The Puterbaugh Foundation has made a major gift in honor of OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D.
The $500,000 gift will create the Stephen Prescott, M.D., Laboratory in OMRF’s Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program. The lab houses a research team led by Patrick Gaffney, M.D., who holds the J.G. Puterbaugh Chair in Medical Research.
On Thursday, the lab was dedicated in a special ceremony led Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Steven Taylor. An OMRF board member since 1988, Taylor also serves as Chairman of The Puterbaugh Foundation.
“In his nine years at OMRF, Steve Prescott has worked tirelessly to take the foundation to new heights,”
said Taylor. “He continues to make a difference in health, in research and in advancing the state of Oklahoma. This is our way to say thank you and recognize him for all he’s done and continues to do. We know of no better place to invest foundation funds than here at OMRF.”
An internationally recognized leader in the studies of the basic mechanisms of human disease, Prescott came to OMRF from the University of Utah in 2006. He has overseen the largest campus expansion in the foundation’s 69-year history, including the construction of OMRF’s research tower.
Completed in 2011, the 186,000-square-foot tower has earned gold-level LEED certification and is crowned by 18 wind turbines. The Puterbaugh Foundation also donated $500,000 toward the turbine purchase in 2012.
Prescott has raised nearly $100 million to fund OMRF’s expansion, which includes not only the new tower but also the addition of more than two dozen new principal scientists to OMRF’s faculty. During Prescott’s tenure, two drugs born at OMRF have received FDA approval, and OMRF has twice been named an Autoimmunity Center of Excellence by the National Institutes of Health.
“I am humbled that Justice Taylor and The Puterbaugh Foundation have chosen me for this incredible tribute,” said Prescott. “Dr. Gaffney is making remarkable strides in our knowledge of autoimmune disease. To have my name associated with his work, as well as with our longtime friends in McAlester, is a distinct honor and privilege.”
One of OMRF’s founders and greatest champions, J.G. Puterbaugh served as chairman of the board and president of the foundation from 1947 to 1950. Though he made his name and fortune in coal as owner of the McAlester Fuel Company in McAlester, Okla., Puterbaugh was equally known for his philanthropy and public service. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1950.
Gaffney, an expert in the genetics of autoimmune diseases, came to OMRF in 2007 from the University of Minnesota. His work at OMRF has been integral in several genome-wide associations studies that have expanded scientists’ understanding of genes associated with lupus and other autoimmune diseases.