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Gov. Henry announces expansion of medical research facility

Oklahoma City_Gov. Brad Henry announced today that the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation will embark on a $125 million expansion project with the help of a $15 million allocation from the Oklahoma Opportunity Fund, a state economic development account. 

OMRF, an internationally recognized independent research institute, is building a new research tower on its Oklahoma City campus, an initiative that is projected to create 300 new jobs with an average salary of approximately $58,000.

The governor presented a $15 million state check to OMRF executives at an Oklahoma City news conference.

"Through its innovative research, OMRF has made life-saving discoveries and served as a powerful economic engine for the state of Oklahoma," said Gov. Henry. "By assisting the foundation with its latest expansion, our state will lay the foundation for even greater scientific accomplishments and, in the process, reap additional economic benefits for generations to come."

The eight-story research tower will be built on the center of the OMRF campus located at 825 NE 14th in Oklahoma City.  The 195,000 square foot addition will almost double OMRF's current scientific and administrative offices and house 300 new scientists, technicians and support staff. Construction is scheduled to begin next year. 

"OMRF's labs now are full, and without the new tower, we could not grow," said Dr. Stephen Prescott, the foundation's president.  "This investment from the Oklahoma Opportunity Fund provides us with the necessary seed capital to begin a new chapter in the history of OMRF and of medical research in this state."  

Prescott said the new jobs created by the expansion will help attract additional grant funding from the federal government and other out-of-state sources, boosting Oklahoma research and fueling the state economy in the process.  OMRF, which secured $30 million in grants in 2006, estimates the new research tower, when complete, will help generate an additional $21 million in such grants each year.

"We will recoup the state's investment in no time at all.  We will also send the signal that Oklahoma is serious about establishing itself as the Research Capital of the Plains," said Gov. Henry.    

Since its inception in 1950, OMRF has established itself as an international leader in medical research, assisting with countless scientific discoveries.  For example, OMRF researchers helped develop the first FDA-approved drug for the treatment of sepsis and identified the enzyme believed to be responsible for Alzheimer's disease.  

Those research efforts have also helped stimulate economic growth in related business and industry.  OMRF has spun off 12 biotechnology start up companies and holds some 500 international and domestic patents related to research.

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