OU College of Medicine Evening of Excellence Has Raised $2.5 Million in Seed Grants for Young Faculty Scientists
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Public Affairs, (405) 325-1701
OKLAHOMA CITY – With the addition of this year’s proceeds, the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine Evening of Excellence has awarded more than $2.5 million in seed grants for promising young faculty scientists to help them in their efforts to become competitive for national grants. OU President Boren made the announcement at the March meeting of the Board of Regents on the OU Health Sciences Center campus in Oklahoma City.
Sponsored by the College of Medicine Alumni Association, the Evening of Excellence has raised funds to award research grants to 129 investigators since 1985 and has achieved a $1 million endowment in support of future seed grants.
“These vital funds not only help launch the national competitiveness of junior researchers, but they also have a significant return on investment that results in improved health care, new businesses and more jobs to help grow Oklahoma’s economy,” Boren said.
Two examples of this success are William Hildebrand, Ph.D., Presbyterian Health Foundation Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; and Paul DeAngelis, Ph.D., President’s Associates Presidential Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Hildebrand, who joined the College of Medicine in 1993 as a junior investigator, received a $15,000 seed grant in 1994 from the College of Medicine Alumni Association from funds raised through the Evening of Excellence. He has since achieved millions in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the National Marrow Donor Program, and others.
The overall theme of Hildebrand’s research focuses on the human body’s immune “surveillance system” as it responds to transplantation, autoimmunity, viruses and cancer. For example, every cell in the body has an alarm system, just as a house or car has an alarm system. Hildebrand studies cells’ alarm systems to learn, for example, how they distinguish cancerous cells from healthy cells. His aim is to stimulate beneficial immune response and reduce harmful immune responses.
Hildebrand also has turned his research into a commercial venture. In 1999, he founded Pure Protein, a biopharmaceutical company specializing in immunology tools. It was the first company to commercialize after the passage of State Questions 680 and 681, which allow a researcher to use university resources while letting the university have equity in the company. He continues to serve as chief scientific officer for the company, which is located in the Presbyterian Research Park.
Since then, Hildebrand has been able to commercialize several of his discoveries, such as improving transplant outcomes and screening blood supplies for transfusions. In 2000, he developed a precise DNA test to aid in identifying the best possible matches for certain transplant recipients. Labs around the world offer variations of this test.
DeAngelis joined the College of Medicine in 1994 and a year later was awarded a $20,000 seed grant from the Evening of Excellence research fund. He has gone on to draw significant funding from the National Institutes of Health and others, and has earned 33 patents in the United States.
DeAngelis’ research focuses on complex sugar molecules found in the human body that possess therapeutic value. For example, DeAngelis and his team have worked to synthesize a naturally occurring sugar polymer called heparosan, which can be used to more safely and effectively deliver drugs to treat diseases such as cancer and genetic disorders. The sugar molecule protects the drug against adverse reactions inside the body, and the drug’s beneficial effects tend to persist because it can stay in the body longer, necessitating fewer injections for the patient.
DeAngelis has founded four companies, for which he also serves as chief scientist. Each is headquartered in Oklahoma City. They are Hyalose, L.L.C., established 2000; Choncept, L.L.C., and Heparinex, L.L.C., both established 2002; and Caisson Biotech, L.L.C., established 2009. In 2012, Caisson entered into a development and license agreement with Novo Nordisk, a company that focuses on diabetes care. The agreement gives Novo Nordisk the exclusive rights to use Caisson’s proprietary heparosan-based drug delivery technology to engineer and develop compounds within undisclosed therapeutic areas.
This year’s Evening of Excellence honored Charles and Peggy Stephenson, lead donors to OU’s Cancer Center, and the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, which funds a Tobacco Cessation Clinic and supports a program to help translate promising research into new and more effective cancer treatments. Also honored was Dr. Kenneth Cooper, widely known as the father of aerobics and credited with motivating people to exercise in pursuit of good health.
The Stephensons were awarded the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Community Service; TSET received the Dean’s Award to a Distinguished Oklahoma Institution; and Cooper was presented the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Medical Service.
OU Student Receives Udall Scholarship
NORMAN - University of Oklahoma honors student Daniel R. Hayden has been named a 2018 Udall Scholar. The Udall Foundation Scholarship recognizes undergraduate students who demonstrate a commitment to careers related to the environment or to Native American public policy or health care. Hayden is one of 50 nationwide selected for the honor. Read more
OU Professor to Receive IEEE Satellite Communications Technical Contribution Award
Mohammed Atiquzzaman, is the recipient of the prestigious Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Satellite Communications Technical Contribution Award for 2018. The annual award is given to an accomplished, senior-level researcher who has achieved outstanding results in satellite communications and recognizes excellent scientific contributions done by academia and industries. Atiquzzaman will receive the award at the IEEE International Conference on Communications in Kansas City, Missouri, May 20-24. Read more
OU Physicist Developing Quantum-Enhanced Sensors for Real-Life Applications
A University of Oklahoma physicist, Alberto M. Marino, is developing quantum-enhanced sensors that could find their way into applications ranging from biomedical to chemical detection. In a new study, Marino’s team, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, demonstrates the ability of quantum states of light to enhance the sensitivities of state-of-the-art plasmonic sensors. The team presents the first implementation of a sensor with sensitivities considered state-of-the-art and shows how quantum-enhanced sensing can find its way into real-life applications. Read more
OU Class of 2018 Gift to Honor Borens
NORMAN – The University of Oklahoma Class of 2018 will celebrate their time at OU through a dedicated green space that will add to OU’s national reputation as one of America’s most beautiful campuses. Located along Lindsey Street in front of the newly completed Residential Colleges, this year’s class gift will fund a picturesque lawn named The Boren Green. Read more
OU Students Receive National Security Education Program Award for International Study
NORMAN – University of Oklahoma senior James Ratcliff and OU junior Libby Trowbridge recently were selected as recipients of the prestigious Boren Award for International Study, sponsored by the National Security Education Program. Thirty-four OU students have received the award since the program began in 1994. Read more
OU-Led Research Team Accelerating Antibiotic Discovery
NORMAN — University of Oklahoma professors, Helen Zgurskaya and Valentin Rybenkov, and team are addressing the challenge and critical need for new antibiotics that can fight infections caused by the multi-drug resistant bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, considered an urgent threat by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The OU team responded to a special request for applications from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, and received a five-year, $5.7 million grant to develop new, more effective approaches against Gram-negative bacteria that are protected by multi-drug efflux pumps and low-permeability membranes. Read more