The Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research (OCASCR) has named Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Lorin Olson, Ph.D., as its new scientific director.
OCASCR was founded in 2010 by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) to increase adult stem cell research in Oklahoma. Since then, OCASCR has funded research projects on diabetes, blindness, cancer and other illnesses at OMRF, Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma and the OU Health Sciences Center.
Olson earned his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University and his doctorate in biomedical science from the University of California, San Diego. Following postdoctoral training at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, Olson launched his lab at OMRF in 2010. His work in the Cardiovascular Biology Research Program focuses on the intricate process of wound repair and the genes that control connective tissue development and disease.
Olson succeeds OMRF’s recently appointed vice president of research, Courtney Griffin, Ph.D., as OCASCR’s scientific director. In that role, he will oversee a semiannual review of grant applications from Oklahoma scientists to fund studies and equipment needed for specific research.
Olson plans to continue OCASCR’s focus on adult stem cell research and regenerative medicine. “Regenerative medicine is looking at how to use adult stem cells or their by-products to repair and restore diseased or damaged organs. That’s especially important in diseases related to smoking and obesity, both of which are focuses of TSET,” he said.
TSET Executive Director Julie Bisbee said she is excited about the future of OCASCR and the role this research plays in TSET’s overall goal.
“TSET is proud to support OCASCR as their researchers develop new treatments for cancer and other tobacco-related diseases,” said Bisbee. “That work is key to TSET’s mission and helps support scientific research and discoveries in Oklahoma. The work of this unique collaboration between academic and research institutions will be felt for generations to come.”
Since OCASCR’s founding, TSET has invested $31 million in Oklahoma scientists focused on adult stem cell research, with a return on that investment of more than $280 million in grants resulting from projects launched through the initiative.