Four Oklahomans joined the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation’s Board of Directors at OMRF’s semiannual board meeting Wednesday. Also at the meeting, three OMRF scientists were honored.
Joining the board are Dave Bialis, Ramsey Drake and Cliff Hudson of Oklahoma City and Harold Hamm of Enid.
Bialis is president of Cox Oklahoma. His civic involvement includes service on the boards of the United Way of Central Oklahoma, the Oklahoma City Public School Foundation and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.
Drake is the CEO of Carl E. Gungoll Exploration. A member of the advisory board of the University of Oklahoma College of Geology and Geophysics, he also serves as a director for the Boys & Girls Club of Oklahoma.
Hamm chairs the board of Continental Resources, Hiland Partners and Hiland Partners GP. A member of the Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce, Hamm is past president of the Oklahoma Independent Producers Association.
Hudson is chairman of the board and CEO of the Sonic Corporation. The former chairman of the Oklahoma City School Board, Hudson serves as a director for the Ford Foundation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Also at the meeting, OMRF scientists Patrick Gaffney, M.D, and Kathy Moser, Ph.D., received the Merrick Award for Outstanding Research. Established in 1981 by Elizabeth Merrick Coe through the Merrick Foundation of Ardmore, the research prize is given annually to a junior member of the OMRF faculty whose research is flourishing. This is only the second time in the award’s history that the honor has been shared by two scientists.
Gaffney, who received his medical degree at the University of Minnesota, and Moser, who holds a doctorate from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, are both associate members of OMRF’s Arthritis and Immunology Research Program. Working together over the past year, Gaffney and Moser have isolated a mutated gene that may account for the development of the autoimmune disease lupus.
In addition, the board named Swapan Nath, Ph.D., the J. Donald and Patricia H. Capra Distinguished Scientist. The position was established as a result of a donation by former OMRF President J. Donald Capra, M.D., and his wife, Patricia H. Capra, Ph.D.
Nath, the inaugural holder of the position, uses computer analysis to find genetic similarities in samples donated by lupus patients and family members. His work with an international consortium of scientists helped identify 13 genes related to the development of lupus, a major advance in understanding the cause of the life-threatening disease, which has no known cure.
At the meeting, OMRF’s scientific advisory board also delivered its evaluation of OMRF’s Immunobiology and Cancer Research Program. The board, which consists of prominent scientists from around the country, conducted a two-day evaluation of the program. Led by Paul Kincade, Ph.D., OMRF’s Immunobiology and Cancer Research Program seeks to shed light on the processes that lead to leukemia, lymphomas and immunodeficiency diseases.
“You’ve built a real gem in this program,” said board member Shaun Coughlin, M.D, Ph.D., who serves as director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s world-class, and it rivals what you have anywhere.”
OMRF (omrf.org) is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and developing more effective treatments for human disease. Chartered in 1946, its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease.