OMRF honored two scientists and added J. Larry Nichols and William Johnstone as new board members at its annual spring board meeting and honors celebration in Tulsa Tuesday.
For her groundbreaking work researching diseases of the immune system, Judith James, M.D., Ph.D., received the Edward L. and Thelma Gaylord Prize for Scientific Achievement. The award is OMRF’s highest scientific honor and is named for the late Edward L. Gaylord, who served on OMRF’s board for more than 40 years, and his late wife, Thelma.
James, a native of Pond Creek, Okla., has made a series of discoveries on the causes and progression of lupus, a disease that affects as many as 2 million Americans and 15 million people worldwide. She also played a key role in creating a unique method to engineer antibodies to influenza and other contagious diseases. Most recently, her work has focused on studying how people with lupus and other autoimmune diseases react to influenza vaccinations.
“Dr. James is a world leader in studying the immune system and autoimmune diseases,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “As founding chair of OMRF’s new Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program, she is bridging the gap between laboratory and clinical research, ensuring that breakthroughs result in better care for patients suffering from devastating illnesses.”
Patrick Gaffney, M.D., received the Merrick Award, which was established by OMRF board member Elizabeth Merrick Coe and her brother, Ward S. Merrick Jr., to encourage and recognize outstanding junior medical researchers at OMRF. Gaffney’s work centers on the genetics of autoimmune diseases, and he recently published a study in the influential scientific journal Nature Genetics pinpointing a genetic mutation linked to lupus.
At the event, OMRF also welcomed Nichols and Johnstone, both of Oklahoma City, as new board members. Nichols is executive chairman and co-founder of Devon Energy. A member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, Nichols has given his time to numerous community and nonprofit boards, including serving as chair of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, the Oklahoma Nature Conservancy and the state’s United Way campaign.
Johnstone is CEO and chair of the private equity firm Council Oaks Partners, LLC. He also has a rich history of community service, volunteering his time as a board member of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, the Arts Council of Oklahoma City and Ballet Oklahoma.