Friends of Scottish Rite
2019 Honoree


We were particularly honored to recognize Károly Mirnics as our 2019 Friend of the Scottish Rite award recipient. This award started in 2009 as a way to recognize an individual who has made a difference to our fraternity, but quickly became an award that recognized someone who's contributions to the community have made a significant difference to the mission of and the families served by the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute and their partners.

Dr. Mirnics obtained his M.D. from the University of Novi Sad School of Medicine in his hometown in 1986 and his Ph.D. from Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Mirnics established his own laboratory in 2000 at the Department of Psychiatry at University of Pittsburgh, where he rose to the rank of associate professor in 2006. In 2006, his laboratory moved to the Department of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. In 2010, he was named James G. Blakemore Professor of Psychiatry, and he also served as the departmental vice chair for research and associate director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.

Dr. Mirnics has a broad background in molecular neurobiology of brain diseases, with more than 20 years of experience in various molecular biology techniques. His research group is actively pursuing projects that include transcriptome changes across human brain diseases, animal models of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders, effects of maternal immune activation and environment on gene expression, and neuroprotection by activity.

His innovativeness and willingness to explore unconventional research are best illustrated by the following: he was the first person to perform a DNA microarray analysis of brain tissue, pioneered molecular pathway analyses, characterized immune system dysfunction in schizophrenia and autism, pioneered in situ proteomics in neuroscience, developed a new microarray platform, identified neuroprotection of enriched environment in Alzheimer’s Disease models, holds a patent for RGS4 as a schizophrenia susceptibility gene, and developed a novel transgenic mouse technology, using BAC-driven, miRNA-mediated silencing in vivo. He is very collaborative, and he has worked with over 30 groups of investigators over the last 10 years.

Thanks to the dedication Dr. Mirnics has brought to serving Nebraskans with developmental disabilities, organizations like the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute continue to expand their mission and presence, serving more children throughout Nebraska. At present, Dr. Mirnics is leading a $90 million dollar campaign to move the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute to a new, modern building on the Ak-Sar-Ben campus which will expand their ability to serve all people with disabilities.

Past Recipients of the Friends of Scottish Rite award




Rene Ferdinand spent his 40-year career working with children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families. Rene served on the boards of many autism and professional organizations including the Autism Spectrum Disorders Network and the Autism State Collaborative. As Executive Director of the Autism Center, Rene worked to develop and expand their early intervention program, Autism Care for Toddlers.



Annie Bird has been a passionate advocate for children with disability for many years. She has served children as a speech-language pathologist, and she has served as a Board member and Past-President of the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute Board of Directors.



Wayne A. Stuberg, Ph.D, PT, PCS, FAPTA - Professor and Associate Director of the Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation (MMI). He is the Director of the University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) program at MMI and currently serves as a member of the Board of Health for the State of Nebraska


Patty Kircher - RiteCare mom and advocate. Patty has been active in numerous community organizations and activities, including WalkRite for RiteCare, the Girl Scouts, and the American Red Cross.

Denise Gehringer - RiteCare mom and advocate for Nebraskans with disabilities. Denise has taken leadership roles with the Down Syndrome Alliance of hte Midlands, the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute Board, the Rose Theater, and the TOPS Soccer program, a soccer league for children of all abilities.



Korey Stading, M.S., CCC-SLP - RiteCare Clinician at the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute. Korey has been nationally recognized for her research and work with RiteCare children.



Del Weber, Ph.D. - Retired Chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, former Board member for the Scottish Rite, and active supporter of Scottish Rite philanthropies



Harold "Hal" Daub - Mayor of Omaha, Congressman from Nebraska's 2nd District, longtime volunteer, Friends of Scottish Rite committee member and Honorary Chair, and passionate supporter of Scottish Rite Foundation of Omaha philanthropies



Paul Laikko, M.S., CCC-SLP - RiteCare Clinician at the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute



Marsha Sullivan, M.S., CCC-SLP - Director of the RiteCare Speech and Language Clinic




Dr. Bruce Buehler - Longtime Director of the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute