The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has honored four scientists for their contributions to research and human health.
Researcher Dr. Patrick Gaffney received the Edward L. and Thelma Gaylord Prize for Scientific Achievement. The award is the foundation's highest scientific honor.
Gaffney's research, which includes several international collaborations, has been integral in the discovery of new lupus-related genes and understanding their functions.
“It's no longer enough to point at a genetic alteration and say, ‘That one's different. It must be the cause.' What we strive to do is understand how that change affects other genetic functions and how that leads to lupus,” he said.
Gaffney also works with researchers on extremely rare disease genetics using an emerging technology called “exome sequencing.”
Linda Thompson received the Merrick Award for Outstanding Medical Research. In addition to her work understanding what inhibits the body's immune response to tumors, Thompson is also mentoring junior investigators.
Courtney Griffin received the J. Donald and Patricia Capra Award for Scientific Achievement. Her lab is focused on vascular development, including how arteries and veins remain distinct and how blood vessels maintain stability as they grow without rupturing.
The Fred Jones Award for Scientific Achievement was presented to Lorin Olson, who is studying how scar tissue — which is caused both by disease and the body's healing processes — is built and maintained.
“OMRF scientists are doing innovative research to advance human health,” said Foundation President Stephen Prescott. “Drs. Gaffney, Griffin, Olson and Thompson exemplify a spirit of excellence. The discoveries they make are helping make our world a healthier place.”