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Emerging Principal Investigators: Dr. Rose Gelineau-Morel


Emerging Principal Investigators: Dr. Rose Gelineau-Morel

Headshot of Rose N. Gelineau-Morel, MD
Rose N. Gelineau-Morel, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine; Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Kansas School of Medicine
Full Biography

As Children’s Mercy Research Institute (CMRI) grows its research programs, the institute has welcomed many innovative, early-career investigators to its roster of researchers. These investigators bring their novel ideas, unique talents, and diverse interests to CMRI. The following profile is one in our series on emerging principal investigators.

Rose Gelineau-Morel, MD, Neurology, has always had an interest in how the brain works. “I remember in high school thinking about what makes people tick. It’s fascinating that everyone has a brain with the same anatomical structures, yet we are all such different individuals,” she said. “I also wondered if we understood the brain better, could we use that knowledge to help people whose brains may not work in the way that they want? That question drew me into neurology.”

After graduating from Baylor College of Medicine, spending a research year in neuroimaging at University of Oxford in England, and completing her child neurology residency at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Dr. Gelineau-Morel joined Children’s Mercy Kansas City (CMKC), where she is now faculty in the division of neurology.  She recently graduated as Chief Fellow from the T32 Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology Fellowship.

Dr. Gelineau-Morel specializes in movement disorders, and her research program focuses on developing precision therapeutics for patients with dystonia and cerebral palsy. 

Her clinical work with children with dystonia inspired her research. “The children and their families are very affected by their dystonia,” said Dr. Gelineau-Morel. “It takes away their ability to control their movements and robs them of quality of life. Current medications don't work as well as we want or have too many side effects, and there isn’t a consensus on what medications are best for which patients. That was the inspiration for this work. I want to combine a child’s brain imaging, genetics, and other individual characteristics to pick the most effective medicine at the best dose for them.”

Dr. Gelineau-Morel identifies several steps in developing precision therapeutics for treatment of dystonia in cerebral palsy, including: 

  • Identifying predictive biomarkers for dystonia.
  • Stratifying patients into subgroups to provide a targeted treatment. 
  • Administering an individualized dose.
  • Monitoring medication response through a response biomarker. 

Her manuscript about this research was published in 2023 in Neurology, with co-authors and mentors, CMRI Deputy Director J. Steven Leeder, PharmD, PhD, Clinical Pharmacology, and Christopher Smyser, MD, MS (Washington University in St. Louis).

One area that Dr. Gelineau-Morel focuses on is using neuroimaging to identify predictive biomarkers for dystonia. “I use neuroimaging to investigate brain networks of children with dystonia and cerebral palsy to see if there are differences that are predictive of dystonia that we could use to provide an early diagnosis and stratify patients for a particular intervention,” Dr Gelineau-Morel said. 

Her other research focus area is developing more targeted, individualized medications. She is investigating the drug trihexyphenidyl, first developed in the 1940s for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. It is one of the most highly prescribed medications for dystonia and cerebral palsy in children; however, many children experience treatment-limiting side effects. 

Her team’s research of trihexyphenidyl has revealed two distinct components which are metabolized differently and have different therapeutic efficacy. “We want to see if we can ‘purify’ the more effective component of trihexyphenidyl to provide a consistent medication exposure which will decrease side effects and improve therapeutic response,” she said. If successful, future research efforts would focus on applying for an investigational new drug status and conducting clinical trials.  

In addition to her work in precision therapeutics, Dr. Gelineau-Morel is part of the deep brain stimulation program at CMKC, and she has also collaborated on developing early diagnosis tools like the Kernicterus Spectrum Disorders Toolkit. Dr. Gelineau-Morel is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine.