Medical innovators from Tulsa and Oklahoma City gathered today for a conference on genetics and disease at OMRF.
The conference was aimed at building potential collaborations to aid in the fight against autoimmune diseases, cancer and eating disorders.
The gathering represents the second of four planned conferences for the Tulsa Research Quadrangle, whose members include OMRF, the Laureate Psychiatric Hospital, OU-Tulsa and the University of Tulsa. The entities seek to build bonds between Oklahoma City and Tulsa in order to strengthen Oklahoma’s overall standing in medical research. Tulsa’s J.A. and Leta Chapman Trusts sponsored the event.
“The days of one scientist working alone in his lab to make a discovery are over,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “The problems we face require inter-disciplinary collaborations both inside research facilities and between cities.”
One example is OMRF’s work with the Laureate Psychiatric Hospital on the psychological and genetic causes of eating disorders.
“Laureate works to examine the minds of patients dealing with eating disorders, and OMRF can provide expertise in human genetics to further the research,” Prescott said. “This is another case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. We can do so much more when we work together.”
Keynote speaker Mark Leppert, Ph.D., from the University of Utah, gave a presentation titled, “Genomic Approaches to Gene Identification.” Leppert, an expert in human genome science, studies disease genes that occur in families. His lab is credited with the discovery of three epilepsy genes, and he has helped amass numerous sample collections from families with genetic disorders.
Speakers from Laureate Psychiatric Hospital presented an overview on eating disorders, and members of OMRF’s Arthritis and Immunology program discussed new technologies that are helping scientists pinpoint causes of and possible therapies for autoimmune diseases.