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Oklahoma City’s premier economic development organization, a Tulsa educator, a Norman diagnostics development company and a scientist who has developed novel treatments for hearing loss were honored with the 2014 Oklahoma BioScience Recognition Awards on Wednesday evening.
Presented by the Oklahoma Bioscience Association, the recipients were recognized at an Awards Dinner at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. Receiving Awards were:
- The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, recognized with the Hall of Fame Recognition Award for its long-standing leadership in building Oklahoma’s bioscience community;
- Diana Spencer, assistant professor and biotechnology program coordinator, Tulsa Community College, Community Recognition Award;
- IMMY, a Norman-based diagnostic development company operated by brothers Sean Bauman and Scott Bauman, Innovation Recognition Award; and
- Richard Kopke, M.D., a physician and scientist with the Hough Ear Institute in Oklahoma City, Research Recognition Award.
“We’re proud to be honoring such an outstanding group of Oklahoma researchers, educators and innovative organizations,” said Scott Meacham, CEO of i2E, Inc., and the Oklahoma Bioscience Association. “Each of them has made significant contributions to the state’s bioscience community in ways that transcend the direct impact of their work.”
Spencer was integral to the founding and development of courses for TCC’s Biotechnology program, and under her direction the program’s rigorous curriculum prepares students for subsequent academic success or to begin their career. Although the program is less than 10 years old, alumni have gone on to Ph.D. programs, medical school and into jobs with private industry. She also conducts workshops for students and educators throughout Tulsa and across Oklahoma.
Other finalists for the Community Recognition Award included Rod Whitson, an Oklahoma banking executive and angel investor, and Gabe Pardo, who leads the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
IMMY is quickly becoming an innovative leader in the world of fungal diagnostics. The company has developed a dipstick test that detects cryptococcal antigen, a fungus that kills more than 600,000 people every year, claiming more lives than tuberculosis among HIV/AIDs patients in Sub-Saharan Africa. IMMY is making a global impact on the prevention of HIV-associated deaths in the developing world with its affordable diagnostic technology.
Other finalists for the Innovation Recognition Award included Caisson Biotech, LLc, which makes innovative use of a natural sugar polymer to provide a safer approach to drug delivery, and VADovations, Inc., which is developing the world’s smallest implantable heart assist pump to treat heart failure.
Dr. Kopke began his research into noise-induced hearing loss during his medical residency. His researching into the relationship between noise exposure and a reduction in antioxidants in the cochlea, led to pioneering uses of antioxidants for treatment of noise and impulse-related hearing loss. He is CEO and Director of Research at the Hough Ear Institute in Oklahoma City and also maintains a clinical practice at the Otological Medical Clinic.
Other finalists for the Researcher Recognition Award included Robert Broyles, co-founder of Oklahoma City-based EpimedX who discovered a molecule that shows great promise in delivering a cure for Sickle Cell disease, and Lloyd Sumner, a scientist with the Ardmore-based Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation who is a pioneering researcher in the field of plant metabolism.
For more than 50 years, Hall of Fame Recognition Award recipient the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber has led business and community leaders to support growth of a flourishing life science industry in Oklahoma City and throughout the state. It spearheaded efforts that led to the development of the Oklahoma Health Center campus that now includes the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, the Dean McGee Eye Institute, the Children’s Hospital, the Veteran’s Administration Hospital and multiple health care and community service organizations.