Montana State University

Internationally recognized stem cell scientist to lead MSU's research enterprise

October 23, 2013 -- MSU News Service

Renee Reijo Pera, director of Stanford University’s Center for Reproductive and Stem Cell Biology as well as its Center for Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research and Education, has been named MSU’s new vice president for research, creativity, and technology transfer. Photo courtesy of Renee Reijo Pera.   High-Res Available

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An internationally recognized stem cell scientist from one of the nation’s largest research universities has been selected to lead Montana State University’s research enterprise.

Renee Reijo Pera, director of Stanford University’s Center for Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research and Education and the Center for Reproductive and Stem Cell Biology as well as the doctoral program in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, has been named MSU’s new vice president for research, creativity, and technology transfer, university officials announced Wednesday. Reijo Pera will assume her duties at MSU on Jan. 15.

“Dr. Reijo Pera’s experience in biomedical research is an excellent fit for MSU, where nearly 40 percent of all our research is related to biomedicine,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “MSU is the state’s largest research enterprise, and I am confident Dr. Reijo Pera will take every area to new heights including engineering, the physical sciences, agriculture, social sciences and nursing, as well as scholarship and creative endeavors in the humanities and the arts.”

The university’s technology transfer office, which moves research discoveries made at MSU into the private sector, will also benefit from Reijo Pera’s experience and leadership, Cruzado said.

“Dr. Reijo Pera is an inspirational and engaged leader. Her mission is to grow and strengthen all of MSU’s research, and she has the world-class credentials to do it,” Cruzado said.

Reijo Pera has received numerous awards throughout her career, including being named one of 20 Influential Women in America by Newsweek magazine in 2006. In 2010, her work in imaging algorithms was recognized by Time magazine as one of the top 10 biomedical breakthroughs. She has been at Stanford since 2007. The university is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 research universities in the nation with a $1.2 billion annual research portfolio. MSU’s research portfolio hovers around $100 million annually, but joins Stanford as one of only 108 universities nationally with “very high research activity” as determined by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

“I am truly honored be chosen as the next vice president for research, creativity and technology transfer; the position is a perfect fit for me and Montana State University,” Reijo Pera said. “I look forward to joining the outstanding faculty and am confident that the future of the research enterprise is fundamentally strong. I anticipate that, in the coming years, we will further strengthen the foundation and launch initiatives that will insure Montana State University remains in the top tier and provides great opportunities to the citizens of Montana for generations to come.”

In addition to her work as director of the two research centers and doctoral program, Reijo Pera is also George D. Smith Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and the departments of genetics and obstetrics and gynecology. Her research is aimed at understanding the genetics of human development and in characterizing the basic properties of normal and disease-bearing human pluripotent stem cells, especially their ability to differentiate to all cell types.

Reijo Pera's work has garnered more than $28 million in research awards, including several ongoing grants from the National Institutes of Health. She has also served as a consultant, adviser, founder, or on the board of directors of numerous private, donor-backed initiatives that moved research discoveries into the field of medical applications.

Reijo Pera received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin at Superior, a master’s degree in entomology from Kansas State University, a doctorate in molecular cell biology from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and postdoctoral training in human genetics at the Whitehead Institute for BioMedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.

Reijo Pera will succeed Tom McCoy, who left MSU in July to become the vice president for research and economic development at the University of North Texas in Denton. Since then, Anne Camper has served as MSU’s interim vice president for research, creativity, and technology transfer. Camper will return to her position as an associate dean in the MSU College of Engineering. 

Contact: Tracy Ellig, MSU University Communications, 406-994-5607 or