OMRF added one new member and honored two others at its semiannual board meeting Thursday.
Retired Tulsa surgeon Bill P. Loughridge, M.D., joined OMRF’s board of directors. He was formerly chief of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at St. John and St. Francis Hospitals in Tulsa and on the faculty at Oral Roberts School of Medicine and the University of Oklahoma. His civic involvement includes service on the boards of the American Heart Association, Philbrook Art Museum and Southern Hills Country Club.
OMRF also honored longtime board member Merrill Burruss Jr. of Geary by naming him a life director. He served as CEO and president of Peoples National Bank of Kingfisher before retiring in 1996. Burruss joined OMRF’s board in 1981.
Pat Rooney, an OMRF board member since 1993, received the Board of Directors Distinguished Service Award. Rooney is chairman and CEO of First National Bank of Oklahoma and a member of governing boards for the Oklahoma Student Loan Authority, the Education and Employment Ministry and Last Frontier Council of the Boy Scouts.
“Pat always goes the extra mile for OMRF, and enthusiasm and dedication like his have helped our institution thrive,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “Pat, Merrill and all of our board members are dedicated to achieving excellence in biomedical research that benefits OMRF and Oklahoma.”
OMRF also recognized 12 other directors with service awards, including Libby Blankenship, who has served on OMRF’s board for 30 years.
At the meeting, OMRF’s scientific advisory board presented its evaluation of OMRF’s Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program. The board, which consists of prominent scientists from around the country, conducted a two-day evaluation of the program.
Led by Judith James, M.D., Ph.D., OMRF’s Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program studies autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, where the body turns its defenses against itself. In 2009, the National Institutes of Health recognized this program as 1 of 9 Autoimmunity Centers of Excellence in the U.S.
“OMRF is internationally known for its work studying the biological basis of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis,” said scientific advisory board chair Tika Benveniste, Ph.D., who also chairs the cell biology department at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. “We were extremely impressed by this program and by Dr. James’ leadership capabilities.”