Medical researchers are leading the state in a public-private
partnership which, in less than five years, has begun creating an
economic boon which will continue to play a major role in future
At least that's the opinion of two people involved in the
medical strides now being taken throughout the state.
"We have come so far in five years that I can't believe just
what has been done," said Dr. David Albert, a medical doctor who
heads Corazonix Corp., a five-year-old company which specializes in
medical electronics. "It's amazing what adversity can cause people
"Out of our economic adversity, and we've had our share the past
five years, has come the most dramatic form of public-private
partnership I've ever seen.
"Our institutions, colleges, universities and foundations, have
worked with government and the private sector to create a basis for
health research in this state that's going strong.
"It will continue for years to come and the state will reap the
benefits of that."
Medical and health-related research began seriously in Oklahoma
about 10 years but received a strong emphasis five years ago when
the Oklahoma Legislature created several funding mechanisms. This,
in turn, lead to development of the Oklahoma Center for the
Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST), which has five
programs dealing with medical research.
"Our charter is to assist private enterprise which is of special
importance to the Oklahoma economy," said Lari Leaver Murry,
director of OCAST's research and development programs. "We feel that
these programs have been good for the state. We have made enormous
improvements in the last decade, both in the (research) talent in
this state and in the amount of state, federal and private money
that has been invested in research here.
"And in the past two to three years we've seen a lot of
biomedical companies in Oklahoma spun off from that research."
Murry would not rank the various programs as to their
importance, but said all play a major role in recruiting serious
researchers to the state, which in turn attract other researchers,
more research money and projects which in turn attract more good
"All our programs are peer review by an out-of-state panel," she
said. "This means that no one has any interest in the programs, they
just judge each proposal on its merits and rank them according to
what they perceive as having potential."
Since OCAST began awarding grants and contracts for medical and
health research, $8 million in state money has been spent on 146
projects, selected from 528 applications. In the latest round of
selection, three private companies were given awards for applied
research which is expected to result in products or services for the
"One of the things which has come out of these programs really
was unexpected," Albert said. "We have found that the peer review
panel has been impressed with the level and quality of the research
in Oklahoma which has enhanced our reputation.
"We've also had several companies, this (Corazonix) is one of
them, which have been developed over the past five years because of
While medical and health-related research is becoming a major
economic development factor in Oklahoma, especially in Tulsa and
Oklahoma City, public benefits are being derived, Albert said.
"One of the things this does is find ways to lower medical care
costs for the public," he said. "While we want research in health
and medical fields, we also want to find ways to deliver better
health care at a lower cost, not just contain the cost, but to
actually lower it.
"By attracting top researchers who also practice medicine, this
offers a second benefit."
Murry agreed that many practitioners come to Oklahoma because of
the state encouragement for research. …