State bioscience community gathers to praise industry growth, leaders
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
It’s a rare moment that the leaders and scientists of Oklahoma’s bioscience industry can come together to share the collaborative spirit that is such a part of who they are and what they are creating. The annual OKBIO Summit and BioScience Awards dinner is one of those moments.
I was struck by how there’s virtually no stopping the conversation at this event — even while the OU-Texas A&M Sweet 16 game streamed during dinner to a big screen. (Bioscience and basketball are definitely compatible.)
The theme of the day was the impact of the convergence of biopharmaceutical research and clinical trials — in other words, creating clinical trials that further ground-breaking diagnostics and therapies that can change patients’ lives.
OMRF president cited
Dr. Stephen M. Prescott, president of Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF), was honored with this year’s Hall of Fame Leadership Award.
Under Dr. Prescott’s leadership, OMRF has carried out the largest expansion in its history, including the opening of the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence, more than a dozen new laboratories, and the expansion of cancer research, working closely with OU’s Stephenson Cancer Center to bring new therapies to patients in Oklahoma and beyond.
Prescott is an enthusiastic supporter of the ongoing initiative to create an Innovation District within the Oklahoma Health Center campus. “In the last decade, we’ve taken tremendous strides in growing the bioscience community in Oklahoma,” said Prescott, who came to OMRF in 2006 from the University of Utah. “With the Innovation District initiative, we have a chance build something transformative, to use this momentum to take Oklahoma City to the next level when it comes to creativity and entrepreneurship.”
OCAST gets award
The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) received the Community Recognition Award. OCAST is Oklahoma’s go-to source of funding for basic and applied R&D ($10 million annually). OCAST’s Intern Partnership Program connects more than 280 students per year with science and technology companies for a real world experience that helps drive more of our young talent toward STEM (science, technology engineering, and math).
Anne Pereira, founder and chief scientific officer of Biolytx Pharmaceutical, received the Researcher Recognition Award. Through her research, Dr. Pereira has identified and developed antimicrobial peptides to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This course of discovery is not for the faint of heart; Pereira has been at it for more than 20 years; Biolytx is nearing the threshold of clinical trials.
Cytovance Biologics was recognized as an Innovation Winner. The firm, an Oklahoma-grown biopharmaceutical contract manufacturer founded in 2003, employs almost 200 people and was recently acquired.
From the day’s agenda to the evening’s awards, the OKBIO Summit underscored the research, clinical trials, and science-based startups that are creating national recognition of Oklahoma’s bioscience scene.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
Did You Know?
OCAST has supported more than 2,500 research and development projects in Oklahoma.