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Presbyterian Health Foundation awards $3.5 million in grants to OMRF, OUHSC

Oklahoma City, July 30, 2018

The Presbyterian Health Foundation has awarded $3.5 million in new grants to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. The grants will support more than 50 research and clinical projects, purchase scientific equipment and provide a recruitment package for a new senior-level researcher.

“It’s exciting and encouraging to see much of the recent work being done is collaborative,” said PHF President Tom R. Gray, III. “The vision and mission of the Presbyterian Health Foundation is to support world-class research, and we see this happening as a direct result of these well-coordinated scientific partnerships. We’re proud to continue supporting emerging and experienced biomedical researchers who utilize a teamwork approach to medical discovery.”

The projects that received funding have a strong emphasis on translational research, where clinicians and researchers collaborate to bring new and better treatments to patients.

Researchers at OUHSC received nearly $2.6 million in PHF funds to advance research in 41 projects, including the study of fetal development and long-term health of babies born to mothers with diabetes and potential ways for patients to resist becoming re-infected by Clostridium difficile after a previous infection. Another focuses on new methods for avoiding drug resistance in patients who have undergone chemotherapy treatment for ovarian cancer.

“Ongoing support from the Presbyterian Health Foundation is crucial to OU’s advances in research-based medicine,” said Jason Sanders, M.D., M.B.A., senior vice president and provost of the OU Health Sciences Center. “Our researchers have translated PHF’s significant investments into new biomedical discoveries and improved patient care.”

PHF awarded $934,000 to OMRF to further research in autoimmune diseases, including lupus, sarcoidosis and Sjögren’s syndrome. The new grants will also help in the development of experimental models to study ovarian cancer, inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases and intestinal development.

In addition, the funding provides support for adding a new investigator from Yale University to OMRF’s scientific staff. Pengchun Yu, Ph.D., will join OMRF’s Cardiovascular Biology Research Program later this year. At OMRF, Yu will continue his studies of blood vessels and how they grow, a key factor in illnesses ranging from cancer to heart disease.

“With these grants, the Presbyterian Health Foundation has once again found a way to accelerate the progress of medical research in Oklahoma City,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “For more than three decades, PHF has championed the search for new and better ways to treat disease. We’re proud to partner with PHF in this effort and excited to see where this new round of research projects will lead.”

Since 1985, the Presbyterian Health Foundation has awarded grants totaling nearly $165 million and has remained committed to investing in biomedical research in the state of Oklahoma.

“As funding streams continue to tighten, we are even more committed to filling funding gaps facing Oklahoma’s top biomedical researchers today,” said Gray. “We’re doing our part to pitch in and ensure scientists in our state can pursue their cutting-edge research—work that will ultimately enhance all of our lives.”


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