OMRF Gets $200G Hearst Foundation Grant

Tuesday, August 10th 2004, 11:22 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is finally getting a toehold in receiving grant money from major private foundations.

OMRF officials announced Monday that the institute was awarded a $200,000 grant from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

``This may be the first grant that we have ever received from a major national foundation,'' said OMRF President J. Donald Capra.

While the unrestricted grant is important for the biomedical research facility financially, the possibility of additional grants from other private foundations is even better, Capra said.

Other private foundations haven't previously shown interest in OMRF because of the lack of national foundation support, he said.

``This grant should break that dam. This will be a harbinger when in a year or two from now we will be receiving national foundation grants.''

The grant will be used for additional funding for DNA sequencing, a high-powered transmission electron microscope and tissue sample processor which helps researchers track cellular movement and analyze cells at magnifications of thousands of time.

Also being funded is development of microarray, a technology that plays an important part in defining the role of individual genes; transgenics, in which genetically modified mice are created and used by OMRF scientists to study the relationship between certain genes and cancer onset and the use of magnetic resonance imaging detection, crucial in tracking tumor growth.

Capra is also optimistic that the Hearst Foundation will continue to help fund OMRF research.

The Hearst Foundation Inc., founded in 1945 by William Randolph Hearst, is an independent private philanthropic organization operating separately from The Hearst Corp.

The largely grant-funded Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has received money from the Chapman Trust in Tulsa, the National Institute of Health, the American Heart Association and other such funding agencies, as well as private foundations and individuals.

``Every dollar counts because it is often difficult to get this kind of money for core research,'' Capra said.

OMRF is competing for funding with 100 other independent research institutes as well as the hospitals and universities that do 90 percent of the medical research in the United States.

Thomas Eastham, vice president of the Hearst Foundation, said the cancer research at OMRF, which has been going on since 1950, is an important priority.

This research has already led to a promising diagnostic test that may help to predict which women are at risk for breast cancer. The test, known as OncoVue, is expected to reach the market within a year.