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Research Impact

Research at Saint Louis University is steeped in more than 200 years of history that guides our future. From the discovery of the life-saving properties of vitamin K to the development of groundbreaking vaccines, SLU researchers explore new frontiers and tackle the toughest questions of our time.

Igniting Discovery, Transforming Lives

The work of SLU research is compassionate, transformative and innovative.

As one of only nine Catholic universities with a “higher” or highest” research activity designation from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, SLU’s research strengths span the academic spectrum, from drug discovery to geospatial technology, from health care law to the digital humanities. SLU is home to one of only nine federally funded Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEU) in the United States, placing the university on the frontline of the global fight against infectious diseases.

All of this research reflects our University's Jesuit values and our desire to care for the most vulnerable members of our society. The work of our researchers addresses the greatest issues facing our world today, while striving to help our local community in St. Louis grow into a more equitable and innovative one.

The SLU Research Institute was established in fall 2018 to support this transformative work, following the largest philanthropic gift in the University’s 200-year history: $50 million from Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield. Over the course of 10 years, the Research Institute will place SLU on the path to becoming the world’s leading Jesuit research university. Since it's establishment, the Research Institute has put millions of dollars into the hands of our researchers and enabled the university to recruit and retain researchers of the highest caliber. 

Innovative Solutions

In 2002, Saint Louis University joined visionaries who predicted St. Louis could become a hub of bioscience and technology innovation, founding Cortex, an innovation community fueling scientific discovery, entrepreneurism and economic growth in the region. Our Research Innovation Group is located in the heart of the Cortex and turns SLU discoveries into startups that aim to cure deadly pulmonary fibrosis, alleviate pain without addiction, treat cancer, diagnose hepatitis C and fuel airplanes more efficiently.

In May 2019, we joined our partners at Washington University in St. Louis in establishing COLLAB, a shared space in the heart of Cortex to harness our research and talent generation capabilities to accelerate innovation and growth.

Areas of Research Distinction

SLU is a comprehensive research university, and our research interests span the academic spectrum. Below is just a sample of our unique areas of distinction. For more information, learn more about the latest news out of SLU Research and follow us on Twitter.

Addiction and Opioids

The ongoing opioid crisis is one of the most devastating public health crises of the 21st century, with the number of opioid-related deaths quadrupling in the last 20 years. At Saint Louis University, an interdisciplinary group of researchers is working toward compassionate and innovative solutions.

Research in Focus: Addiction and Opioids


As the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to cause disruptions across the country, researchers at Saint Louis University are mobilizing to curb the pandemic and mitigate its effects. Over 40 student and faculty researchers from 20 departments are studying this pandemic and its broader effects. 

SLU has launched a COVID-19 Research website to share up-to-date information on SLU's research and impact. 

COVID-19 Research at SLU


Saint Louis University is best equipped to tackle the food-related challenges facing our city and our world today. Food research at SLU brings together leading experts from a variety of fields, from the national and social sciences to the humanities, to answer this question: How can we continue to feed a growing population in an equitable and sustainable manner?

Research in Focus: Food

Geospatial Science and Technology

Geospatial science is a multibillion-dollar industry, and researchers at Saint Louis University are leading the charge to turn St. Louis into a national hub for geospatial research and innovation.

Research in Focus: Geospatial Science and Technology


Who are we? Why are we here? What do we value as a society? These are just a few of the big questions that researchers and scholars in the humanities are tackling at Saint Louis University to help us better understand ourselves and our place in the world.

Research in Focus: the Humanities

Vaccine Development

Saint Louis University is a national leader in vaccine research and development. SLU researchers in this area are on the frontlines of the fight against several deadly diseases, including COVID-19. 

Research in Focus: Vaccine Development

Big Ideas

SLU is in the process of identifying and investing in collaborative programs that will establish SLU as a leading destination for research, training, and innovation in a given topic or area.

The Big Ideas competition builds on this goal of creating university-wide strategic research priorities. Supported by the Research Institute, the competition offers increasing levels of investment for projects that demonstrate broad faculty engagement, strong leadership, and compelling research plans.

There have been several rounds of the Big Ideas competition thus far. The first round ended in April 2018; eight projects received planning grants and four were endorsed by the Research Growth Committee. The latest round ended in May 2019; two projects received planning grants and three were endorsed by the Research Growth Committee. A comprehensive list of these projects can be viewed here.

The Geospatial Institute (GeoSLU), which launched in fall 2019, began as one of these Big Ideas. Since its launch, GeoSLU has brought together experts in the interdisciplinary field of geospatial science and attracted significant research funding to the University.