The Fleming Scholar Program was founded in 1956 as a way to give Oklahoma’s high school and college students “hands-on” biomedical research experience. The program is named for Sir Alexander Fleming, the famed British scientist, who discovered penicillin and in 1949 came to Oklahoma City to formally dedicate the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation’s first building. In the first news release about the program in 1956, the late Dean A. McGee, then Chairman of the Board of Directors’ Executive Committee, expressed the philosophy behind the program:
“We feel that students will greatly benefit from the opportunity of working shoulder-to-shoulder in the laboratories with our scientific personnel. Our scientists feel also that in this way they can make a direct contribution to the solution of the critical manpower shortage in the field of biology and medical research. We are shorthanded in terms of having adequate staff to do the job of expanding our knowledge in the field of human health, and perhaps by this program, we will be helping identify and stimulate the scientists of tomorrow.”
In 1982, the Fleming Scholar Program became a model for a national program funded by the federal government to bring the best and brightest high school and college students into contact with the best and brightest scientific and mathematical minds in government and non-government laboratories.
Today the Fleming Scholar Program remains popular, attracting as many as 100 applicants each year.