At its board of directors meeting on Thursday, OMRF honored Chief Justice Steven Taylor of McAlester with its Board of Directors Distinguished Service Award. OMRF also welcomed new board member, Dan Little of Madill.
Also at the meeting, OMRF scientist Lijun Xia, M.D., Ph.D., received the Edward L. and Thelma Gaylord Prize for Scientific Achievement. The award, named for the late Edward L. Gaylord, who served on OMRF’s board for more than 40 years, and his late wife, Thelma, is OMRF’s highest scientific honor.
Taylor, who was named to OMRF’s board of directors in 1988, has served on the foundation’s executive, investment, governance and nominating, honors and awards committees. A former Marine and mayor of McAlester, Taylor served as judge in more than 500 jury trials and is perhaps best known for presiding over the murder trial of Murrah bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols. He was appointed Justice of Oklahoma’s Supreme Court in 2004 and inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2009.
“One great reward of serving on OMRF’s board of directors is the personal friendships I have developed with other directors and scientists,” said Taylor. “I’ve learned a lot about science and will continue to let the world know that we have a national center of medical research right here in our home state.”
Xia joined OMRF’s scientific staff in 2002. In the lab, his work on sugars known as O-glycans has revealed answers about the causes of fatty liver disease, a condition that affects as much as one-quarter of the world’s population and can lead to inflammation, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
“I came here to do research because so few treatments were available to my patients with blood diseases,” said Xia. “Research is all about innovation and creativity, and OMRF has given me freedom in the lab and outstanding facilities and resources to do my best work.”
Little is a senior partner in the Little Law Firm in Madill and chairs the board of the Sarkeys Foundation in Norman. He is a longtime member of the Oklahoma Bar Foundation, serves as chair of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics Board of Trustees, is a founding member of the Madill Foundation for Excellence, and is a former member of the OU Board of Regents.
Three other scientific awards were presented to OMRF scientists at the meeting. Dean Dawson, Ph.D. received the Merrick Award for Outstanding Medical Research, Courtney Montgomery, Ph.D., received the J. Donald and Patricia Capra Award for Scientific Achievement, and the Fred Jones Award for Scientific Achievement was presented to Hong Chen, Ph.D.