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Home / A.T. Still Research Institute

About the A.T. Still Research Institute

The A.T. Still Research Institute (ATSRI) is leading the movement towards improved clinical effectiveness and efficiency, while advancing practitioner skills in treating the whole person. Since its inception, the A.T. Still Research Institute has been at the forefront of osteopathic manipulative medicine, dental care, and community public health.


Consistent with the tenets of osteopathic medicine, the mission of the A.T. Still Research Institute is to advance whole person healthcare and wellness through development and support of premier clinical and translational research.


The goal of the A.T. Still Research Institute is to explore and advance the scientific evidence base of osteopathic medicine and associated health professions within A.T. Still University.


  1. Establish an infrastructure and culture that promotes inter-professional research relevant to whole person healthcare.
  2. Support clinicians, scientists, and students in conducting clinically-relevant research.
  3. Facilitate the dissemination and translation of research outcomes via publications, teaching, and conferences.
  4. Collaborate with strategic external research centers/entities, both nationally and internationally.
  5. Provide research training and mentoring to develop preeminent clinician researchers.
  6. Develop ideas and prioritize research within the affiliated healthcare community promoting synergy within the changing environment.
  7. Focus research and become preeminent in the selected research areas.

  • History of ATSRI

    • Osteopathic and dental research

      The vision for the A.T. Still Research Institute (ATSRI) began in 1997 with the arrival of James J. McGovern, PhD, as president of Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (KCOM), now an entity of ATSU. Dr. McGovern came with a vision of transforming KCOM into a world-class, clinical research mecca. At the KCOM Convocation for the Second Century, two specific research focal areas of exceptional strength emerged—osteopathic manipulative medicine and family/senior healthcare.

      In 2001, after financial support through the Strategic Research Initiative, the A.T. Still Research Institute was created as an overarching research entity under which clinical and interdisciplinary research activities are organized. The ATSRI, the namesake of the first osteopathic research institute, is the first modern osteopathic research center and embodies the spirit and mission of the first osteopathic research institute directed by Louisa Burns, DO, as well as the professions leading research pioneers Drs. J.S. Denslow, I. M. Korr, M.O. Gutensohn.

      Building the infrastructure of the A.T. Still Research Institute

      The ATSRI has worked closely with the University’s Office of Research Support and the Interdisciplinary Research Committees to promote mechanisms to provide mentorship and internal funding for new researchers or new research directions. To this end, the University-wide research focus of which the ATSRI plays a major role has been built on the Disablement Model. The Disablement Model is derived from the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), developed by the World Health Organization. This framework is intended to encourage and promote interdisciplinary research efforts, to support ATSU’s osteopathic legacy and one of its core institutional value of “Advancing Whole Person Healthcare.”

      The following two University-wide Centers were originally established within the ATSRI and achieved significant success.

      • The Center for Healthy Aging Research, under the leadership of geriatrician Don Noll, D.O., initiated the profession’s most extensive and best supported multi-center osteopathic manipulation study on the elderly hospitalized patient with pneumonia. The Multicenter Osteopathic Pneumonia Study in the Elderly (MOPSE). Other research in this center included the effect of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) on patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and identifying immune responses secondary to OMT. This center has matured over time into the Center for Clinical Outcome Studies.
      • The Still Osteopathic Research Center was designated to evaluate and report on the effects of osteopathic diagnostic and therapeutic palpation. Significant advances have been achieved in this research area, developing novel methodologies using the latest technologies to establish reliable, objective, and valid methods to evaluate palpation. These technologies have been incorporated into the educational programs at four training institutions, including one international location. To facilitate the successes being achieved within this center, a 4M dollar endowment has been established between the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations and ATSU to support the work occurring within this center. Based on this center’s growth, it is now identified as the Center for the Advancement of Osteopathic Research Methodologies.

      Currently the Institute has flourished into three centers:

      Each of the three centers prioritize collaborative and interdisciplinary clinical research. They promote the establishment of ongoing collaborative research programs which span multiple disciplines within the university and globally, providing administrative and research support for clinical research projects.

      • Center for Research in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (CROMM)
        Directed by Brian Degenhardt, DO
      • Center for Oral Health Research (COHR)
        Directed by Ann Spolarich, RDH, PhD.
      • National Center for Community Health Research (NCCHR)
        Directed by Joy Lewis, DO, PhD, FACP.
  • Administrative team

    • The A.T. Still Research Institute's administrative team assists, mentors, and nurtures faculty, students, and particularly clinicians in applying for and conducting sponsored research projects, both intramurally and extramurally, thus developing a stronger research environment throughout the University. Apart from actively conducting research, the administrative team also contributes to the educational mission of the University by providing research training to interns, residents, faculty, and other osteopathic and biomedical degree programs.

      Mesa campus

      Marie Jackson

      Marie Jackson, PhD, MBA

      Wendy Hardina

      Wendy Hardina
      Operations Assistant

      Kirksville campus

      Jane Johnson

      Jane Johnson, MA
      Research Asst. Professor

      Corey Luebbering

      Corey Luebbering, MPH
      PBRN Coordinator

      Zane Sparks

      Zane Sparks, MS
      Research Innovation & Programming Manager

      Brian Degenhardt

      Brian Degenhardt, DO
      OHF Endowed Chair
      VP of Osteopathic Research


      G. Franklin

      G. Franklin, MBA
      Data Manager/Analyst

      Debosree Roy

      Debosree Roy, PhD
      Assistant Professor

      Center Directors

      Ann Spolarich

      Ann Spolarich, RDH, PhD, FSCDH
      COHR Center Director

      Brian Degenhardt

      Brian Degenhardt, DO, C-NMM/OMM
      CROMM Center Director

      Joy Lewis

      Joy Lewis, DO, PhD, FACP
      NCCHR Center Director

A.T. Still Research Institute (ATSRI)