On Tuesday, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Courtney Griffin, Ph.D., received the foundation’s top scientific honor: the Edward L. and Thelma Gaylord Prize for Scientific Excellence. Griffin earned her B.A. at Harvard and her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences at the University of California San Francisco. Following postdoctoral training at the University of North Carolina, she joined OMRF in 2008. Her work focuses on genes that regulate blood and lymphatic vessels, work that has implications for heart disease, aneurysms, cancer and toxic drug overdose. She also serves as scientific director of the Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research.
The Merrick Award for Outstanding Medical Research was presented to Mark Coggeshall, Ph.D. Coggeshall holds the Robert S. Kerr, Jr., Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and for the last decade has dedicated his research to understanding the immune response to anthrax. His discoveries also have the potential to help treat other forms of sepsis, the blood poisoning that results from exposure to anthrax.
Roberto Pezza, Ph.D. was given the J. Donald & Patricia H. Capra Award for Scientific Achievement. Pezza joined OMRF in 2008 from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., where he was a research fellow. In his lab at OMRF, he studies how chromosomes segregate during cell division and what causes errors in the process, which are the leading causes of birth defects.
The Fred Jones Award for Scientific Achievement was presented to Kenneth Humphries, Ph.D. Humphries joined OMRF’s scientific staff in 2008. His work centers on the study of diabetes and how it affects the heart. He and his colleagues have identified a cellular switch in the heart that seems to malfunction in diabetes and are working to develop a way to control it.
“Our scientists are doing innovative research to advance human health,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “Each of these researchers exemplifies a spirit of excellence. The discoveries they make are helping make our world a healthier place.”
Also at the meeting, OMRF recognized 11 board members for their years of service.
Those honored, their hometowns and years of service were:
Mark Funke, Edmond (10)
Kim Henry, Edmond (15)
Jerome Holmes, Oklahoma City (15)
Gary Pierson, Oklahoma City (15)
Greg Walton, Oklahoma City (15)
Michael Carolina, Edmond (20)
Burns Hargis, Stillwater (20)
Jack McCarty, Newkirk (25)
Richard Parry, Oklahoma City (25)
Michael Carroll, Edmond (30)
Ross Swimmer, Tulsa (30)