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College of Engineering’s bioinformatics program receives $1 million boost

Dianne and Paul Shumaker share a smile during the Jan. 30 announcement of their $1 million gift to the CoE. Photo by Melinda Sheffler

The MU College of Engineering’s bioinformatics program has received a financial boost from an alumnus that college administrators believe will give them the ability to attract the “very best” in the field.

Paul and Dianne Shumaker are donating $1 million to the college to support research into the life–saving field, which uses computer analysis to improve medical care. With the donation, the CoE will create the “Shumaker Professorship of Bioinformatics” in its computer science department, said Robert Tzou, the computer science department’s interim chair.

“An endowed professorship gives us the ability to attract the very best researchers,” said Tzou during a Jan. 30 announcement of the gift.

The post will be filled by computer science Assistant Professor Chi-Ren Shyu, who has created two computer databases already in use throughout the world.

College leaders said the donation also will finance a scholarship program for graduate students—called the “Shumaker Fellows”—and the creation of a “Shumaker Lecture Series on Bioinformatics,” which will encourage experts from around the world to share their research with their peers.

“We will use this gift to not only provide scholarships to well-deserving students, but it also will help advance our knowledge in the medical fields and create an outlet to encourage collaboration among the best minds in the world,” CoE Dean Jim Thompson said.

Shumaker, who received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia, helped found a NASDAQ-100 Index company called Garmin International Inc. Garmin manufactures navigation and communication equipment using information generated by a U.S. network of satellites, called the global positioning system (GPS).

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