OMRF: Science in a Culture of Mentoring


This COBRE Program focuses on supporting the development of immunology research performed in Oklahoma. Our long-term goal is to establish an immunology research center in Oklahoma that is staffed with outstanding basic and clinical scientists who can continue to perform nationally funded research after initial COBRE funding. To accomplish this goal, we have assembled mentoring teams to provide promising junior investigators with career and scientific advice. These mentoring teams comprise senior investigators in related fields, recently NIH-funded, previously COBRE-funded investigators and the junior investigators. Annual scientific reviews are also performed by external advisory committee members. Research by these junior investigators is assisted by supportive core facilities.

The ultimate result of this investment is a greater understanding of general immunology and specific disease processes that could translate into better therapeutics for treatment of immunologic disorders.


For over a decade, the COBRE “Science in a Culture of Mentoring” has nurtured researchers and contributed to the explosive expansion of clinical immunology research in Oklahoma.  The Administrative Core serves as a centralized governing resource for the COBRE by providing mentoring services to COBRE investigators and serving as a liaison between the Internal Advisory Committee, External Advisory Committee, institutional administration, and COBRE investigators.  The Core provides mentoring teams and administrative support to 16 COBRE junior scientists, implements and expands multidisciplinary enrichment programs, and supports collaborations between Oklahoma investigators statewide.

Judith James, MD, PhD, Core Leader

Linda Thompson, PhD, Associate Core Leader

COBRE Core Facilities

Clinical Core

The Clinical Core is a centralized resource for COBRE investigators that facilitates patient-oriented research training, patient/control identification, patient/control recruitment, sample processing, and access to large collections of patient/control samples with associated clinical, demographic, therapeutic, and disease activity measures. The Clinical Core’s expert investigators and personnel aid researchers in their patient-oriented investigations while upholding the highest standards of good clinical practice. The Core also supports the appropriate HIPAA and human subject training of all COBRE personnel.

This COBRE Core has also received funds from the National center for Research Resources to support the Clinical Core Community Engagement project.  This community activity identifies and recruits individuals who are willing to have their samples stored and tested for different genetic associations. These individuals may continue to participate if they are found to have interesting genotypes.  This project provides high quality, appropriately collected patient and control samples, as well as clinical information, to allow researchers to understand the underlying genetic and environmental influences which can lead to SLE.

Judith James, MD PhD, Senior Advisor

Human Monoclonal Antibody Core

The Human Monoclonal Antibody Core Facility is one of the few laboratories in the world that produces fully-human, full-length, antigen-specific antibodies for use in researching human immune responses.  The Core has achieved breakthroughs in antibody technology and produces high affinity protective antibodies to influenza, anthrax lethal toxin, and various S. pneumoniae polysaccharides.  The Core aims to support investigators by helping quantify the antibody secreting cell responses after vaccination and by generating human monoclonal antibodies to be characterized.  The Core is expanding these services to aid additional junior COBRE researchers at OMRF, OUHSC, Oklahoma State University, and outside Oklahoma.

Kenneth Smith, PhD, Core Leader

Linda Thompson, PhD, Senior Advisor

Immunophenotyping Core

The Immunophenotyping Core was created in 2010 to address investigators’ growing need to test biological responses in fresh human blood.  Information gathered from such samples helps researchers evaluate pathogenic mechanisms, develop new biomarkers of disease activity or prognostic outcomes, and explore the initial events in systemic autoimmunity and response to human vaccination. The Core expands upon tradition signal transduction and flow cytometric methods, embracing current state-of-the-art technologies for assessing multiple signal transduction parameters and cellular biomarkers in multiple cell types using multiparameter flow cytometry and high-content/high-throughput cellular bioassays.  The Core provides technology, reagents, and expertise to enhance investigators’ projects and research.

Joel Guthridge, PhD, Core Leader

Serum Analyte and Biomarker Core

The Serum Analyte and Biomarker Core provides investigators with human serum components to supplement research in disease development and pathology.  It aids investigators by providing access to technology, expertise, and training in high-throughput proteomic methods to assay autoantibodies, serum cytokines, specific antibody responses, serum hormone levels, and biochemical metabolites in human serum or other biofluids.

Melissa Munroe, MD, PhD, Core Leader