The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center continues to advance research and patient care for Oklahomans with the competitive renewal of a $20 million federal grant. 

The grant from the National Institutes of Health will enable the Oklahoma Shared Clinical and Translational Resources program to advance its crucial work in conducting clinical and translational research with patients to improve health outcomes. 

The program is a collaborative effort between multiple institutions, physicians and American Indian tribes throughout Oklahoma, especially in rural areas.

The renewal also benefits the collaborative role of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. 

“This funding has helped OMRF recruit new scientists to Oklahoma and expand our autoimmune disease clinical and research efforts. Advances in research resulting from this grant will translate to better health and health care for patients in Oklahoma and beyond," said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D.

The Oklahoma Health Sciences Center was awarded the same grant five years ago at $20 million, which became the largest grant ever awarded in the state. 

In the first five years, the program focused on cancer, autoimmune disorders, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, children’s health and tobacco cessation through the development of several projects, including Healthy Hearts for Oklahoma which worked to reduce the toll of cardiovascular disease in Oklahomans. 

The program also investigated exposure to a range of environmental factors in early development (from conception to early childhood), helped recruit 11 new NIH-funded researchers to the state, and spurred more than 230 peer-reviewed publications to guide Oklahoma's physicians. 

Over the next five years, the health center plans to create a new program called Community Engaged Research Exploratory Awards, which will address several important community issues. If a particular town is experiencing an increase in adolescent obesity, for example, researchers and community partners will collaborate to implement research specifically aimed at improving that area. 

“By applying the power of research directly to patient care, we will benefit Oklahomans who are disproportionately affected by chronic health conditions," said Jason Sanders, M.D., MBA, Senior Vice President and Provost of OUHSC.

The OSCTR program now has 29 partners, and many projects involve researchers from different institutions and different disciplines, each asking questions aimed at improving health.