|At its semiannual board meeting Thursday, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation added two new members to its board of directors: Tulsa Mayor Kathryn Taylor and James Morris II, a retired Oklahoma City insurance executive. The board also honored OMRF researchers Swapan Nath, Ph.D., and Fletcher Taylor Jr., M.D.
An attorney, Kathryn Taylor began her legal career at the law firm of Hartzog, Conger, Cason & Neville before becoming executive vice president and general counsel of Dollar-Thrifty Car Rental. She later served as partner in the law firm of Crowe & Dunlevy. In 2003, Gov. Brad Henry appointed her to be Oklahoma’s Secretary of Commerce and Tourism, a post she held until she was elected the 38th Mayor of Tulsa in April.
Morris is a graduate of Oklahoma State University. He is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Signator Financial Network, now known as the John Hancock Financial Network.
At the meeting, the board also presented Nath with the Merrick Award for Outstanding Research, given annually to a junior member of OMRF’s faculty whose research is flourishing. The award was established in 1981 by Elizabeth Merrick Coe through the Merrick Foundation of Ardmore.
Nath is a biostatistician whose research focuses on identifying the genes that contribute to the development of lupus and other “autoimmune” diseases. He has earned a five-year, $1.5-million grant from the National Institutes of Health to support his work.
Fletcher Taylor Jr., M.D., became only the fourth Distinguished Career Scientist in OMRF’s 60-year history. A cardiovascular biologist, Taylor joined OMRF’s scientific staff in 1982, and in his 24 years at OMRF he made numerous important contributions to the study of infections of the blood. This work ultimately led to the discovery of the first effective treatment for the deadly blood infection known as severe sepsis.
“Dr. Taylor was always driven to learn new things,” said Charles Esmon, Ph.D., head of OMRF’s Cardiovascular Biology Research Program. “But in this process, he always stressed mutual support and the free exchange of ideas. The feeling of camaraderie he engendered was infectious, and it helped build effective collaborations to tackle complex problems.”
Celebrating its 60th birthday in 2006, OMRF (www.omrf.org) is a nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and curing human disease. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease. It is home to Oklahoma’s only member of the National Academy of Sciences.