At a press conference today, OMRF announced the opening of its new OMRF Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence. The center will provide care to MS patients and also conduct research focused on understanding the disease process and improving clinical outcomes for people with the illness.
As an inaugural gift to the center, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the MS Bridge of Oklahoma presented the center’s new director, Gabriel Pardo, M.D., with a donation of $500,000.
“This is a watershed moment for MS patients in Oklahoma,” said Paula Cortner, National Multiple Sclerosis Society Vice President for Oklahoma/Arkansas. “With the new center, Oklahomans with MS will have a single source for comprehensive care by specialists who have devoted their entire careers to improving the lives of people with this debilitating disease.”
The OMRF MS Center will open in March and will provide state-of-the-art care to individuals suffering from MS, an inflammatory, degenerative disease of the central nervous system. The center’s physician-scientists will also conduct clinical and laboratory research, seeking a deeper understanding of a condition that affects an estimated 400,000 Americans.
At the event, OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D., introduced Pardo as the center’s director. Pardo, a neurologist and neuro-ophthalmologist, will join OMRF from the Neuroscience Institute at Mercy, where he serves as the medical director of the MS Center of Oklahoma and treats more than 2,000 MS patients. He is also a clinical assistant professor of neurology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and has served in a variety of different capacities for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
“We’re bringing together a team of experienced professionals who are passionate about managing and understanding this complex condition,” said Pardo. “Through comprehensive disease management and clinical and laboratory research, we have the tools to help patients reduce disability and live longer lives.”
In addition to Pardo, Farhat Husain, M.D., will also be joining the center’s medical staff. Husain is a neurologist who currently treats more than 300 MS patients through Southwest Neurological Associates in Oklahoma City. She has previously served as an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Louisiana State University.
The OMRF MS Center will be housed in OMRF’s research tower, a new 186,000-square-foot facility that will be home to clinical space and research laboratories. Supported by grants from the State of Oklahoma, the federal government and private donors, the tower is believed to be the first medical facility anywhere that will harness the wind to help power its labs. The building was selected as a finalist for the 2010 Renewable Energy World North America Award.
The center will feature a host of facilities dedicated to MS evaluation and treatment, including technologically advanced examining rooms, a tower infusion suite, ophthalmological and dental facilities, ambulation evaluation with MS-dedicated physical therapy, and computerized neurocognitive testing. It will also offer MS patients the chance to participate in clinical trials, providing them access to experimental therapies not yet widely available.
“The scientists at the OMRF Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence are engaged in clinical and laboratory research collaborations with researchers across the U.S. and in Italy, England, Denmark and Switzerland,” said Prescott. “By teaming with the world’s foremost MS researchers to understand the root causes and progression of the disease, we’ll improve the care we can deliver to Oklahomans. That’s the bottom line.”