Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

June 25, 2015 Volume 36, No. 32

Internationally recognized life sciences researcher to join MU

Alternate text

Lloyd W. Sumner's research focuses on plant chemistry and how it influences plant growth, health and disease resistance. Photo courtesy of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.

Lloyd W. Sumner will establish and direct the University of Missouri Metabolomics Center

A distinguished researcher in the life sciences will join MU’s Department of Biochemistry in January 2016, administrators announced Tuesday.

Professor Lloyd W. Sumner brings expertise in the leading-edge technology of metabolomics, the large-scale study of metabolites, which are substances produced during metabolism in living things. By studying metabolomics, scientists gain crucial information on the complex biology of health and disease in plants, animals and humans.

“I’ve been very familiar with the high quality of research conducted at MU, and I have been working with several of the plant researchers personally for many years,” Sumner said. “I’m also impressed and encouraged by the diversity of disciplines and colleges at the university, such as having a medical school, veterinary college and agricultural college all on one campus. This opens the opportunity for great research collaboration.”

MU continues to build its global reputation in research and teaching by hiring high-impact faculty like Sumner, thereby raising its profile as a public land-grant research institution and member of the Association of American Universities (AAU).

Sumner has been hired as a professor of biochemistry and will be the founding director of the University of Missouri Metabolomics Center, which will be devoted to interdisciplinary research in this important field. Scientists across campus will conduct life sciences research in the center, which will be established and expanded in stages on the second floor of the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center on the MU campus.

Metabolomics can be applied to research all life sciences areas including plant biology, systems biology, whole organism biology, biomedical sciences and veterinary sciences. Sumner’s area of expertise is plant chemistry and how it influences plant growth, health and disease resistance.

Raised in Oklahoma, Sumner received his doctorate in analytical chemistry in 1993 from Oklahoma State University. After six years at Texas A&M, Sumner joined The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Okla., in 1999, where he is a professor of analytical biochemistry in the Division of Plant Biology and operates a research program centered around metabolomics.

“Dr. Sumner has a proven ability to address important biological questions and advance the technology of metabolomics,” said Gerald L. Hazelbauer, Curators Professor and chair of MU’s biochemistry department. “The establishment of the University of Missouri Metabolomics Center means a major increase in research capacity at MU that is likely to enhance the success of many areas of life science research.”

MU has been interested in establishing a metabolomics center for some time, Hazelbauer said. A major barrier has been difficulty recruiting a scientist with the research and administrative expertise to lead the endeavor. Many colleges and universities compete for only a handful of qualified scientists.

Sumner will bring to MU an experienced team of metabolomics researchers from the Noble Foundation, including Zhentian Lei, Daniel Wherritt and Feng Qiu.

Sumner is a former president and Lifetime Honorary Fellow of the Metabolomics Society, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and president-elect of the Phytochemistry Society of North America. He has published more than 120 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters.