2014 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll
J.C. Harmon High School, 1976
Other Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Attended: T.A. Edison Elementary and Rosedale Junior/Senior High
Christi Walter’s work is intended to lead to healthier lives. Her current work is focused on addressing how DNA repair in cells can sustain normal biological functions, and how changes contribute to disease. The areas of biology impacted by her work include stem cell biology, reproductive biology, aging, cancer and genetics.
Walter is professor and chair of the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology at the University of Texas Health Science Center. She holds a joint appointment in research and development at the South Texas Veteran’s Health Care System. She has been an active independent researcher since 1988, and is one of only a few women in the U.S. to chair a department in a medical school.
She finds her work gratifying because it allows her to make a difference while also satisfying her own curiosity as to how things function, and to simultaneously cultivate the appetite of students fascinated by science.
It was her high school biology teacher, Mr. Rogers, who ignited Walter’s fervor for the field of science. His energy and enthusiasm in the classroom intrigued her. He mentored her first independent lab experience, and it enabled her to see that she was passionate about doing science.
Walter was valedictorian of her graduating class at Harmon, but her shyness was a challenge while she was going through school. For that reason, she opted to stay close to home for college. She attended Rockhurst University, where her interest in biology continued to be nurtured. She went on to Florida State University to work on her Ph.D. She fulfilled her postdoctoral fellowship at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, which is the foundation for her current lab work.
Walter is a lecturer in genes and development and program director for the graduate program in cellular & structural biology. She is past president of the Texas Genetics Society and received their Distinguished Service Award in 2008. She is a member of the American Federation of Aging Research National Scientific Advisory Council.
In 2007, the University of Texas Health Science Center presented Walter with the Faculty Senate Administration Leadership Award for her administrative leadership.
She feels that one of her greatest accomplishments is training Ph.D. students in her lab.