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MD, PhD Students Honored at White Coat Ceremony

Back row: Joshua Seabert, Parker Kneis, John Woods, Matthew Baier, Cameron Owens Front row: Collyn Kellogg, Jocelyn Labombarde, James Li, Samah Houmam Not pictured: Kevin Thomas, Landon Haslem

The Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences hosted a symposium and white coat ceremony to celebrate Presbyterian Health Foundation's MD/PhD Scholars and share exciting translational research happening at the university.

The half-day symposium consisted of presentations from keynote speaker, David Erbe, PhD, from Alnylam® Pharmaceuticals, who shared his valuable perspective on the timeline of bringing a drug to market. His presentation inspired those in the room, emphasizing the importance of the foundational science that ultimately led to his own discoveries, and how the process can often take decades to develop.

Attendees also heard from OUHSC faculty speakers, Stavros Stavrakis, MD, and Doris Benbrook, MD, as well as MD/PhD students, Joshua Seaberg and Cameron Owens, who highlighted their current research.

The symposium was organized by OUHSC's Vice President for Research Office thanks to then Interim Vice President for Research, Mary Beth Humphrey, MD/PhD. "Presbyterian Health Foundation research funding for University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center has been instrumental in the accelerated growth of federal funding on our campus over the last decade," said Dr. Humphrey. "The MD/PhD program would not exist without the dedicated support from PHF over the last decade."

During the symposium, Dr. Humphrey and Dr. Gary Raskob, OUHSC's Senior Vice President and Provost, shared several of the major advances that have stemmed from prior PHF funding. Additionally, PHF-funded MD/PhD. program candidates were recognized and honored with clinical white coats recognizing the invaluable PHF support.

"We continue to be grateful for the opportunity to administer PHF grant dollars to our campus to support the clinical, translational, and basic research missions of the campus," said Dr. Humphrey. "Working together we can achieve new drugs, offer new clinical trials, and improve the health of Oklahoman’s through our research."

PHF has been a major supporter of the jointly-operated OUHSC and Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation MD/PhD program since 2000. Students enrolled in this dual-degree program are focused on becoming clinician-scientists, a class of individuals who are the engine that drive the biomedical research enterprise in the United States and around the world.

During the program, MD/PhD students earn degrees in one of five degree-granting basic science

areas (biochemistry and molecular biology, cell biology, microbiology and

immunology, pathology and physiology) housed in the College of Medicine at OUHSC.

"We are proud of this program and its aim to develop a diverse, well-trained cohort of

clinician-scientists training right here in Oklahoma with the goal of accelerating

medical breakthroughs and ultimately improving the health of people in Oklahoma and across

the nation," said PHF President, Rick McCune. "They are an incredibly talented group of young people, and we are excited to see where they go, and what they discover."


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