The Journal Record newspaper has named Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Joel Guthridge, Ph.D., a 2021 Health Care Hero.
The awards honor those who have gone above and beyond to better the health and safety of Oklahomans, making the state a better place to live and work. Guthridge was recognized as a “Covid Champion” for his front-line work on Covid-19 testing.
“The pandemic offered exceptional challenges to people everywhere, but particularly for those in health care,” said Sarah Barrow, who oversees the awards for The Journal Record. “Dr. Guthridge gave selflessly of his time and talents to make Oklahomans safer in the earliest days of the pandemic. This recognition is well deserved.”
At the onset of the pandemic, Guthridge recognized that existing lab equipment at OMRF could be adapted for large-scale Covid-19 testing. He led a team of OMRF and University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center physicians and researchers who worked night and day to create a high-volume Covid-19 clinical testing laboratory at OU Health.
At OMRF, Guthridge built on that success to lead the development of a weekly saliva-based Covid-19 screening program for OMRF staff. Those efforts were key in safely maintaining the foundation’s laboratory operations and preventing onsite spread of the virus among employees.
“Dr. Guthridge’s innovation brought expanded Covid-19 testing to Oklahomans and his approach has been applied by others around the globe,” said OMRF Vice President of Clinical Affairs Judith James, M.D., Ph.D. “Because of his leadership, we were able to add another layer to OMRF safety protocols to help get scientists back into the labs.”
Guthridge called his work on Covid-19 nothing more than doing what was necessary for Oklahomans.
“I am honored and humbled to receive this award, but this is not just for me. I share this with our dedicated staff and our partners at OU,” said Guthridge. “And our work is not done yet. Across OMRF, physicians and researchers are attacking Covid-19 from different angles. I only contributed my piece to the bigger puzzle.”