Thomas comes to OMRF from Science Museum Oklahoma, where she served as communications director.
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, more than 1.5 million Americans suffer from the disease.
The illness affects about 4,000 Americans, 80 percent of whom are women.
A recent OMRF study is potentially paving the way for better preventive treatment options for African American patients.
Aortic valve stenosis is one of the most common heart conditions in the elderly, and no treatment for it currently exists.
OMRF researchers believe tiny worms may hold keys to reversing serious digestive ailments.