Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation's Multiple Sclerosis Center to Open in March

Article excerpt

The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is heightening its focus on multiple sclerosis with a new center housed in the research tower that is under construction.

The OMRF Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence will open in March and will combine patient care with research. Dr. Gabriel Pardo, who has headed the MS Center at Mercy Health Center, will become the new director of OMRF's center. Also coming on board is Dr. Farhat Husain, a neurologist who now treats more than 300 MS patients through Southwest Neurological Associates.

The center represents an expansion of the types of clinical research conducted at OMRF, said Dr. Stephen Prescott, OMRF president. People with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other diseases already come to the facility every day for care; adding MS - also an autoimmune disease - made sense, he said.

"From a scientific point of view, MS is the same type of problem as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis," Prescott said. "It's a matter of what organ it is affecting. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, it's joints, but also sometimes heart and lung and other places. For MS, it's brain and spinal cord. They're not the same thing as far as a clinical manifestation, but from a scientific origin, they're quite related. Having this center internally will accelerate the pace of our research."

The new center also reflects a long-standing collaboration between Pardo and Dr. Judith James, who heads OMRF's research into autoimmune diseases. Pardo described MS as the "great cloud hanging over your head" because there is no cure and people struggle with it every day. …