The St. Louis region is fortunate to have an extraordinary concentration of world-class scientists in medical and plant biosciences, which makes it a world leader in academic and corporate bioscience research and development.

There are more plant scientists in St. Louis than in any other single location in the world. And St. Louis’ long history of medical breakthroughs includes leading the international effort to map the human genome. St. Louis is home to major multinational companies, bio venture capital funds and a robust pipeline of emerging enterprises in bioscience and other advanced technologies.

University & Institutional Research

St. Louis is home to first-rate research institutions engaged in leading-edge research in medicine, bioenergy, plant traits and numerous other areas of bioscience.

Washington University in St. Louis is an international leader in science and biomedical research. Its School of Medicine is the most selective in the U.S. and is consistently in the top four for National Institutes of Health funding. The Genome Institute led the international effort to map the human genome. The university has strong programs across all medical disciplines and has a fast-growing biomedical engineering program. The Siteman Cancer Center is designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.

BJC HealthCare is affiliated with Washington University School of Medicine teaching hospitals – Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospital – which are consistently ranked among the nation's best hospitals and research institutions.

Saint Louis University School of Medicine has many strengths, including its widely recognized expertise in immunology and bioterrorism, and is one of six sites designated by the National Institutes of Health for viral vaccine clinical trials.

The University of Missouri-St. Louis houses a leading international center for tropical ecology, the Center for Nanoscience, and the Medicinal Chemistry Group, which develops novel small-molecule therapies in a wide range of therapeutic areas including a special emphasis in the area of orphan and neglected diseases.

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is the world’s largest independent research institution dedicated to plant science and was recently ranked the eighth-best place to work in academia. Research is focused on enhancing plant nutrition, increasing agricultural production, reducing use of chemicals, and developing biofuels. The Center recently received $11.9 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Monsanto Fund and Howard G. Buffett Foundation for the Virus Resistant Cassava for Africa (VIRCA) project. The Center is the lead on a $49 million grant from the US Department of Energy for the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB), a nationwide collaboration of universities, companies, and federal labs.

The Missouri Botanical Garden, is one of the world's top botanical research and conservation institutions. Its Tropicos® database is the world’s largest database of plant information, and its Herbarium is one of the world’s outstanding research resources for plant specimens.

The Saint Louis Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Medicine researches diseases that affect threatened and endangered wildlife, and how they relate to domestic animals and public health.

Support for Startups & Entrepreneurs

Bioscience start-ups in the St. Louis region benefit from a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem that includes the BioGenerator, incubators and more. The BioGenerator has helped create more than 40 new start-ups, investing more than $5 million in the companies and leveraging $140 million in additional private investment. The Center for Emerging Technologies (CET), nationally recognized as one of the top U.S. incubators, has nurtured 45 bioscience and other advanced-technology companies. Other key resources available in the St. Louis region include: incubators, training and mentor services for entrepreneurs, and access to locally based venture capital funds.

Investment Capital

St. Louis start-ups that are commercializing bioscience discoveries enjoy broad support and access to capital. Since 2001, St. Louis has grown to nearly $1 billion in bioscience venture capital under local management. Area firms include: Prolog Ventures, RiverVest Venture Partners, Oakwood Medical Investors, Ascension Health Ventures, Santé Ventures, Advantage Capital Partners, and Vectis Healthcare and Life Science Fund, a fund of funds. Angel investor networks include the St. Louis Arch Angels and the Billiken Angels.


St. Louis has two bio research parks. The Center of Research Technology and Entrepreneurial Exchange (Cortex), a 240-acre urban bioscience district is located near the medical schools of Washington University and Saint Louis University, as well as near Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Bio-Research & Development Growth (BRDG) Park provides wet labs and related space on the suburban campus of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, offering emerging companies access to top plant scientists and to greenhouses, growth chambers and other resources. There are several bio incubators with lab space: the Center for Emerging Technologies (CET), an affiliate of Cortex, has nurtured 45 bioscience companies with a 90 percent success rate. Innovative Technology Enterprises (ITE), on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus, offers wet lab space and other state-of-the-art infrastructure, as well as access to the expertise of university faculty and students. The Helix Center, near the Danforth Center and BRDG Park, which offers affordable office and lab space and access to faculty expertise.

Workforce Development

To secure the future vitality of its human and infrastructure resources, St. Louis is training the next generation of scientists, biomedical engineers, physicians and entrepreneurs, as well as lab technicians, information technology professionals and industry-knowledgeable service providers. Our region is home to the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, which consistently graduates one of the largest classes of new pharmacists in the nation. The Center for Plant and Life Sciences at St. Louis Community College, co-located at Bio-Research & Development Growth (BRDG) Park, offers degree and certificate programs for technicians in biotech, chemical technology, biopharmaceutical manufacturing and nanotechnology.

Business & Industry

Monsanto Company is the world’s largest plant biotech company, with 21,000 employees in 66 countries.

Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, an international producer of chemical and biochemical products, also has a growing life sciences division which commercialized the world’s first targeted knockout rat and Zinc Finger Nuclease targeted gene-editing technology. Both were recently named top-five innovations of the year by The Scientist magazine.

Express Scripts, a Fortune 100 company, is a leader in pharmacy-benefit management.

Covidien Pharmaceuticals, which evolved from Mallinckrodt, focuses on imaging, nuclear medicine, cardiovascular interventions and generic drug production.

Pfizer, with its rich history in our region, has given rise to a growing cluster of contract research organizations (CROs) and contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs), populated with industry-seasoned experts, offering emerging companies affordable options for product development.

Solae, a joint venture of DuPont and Bunge, is a world leader in developing soy-based technologies, food ingredients and other products.

Novus International is a global supplier of animal feed additives.

In addition to these larger, more mature corporations, the St. Louis region has a robust pipeline of bioscience start-ups and emerging enterprises. They include companies developing new medical therapeutics, diagnostics, instruments and devices, advances in plant genomics, alternative fuels and specialized contract research organizations.