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The Chickasaw Nationhas taken a lead role in supporting health initiatives throughout the State of Oklahoma. As part of that effort, the tribal nation, headquartered in Ada, this spring made a significant gift to support the expansion of cancer research programs at OMRF. The donation will create the Chickasaw Nation Laboratory for Cancer Research, a newly renovated lab facility where OMRF scientists will focus on identifying therapeutics for cancer.

“We are investing in this research laboratory because we strongly believe the innovative work being done by the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation will make a meaningful difference in the fight against this devastating disease,” says Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby. “We are confident we will see a great return on our investment in the form of cancer treatment strategies that will make a positive impact for decades to come.”

The laboratory will be home to a team of internationally recognized cancer researchers who were recently recruited to OMRF from the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Over the past three decades, OMRF researchers have made important contributions to the understanding of cancers such as leukemias and lymphomas. Discoveries at OMRF have also given birth to an experimental brain cancer treatment that’s currently undergoing clinical trials in patients at the University of Oklahoma’s Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center.

Still, according to Dr. David Jones, who joined OMRF last year to lead the new cancer initiative, there is much more to be done. In particular, he says, OMRF cancer researchers will focus their efforts on developing new “targeted” treatments for breast and colon cancers.

“We want to use the technologies at our disposal to more precisely understand the causes of disease in patients and then find the tools that will be most effective in their treatment,” says Jones, who holds the Jeannine Tuttle Rainbolt Endowed Chair in Cancer Research at OMRF. “And thanks to the tremendous faith and support of the Chickasaw Nation and Gov. Anoatubby, we will be able to do that.”

The gift comes on the heels of a new partnership between OMRF and the Chickasaw Nation to provide rheumatology care to the tribal clinic while helping researchers better understand the role race plays in rheumatoid arthritis and related diseases.

“We are extremely excited about all the ways in which the Chickasaw Nation and OMRF are collaborating,” says OMRF President Dr. Stephen Prescott. “By working together, we can make an impact in the fight against cancer and other devastating diseases.”