The E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation has given $5 million to OMRF for its new research tower. The gift was announced today at a ceremony naming the atrium of the new building in honor of Edward L. and Thelma Gaylord.
“Our family has been involved with OMRF for more than a half-century,” said Christy Gaylord Everest. “Helping OMRF helps the people of Oklahoma, and we’re excited to support OMRF as it enters an exciting new chapter of its history.”
The Gaylord gift will go to fund OMRF’s campus expansion, the centerpiece of which will be a 186,000-square-foot research tower. Tower construction began in 2009, and OMRF will begin moving into the new facility in January. When complete, the tower will be home to 34 new laboratories, including OMRF’s Cardiovascular Center and an autoimmune research clinic where physicians will treat patients suffering from conditions including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
The ceremony was attended by the Gaylord family and hundreds of OMRF employees. With the Gaylord gift, OMRF has now surpassed $77 million in its $125 million campaign to fund the campus expansion.
“The Gaylord Foundation recognizes OMRF as a vital piece in the future of the state—as an innovator, as an employer and as the testing grounds for ideas and discoveries that will improve all of our lives,” Everest said. “The mission of OMRF has been fulfilled again and again, and we think this grant will help continue to make Oklahoma City a hub for medical research for generations to come.”
Everest’s grandfather, E.K. Gaylord, joined OMRF’s board in 1950, two months before OMRF opened its doors. He spent 24 years serving as a director. His son, Edward L. Gaylord, followed in his father’s footsteps, spending nearly three decades as an OMRF board member, including 13 years as chair. OMRF’s highest scientific prize is named in honor of Edward L. Gaylord and his wife, Thelma.
Everest’s sister Louise Bennett also served on OMRF’s board, which Everest joined in 2008.
“The Gaylord family plays such an important role in Oklahoma’s history and, with this grant, they’ve put their stamp on the future of medical research in the state,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “We are grateful for their confidence and their investment in creating a physically, environmentally and economically healthier Oklahoma.”
The new tower will be the first medical research facility in North America to harness the wind to help power its labs. In addition to 24 state-of-the-art wind turbines on its roof, it will also boast newly developed energy management systems to cut electricity usage and a living roof and rain garden to prevent runoff pollution and insulate the building.