Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation President Plots Growth, Plans for New Research Tower

Article excerpt

Stephen Prescott found a very vibrant nonprofit organization when he arrived in Oklahoma City in mid-2006 to take over as president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.

He was replacing J. Donald Capra, who had served as OMRF president since 1997. Under Capra, funding received by the biomedical research institute from the National Institutes of Health increased from $8 million in 1997 to $27.4 million in 2005. Capra led a $100 million fundraising campaign completed in 2004.

But now after slightly more than half a year on the job, Prescott sees a need for additional expansion and growth. The Texas native has big ideas.

"We plan to expand research over the next two years," he said. "As we get larger we will have more areas we can attack."

OMRF is developing plans for a new eight-story, 195,000-square- foot research tower. It will be built between OMRF's current facility at 825 NE 13th St. and NE 15th Street.

The foundation, chartered in 1946, purchased the Keys Speech and Hearing Building from the University of Oklahoma and will take possession of the site in 2008. That will be the site of the new research tower.

Buying the site was important for OMRF's growth plans, Prescott said. The site sits in the middle of the foundation's campus, which is landlocked by other facilities.

Prescott expects a campaign to start later this year to raise money to build the new research center. The cost is expected to total about $125 million including construction, equipment, furnishings and start-up costs for 30 additional principal investigators.

"I think we will be able to raise this money," said Prescott, who came to OMRF with a background in securing research funding.

He grew up in College Station, Texas, and is a graduate of Texas A&M University. He earned his doctorate from the Baylor College of Medicine.

Prescott came to Oklahoma City from the University of Utah, where he held the H.A. and Edna Benning Presidential Endowed Chair, founded the Eccles Program in Human and Molecular Biology and Genetics, and served as executive director of the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

He led the Huntsman Cancer Institute from 1999 to 2005. During his tenure, the institute raised $180 million in private contributions and secured more than $100 million in government funding.

Before moving to Oklahoma City, Prescott and his wife, Susan, lived in the same house in Salt Lake City for 24 years. They have two grown children - an attorney and a chef - and three grandchildren.

"Professionally, I have run an organization of this size, but this is different because of the challenges of coming in from the outside," he said.

Prescott said it is a good time to be in Oklahoma City and planning a fundraising campaign.

"Oklahoma City's economy is growing," he said.

While OMRF has traditionally received support from foundations and grants, much of its support has come from smaller contributions from across the state. …