At a ceremony in Oklahoma City, Gov. Mary Fallin dedicated OMRF’s new 186,000-square-foot research tower. The project caps the largest expansion in OMRF’s 65-year history.
The facility is home to dozens of new laboratories, the Samuel Roberts Noble Cardiovascular Institute and the OMRF Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence, a clinic that will treat thousands of Oklahomans suffering from MS. The facility’s use of innovative energy management technologies earned the building recognition as a finalist for the 2010 Renewable Energy World North America Award—the only building in Oklahoma so honored.
Construction on the tower, which was funded through a combination of private gifts and state and federal grants, began in early 2009. Using newly developed energy management systems and design features, the building will save the equivalent of 44,000 gallons of gasoline each year and cut annual carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2 million pounds. The architectural firm of Perkins + Will designed the facility, and Flintco served as construction manager.
“With state-of-the-art labs and unique ‘green’ features, this tower is the centerpiece of an expansion campaign that’s bringing new scientists to OMRF from across the nation and around the world,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “This is a building unlike any other in this state—or anywhere.”
Already, said Prescott, OMRF’s recruiting efforts have brought 12 new principal scientists to the foundation. Those researchers joined OMRF from Yale University, Duke University, London’s Imperial College of Medicine and more than a half-dozen other institutions. OMRF expects to continue recruitment over the coming years, growing its staff significantly from its current level of nearly 500 employees.
The total project cost, including construction, equipment, furnishings and recruitment packages for 30 senior-level scientists, is $125 million. To date, OMRF has secured $83 million in funding for the project, with lead grants coming from the State of Oklahoma and the National Institutes of Health.
“This tower represents a perfect example of the innovation and determination of the brightest minds in our state, pulling together to produce great results and pay major dividends,” said U.S. Rep. James Lankford, who also spoke at the dedication. “An investment in OMRF is an investment in the future of our state, and the payoffs come in the form of healthier Oklahomans and a healthier economy.”
Work at OMRF has already yielded three FDA-approved drugs, more than 600 domestic and international patents and a dozen biotechnology spin-off companies. The new facility is expected to increase these activities, fueling additional private-sector growth in Oklahoma’s biotechnology industry.
“At a time when the economy is struggling to recover, it’s refreshing to point to OMRF as a model for job creation,” said Gov. Fallin. “OMRF’s core mission is to improve human health through discovery and innovation, and this life-saving work is also creating high-tech, high-paying jobs for Oklahomans.”