Did I frighten you? I didn’t think so. With this cute, little headshot, I don’t exactly resemble Michael Myers or that creepy mask from the Scream movies.
Maybe I’m more like a grown-up version of Linus Van Pelt. As I’m sure you remember, the blanket-dependent Peanuts character spent his entire Halloween night waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear.
It did not go well.
Fortunately, I am happy to report that at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, we welcomed someone great to our pumpkin patch this past week. On Tuesday, following a nationwide search, Dr. Andrew Weyrich was named OMRF’s next president.
Dr. Weyrich comes to OMRF from the University of Utah, where he serves as vice president for research. An internationally recognized leader in blood clotting, his discoveries in the lab have helped revolutionize the field of hematology.
As vice president for research, he’s overseen significant growth in the University of Utah’s research portfolio. Since he took that position in 2016, the university’s research funding increased by 40%, so he’s now managing grants and contracts that exceed $600 million annually. He also spearheaded initiatives that included topics as diverse as Covid-19, violence against women, the opioid crisis, and equity, diversity and inclusion in research.
In other words, Dr. Weyrich is both an internationally recognized medical researcher and a proven leader. And, perhaps most importantly, he’s excited to come to Oklahoma and help OMRF, Oklahoma City and our state build on the momentum we’ve created.
“It’s pretty clear that Oklahoma loves OMRF, and to me, that was just fantastic,” he said. “So many people from different backgrounds really think this is one of the most important things Oklahoma does.”
Dr. Weyrich understands that there are no cookie-cutter solutions when it comes to mapping the future for OMRF. “Detailed aspirations and directions must be defined in partnership with the people you serve and community colleagues,” he said. “This involves listening to and learning from everyone, and shaping this information into an impactful strategic vision.”
This process will begin in earnest in January, when Dr. Weyrich officially takes the helm at OMRF. In the meantime, we’ll start transition activities so that he can hit the ground running.
For me, this means a few more months of wearing the interim president hat. Or, I guess given today’s holiday, we’ll call it a costume.
It’s certainly one that I’ve enjoyed donning. But I will be excited to get back to the role of serving the institution’s scientific leader as we continue to celebrate OMRF’s 75th anniversary.
Recently, I visited New England. The air lacked the expected October bite, but the trees were nonetheless beginning to paint the rolling hills and mountainside orange, yellow and red.
As I made my way across Massachusetts and Vermont, I couldn’t help but notice how most seasonal décor took on a different tone than what I’m accustomed to. Instead of skeletons and inflatable ghouls, the vast majority of displays focused on the fall harvest, with yards and houses festooned with pumpkins, gourds and corn cobs.
As I thought about it, the idea resonated with me. Instead of death, these rural communities, home to so many farms and orchards, were taking the opportunity to celebrate autumn’s bounty. But the fruits of their labor not only point to the successes of the recent past, they offer a preview of what’s to come when farmers sow the fields anew come spring.
In that spirit (ha!), I can’t wait to welcome Dr. Weyrich and his family to OMRF and Oklahoma. With his nurturing of the seeds our scientists are planting, there’s no telling what the harvest will look like. But I know it will be bountiful.
Adam Cohen is OMRF’s senior vice president & general counsel and interim president. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get On Your Health delivered to your inbox each Sunday — sign up here.