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Multi-million Dollar Grant Targets Medically Underserved in Oklahoma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Greg Elwell, (405) 271-8955, greg-elwell@omrf.org 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin today announced a new $20.3 million federal grant to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in collaboration with Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and other institutions across the state. The grant targets medically-underserved populations, especially in rural areas of Oklahoma.


“This grant will help to support potentially life-saving research at Oklahoma's world class medical centers,” said Gov. Mary Fallin. “It will also help to provide additional resources for rural areas that have typically been underserved. I'm excited by this great development for the state and our citizens.” 


The five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health supports an Institutional Development Award. The IDeA program builds research capacities in states with historically low levels of NIH funding by supporting basic, clinical and translational research, faculty development, and program infrastructure.  This award funds the Oklahoma Shared Clinical and Translational Resources program, which forges critical collaborations across Oklahoma and beyond the state’s borders.


University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren said, “OU is pleased to be a part of this important and expansive effort to help ensure that all Oklahomans benefit from the advances of medical science. It is another example of our goal to move research from the bench to the bedside to help improve healthcare for all the people of our state.” 


Dr. Stephen M. Prescott, OMRF President, said, “This project brings together the key components necessary to effect positive change in at-risk populations in Oklahoma and other participating states. We believe this effort provides the clinical and translational research infrastructure to foster new clinically relevant discoveries and to translate findings into improved health outcomes for citizens everywhere.”


The Oklahoma Shared Clinical and Translational Resources program forges partnerships between 10 Oklahoma institutions, physicians across the state, American Indian tribes throughout Oklahoma and Kansas, the Chickasaw, Cherokee and Choctaw nations, as well as with institutions in Arkansas and South Carolina.  The goal is to improve health and health outcomes in medically underserved populations by improving access to both clinical and translational research and resources.


“The overall mission is to serve as a catalyst for clinical research that improves health for underserved and underrepresented populations living in rural areas; to improve patient outcomes; and to advance research by providing critical resources to help launch the careers of new, independent IDeA investigators,” said Dr. Judith James, principal investigator. James holds the George Lynn Cross Professorship at the OU College of Medicine and heads the Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program at OMRF, where she holds the Lou C. Kerr Endowed Chair in Biomedical Research.


She said the program, which is a massive collaborative effort, will provide coordination and assistance to investigators in every aspect of clinical and translational research. 


“We know that Oklahoma has serious issues with overall poor health ratings. We know we have poor health outcomes with common diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity and arthritis; and we know that underserved populations are disproportionately affected by such chronic health conditions. This grant allows us to make great strides in addressing all of those factors; but perhaps just as important, it provides a platform to enrich the experience and education of promising new clinical researchers,” said Dr. M. Dewayne Andrews, senior vice president and provost of the OU Health Sciences Center and executive dean of the OU College of Medicine. 


The grant provides $4.3 million in its first year and another $4 million per year for four subsequent years. Funding will be provided by grant No. U54GM104938 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

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