(Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 18--The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation on Thursday presented Kathy Sivils, Ph.D., with the Edward L. and Thelma Gaylord Prize for Scientific Achievement, the foundation's highest scientific honor.
During its spring board meeting and honors presentation, the foundation also recognized the achievements of three other researchers and presented Frank McPherson, of Oklahoma City, with its Board of Directors Distinguished Service Award.
Sivils became the 17th scientist to receive the Gaylord Prize. Christy Everest, who serves on the foundation's board, presented the award, which is named for her late parents, Edward L. Gaylord, who served on the foundation's board for 30 years, and his wife, Thelma.
Sivils, a Bartlesville native, earned the award with her pioneering work on Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease. Last year, she led an international coalition of researchers that identified six new genes related to the illness, in which the immune system becomes confused and turns against the body's moisture-producing glands, damaging the ability to produce saliva or tears.
"Dr. Sivils has been instrumental in helping to shed light on a disease that, until recently, has been poorly understood and too often neglected," foundation President Stephen Prescott said. "Her work has brought new hope to those who suffer from this illness and, in the process, has helped establish OMRF as one of the world leaders in Sjogren's research."
Foundation board Chairman Len Cason presented the Board of Directors Distinguished Service Award to Frank McPherson. A former CEO and chairman of Kerr-McGee, McPherson joined the foundation's board in 1991.
McPherson has served on the board's human relations, finance and audit, and executive committees. Most recently, he chaired the board's development committee and helped lead the Discoveries Campaign, which has raised nearly $100 million to support the largest campus expansion in the founation's 68-year history.
Also at the meeting, the foundation presented the following awards to foundation researchers:
--Hong Chen, Ph.D., received the Merrick Award for Outstanding Research. She focuses her work on epsins, a type of protein instrumental in the proper formation of new blood vessels. Chen joined the foundation in 2008, and her work at the foundation has generated 16 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals and a patent for a potential therapeutic for breast cancer.
--Xiao Hong-Sun, Ph.D., received the J. Donald & Patricia H. Capra Award for Scientific Achievement. Sun holds the Lew and Myra Ward Chair in Biomedical Research at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. Her research focuses on how immune cells are created in normal and disease-like conditions, research that holds important implications for the understanding and treatment of cancer.
--Mark Coggeshall, Ph.D., received the Fred Jones Award for Scientific Achievement. Coggeshall holds the Robert S. Kerr Jr. Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and for the last decade has dedicated his research to understanding the immune response to anthrax. His discoveries also have the potential to help treat other forms of sepsis, the blood poisoning that results from exposure to anthrax.
The Oklahoma City-based foundation is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and developing more effective treatments for human diseases.
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