$300,000 Raised to Endow Molecular Biology Chair at Ou Health Center

Article excerpt

Developing a strong medical and biomolecular technology in Oklahoma could provide the key to diversifying Oklahoma's economy, according to a report by Dr. Patrick McKee, chairman of the University of Oklahoma Department of medicine.

"Development of an industrial-university alliance will provide the initial work in that direction," McKee told directors of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.

The first step, he said, has been taken in the formation of a Committee to Develop Biotechnology Industry in Oklahoma. That committee has raised more than $300,000 to endow a chair in molecular biology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

The goal of the 13-member committee is to raise $750,000,which would be used to apply for matching funds from state and federal governments and to provide an annual income of about $250,000 for research.

"We must recruit a research person of national stature to fill that position," McKee said. "Biotechnology can provide another diversification of our economy, which has relied too much on the energy and agriculture industries."

Biotechnology, which includes bio engineering, bio molecular research and recombinant DNA (which invloves splicing genes, the most basic form of life on earth), already is sweeping the nation, McKee said.

"This type of research runs the whole gamut of biotechnology and will provide diverse applications primarily having health and human improvements as its goal," McKee said. "Agricultural applications could very well become a spin-off at Oklahoma State University.

"But primarily, the research will aim toward improving human health and the treatment or prevention of disease. To develop our own industry, we must first import technology from other states in the form of researchers and educators, then develop our own means of providing that technology through education."

Already, commercial applications are being developed from research at the Health Sciences Center, McKee said. …