UMKC Innovation Center partners with the university and the community to spark and sustain entrepreneurial efforts within our region and across the country.

KCSourceLink connects KC entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

MOSourceLink connects Missouri entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

Whiteboard2Boardroom connects entrepreneurs and businesses to technologies available for licensing.

Digital Sandbox KC provides early-stage proof-of-concept support for digital products.

Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center provides technical assistance to startup and existing businesses.

ScaleUP! Kansas City helps businesses with revenues around $200K scale toward their first $1 million.

Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers helps local businesses obtain government contracts.

KCInvestED helps investors learn more about investing in KC startups.

SourceLink® helps communities nationwide build vibrant and vital entrepreneurial ecosystems.
UMKC Innovation Center

University of Missouri-Kansas City - Vision Research Center

The Vision Research Center at UMKC (VRC) is the Department of Ophthalmology’s research arm, offering comprehensive research opportunities—including basic research, translational research, and clinical trials– to residents and fellows. At the VRC, we maintain a strong tradition of being the first in the development of new clinical therapies and new tools that aid clinicians in treating patients who suffer from eye conditions. The Department has served as a host site for numerous sponsored clinical trials since its early days. It was the first in the world to successfully perform excimer laser surgery with a commercial instrument. Founded in 2007 with the establishment of the Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research, the VRC’s Basic and Translational Research Programs are at the cutting edge of vision research, attracting the brightest minds in the field to test new ideas and concepts using state-of-the-art equipment to develop cures for diseases that affect the retina, including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. The effects of these blinding diseases will continue to impact a significantly greater number of people. With an aging Baby Boomer population, and the prevalence of eye-related disorders due to age, diabetes, and other conditions, the work of the VRC is paramount. Our research is vigorous. Not only do we test new ideas and concepts in our basic research, we also take knowledge and treatments already available and improve them through translational research. In this way, our research goes from bench to bedside in the form of therapies and techniques to improve patients’ lives. Our current research efforts for age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma will allow us to advance the research further in the hope of developing cures.


The primary focus of UMKC School of Medicine's Vision Research Center is translational research, i.e. to turn new fundamental discoveries in basic research into practical tools for the treatment and prevention of eye diseases.

Institutional Uniqueness: UMKC is one of fewer than 30 research universities in the U.S. to have Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Nursing all on the same campus.  The diverse capabilities of researchers from these different academic units have facilitated the development of multidisciplinary research centers, including the Vision Research Center and others. The Vision Research Center brings clinicians and scientists together with the primary purpose of bridging the gaps between basic science, drug discovery, bioengineering, clinical research and clinical care for the prevention and treatment of eye diseases. 

The UMKC School of Medicine's Vision Research Center's goal is to accelerate new discoveries and convert these discoveries into therapies serving those afflicted with these eye diseases. The Vision Research Center leverages existing resources and established extramurally funded programs in three key areas of research:

  • discovery of novel basic science mechanisms that underlie the function of the normal and diseased visual system and that generate the urgently needed rationale for novel innovate high-impact therapies
  • development of novel therapies and drugs through translational research resulting from extramural support by the National Institutes of Health and other agencies supporting eye research, from collaborations with companies targeting eye diseases and from formal collaborations with the life science community in the Kansas City area
  • Development of novel diagnostic strategies and their incorporation in state-of-the-art clinical research building on the VRC’s national leadership status in these areas and fast-tracking outcomes-validated new medicines and therapies.

The UMKC School of Medicine's Vision Research Center brings together basic science and clinical investigators in a clinical and scientific undertaking to advance translational research and personalized medicine by empowering creative and energetic scientists and clinicians from several institutions and departments.  They work together to build integrated research programs in eye research, to generate new knowledge about pathogenesis and treatment of visual disorders, and to translate these findings into pioneering initiatives in the study and treatment of eye diseases and injury. 

The UMKC School of Medicine's Vision Research Center, a well-established collaboration among several UMKC schools and Kansas City Medical Centers, targets one goal with its interdisciplinary synergy: to better diagnose, prevent, and treat eye diseases and to make a difference in the lives of tens of millions of people through translational research and comprehensive patient care. The center’s nationally recognized excellence in research, patient care and medical education contribute to UMKC’s strengths in the life sciences.


  • UMKC clinical trials
  • RPB funding of individual PI’s
  • Expansion of NIH funding (collaboration with UMKC SoP, MU)
  • NSF funding (collaboration with SBS)
  • DoD funding (collaboration with MU, UMKC Shock & Trauma Ctr)
  • New hires (joint hires / joint appointments; SoP, SCE)
  • Leveraging success in philanthropy
  • Existing partnerships with private companies at multiple levels private practice, clinical research, instrument development, diagnostics development and drug development.
  • Active collaborations and contractual agreements with companies in the pharmaceutical industry, the optics, electronics and nanotechnology fields
  • Proven track record of intellectual property development and marketing of products (with companies in TX, CO, OR, WA, CA); IP development activity 2010-2012: 38 IP disclosures filed through UMKC's Technology Transfer Office; 6 Industry collaborations initiated through UMKC's Technology Transfer Office: 6, one NIH funded (SBIR); 3 provisional patent applications filed with USPTO
  • History of over $44 million in NIH and other extramural funding for basic and translational research
  • No comparable initiatives in the eye and vision research field in the region
  • Generation of high-end high-skill level jobs

Contact information:

Peter Koulen, Ph.D., Professor, Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research

Director of Basic Research, Vision Research Center, Department of Ophthalmology

University of Missouri - Kansas City, School of Medicine

P: 816-404-1824  |  F: 816-404-1825  | e-mail:


Business Planning

  • Business Plan Consulting, Development and Review
  • Demographic/Census Data
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Forming a Business
  • Identification/Research of Foreign Markets
  • Market Plan Development
  • Market Research

Internship Programs and Student Services

  • Student Marketing Projects
  • Student Research Projects

Libraries and Research Organizations

  • Industry Specific Research/Expertise

Management Issues

  • Leadership/Professional Development
  • Recruiting Assistance

Manufacturing, High Tech, Life Sciences Development

  • Commercialization
  • Health and Safety Training
  • High Tech Development
  • Life Sciences Development
  • Science/Bioscience Seminars
  • Technology Transfer


  • Market Plan Development and Training
  • Market Research
  • Student Marketing Projects


  • One-on-One Counseling
  • Peer Mentoring

Product Development

  • Patent Information
  • Prototype Development

Public Policy and Government Relations

  • Small Business Policy

Starting a Business

  • Feasibility Studies
  • Forming a Business
  • Startup Business Counseling


  • Business Plan Training and Assistance
Primary ContactPeter Koulen
Address2411 Holmes St
UMKC School of Medicine
Kansas City, MO 64108
Phone(816) 404-1824