Dr. Roger Harris

Expert Exchange

Curiosity Drives Innovation, Collaboration, Connections

Dr. Roger Harris, a natural storyteller, will tell you that he’s always been curious. He’s also been able to nurture that insatiable curiosity into a profession that unravels mysteries in toxicity, explaining how chemicals interact with humans and the environment. He uses storytelling to help others understand complex scientific research and how it connects with everyday life.

Dr. Harris, Associate Vice President at MRIGlobal, is responsible for the Product Development and Repository Management and Medical Countermeasures Divisions. These two organizations support clients that include the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and commercial chemical and pharmaceutical firms. The programs he leads support research in cancer prevention, stroke, neurological disorders, human and animal disease; his teams also research how to identify and treat the effects of chemical and biological threats worldwide.

“Growing up on a farm gave me lots of opportunities to figure things out and understand how things work,” Dr. Harris said. “Things break. You have to repair and reengineer and in a rural area, you also learn to work with your neighbors to find solutions. On a personal level, I was also motivated to learn about human health and disease when I saw the impacts of diabetes and cancer in my own family.”

Dr. Harris received a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at Ithaca College, in Ithaca, N.Y., and then attended Pennsylvania State University where he earned a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry. Today, he is nationally recognized for his phytochemical research and contributions to organic and analytical chemistry applied to toxicity studies.

Dr. Harris joined MRIGlobal in 1986 as a staff chemist and has held a variety of positions of increasing responsibility. In nearly 30 years of research, Dr. Harris’s work has ranged from avian influenza research to the development of field crops for use as biomass feedstock. He has deep expertise in the design, evaluation, protocol preparation, and implementation of analytical methods for quantitation of chemicals in food and water.

In addition, Dr. Harris is extensively published and has authored dozens of technical publications, reports, and papers.

At MRIGlobal, Dr. Harris leads an initiative to advance vaccines for the human papilloma virus, the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Other current research areas include vaccines and therapies, wound treatments, and understanding neurological effects of disease.

“One of the things I love most about my work is the opportunity it gives me to collaborate with others,” he said. “We get to build upon the learnings and experience of others, bringing in new perspectives and sharing resources to innovate and solve challenging technical issues that affect the lives of millions of people.”

“The older I get, the earlier I rise, realizing there is much to do,” he said. “Every day, I tell my staff and myself to work hard, be smart, make today count.”

For more information, visit www.mriglobal.org.


John Spertus, MD, MPH, FAAC
Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO; Director, Health Outcomes Research, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute; Professor, Daniel J. Lauer Missouri Endowed Chair in Metabolism and Vascular Disease Research, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Jingsong Zhou, PhD
Research Investigator and Professor of Physiology, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences