excellent technology center, growing the number of scientists under her direction from four to seventeen and greatly increasing the value of the institute’s cutting edge approach to technology and research.

Karen co-founded a non-profit professional organization called the Midwest Association of Core Directors to foster close interaction between regional core facilities. She served on the board from 2010 to 2016. She has served in various roles in Christian youth education at Peace Lutheran Church, including Sunday school teacher.

In 2018, Karen was one of three alumni honored with the “Citation of Achievement” from William Jewell College. She is also an adjunct faculty member at the Kansas City Art Institute where she teaches a custom-designed science course.