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Gov. Stitt, OSDH Announce Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence, Move of Public Health Lab to Rural OK

Wed, 07 Oct 2020 13:26:34 CDT

Gov. Stitt, OSDH Announce Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence, Move of Public Health Lab to Rural OK The Oklahoma State Department of Health, in partnership with Governor Kevin Stitt and federal, state and private industry leadership, announced today by the establishment of the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence (OPCIE), the first center of its kind in the nation at the intersection of agriculture, animal and human medicine, food safety, public health testing and preparedness.

“Today is an exciting day for our state and nation as we establish the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “This center is going to make Oklahoma a Top 10 state in health care innovation and research, as the work completed here will lead global efforts in pandemic preparedness and other public health issues.”

Located in Stillwater, the center will serve as the state’s frontline of defense against any future biosecurity-threatening diseases and will leverage Oklahoma’s unique rural and urban assets to benefit public health.

“Our integrated approach to public health, diagnostic capabilities and specimen collection will become the gold standard for detecting, responding to and monitoring global health pandemics through the OPCIE,” said Dr. Lance Frye, Oklahoma State Commissioner of Health. “We believe this unique approach positions Oklahoma as a national and global leader in pandemic preparedness and research.”

This center will administratively bring together a breadth of capabilities both locally and
nationally, and will include partnering with Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine and numerous other public and private partners. The Public Health Lab will serve as a pillar of OPCIE and will include a human diagnostic/public health laboratory, a genetic biorepository and a multi-disciplinary basic science lab for human, animal, plant and food-related bioterrorism research.

“The center will become the national model for the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive approach to promoting and preserving public health,” said Elizabeth Pollard, Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Innovation. “The OPCIE is the perfect intersection of urban and rural communities, agriculture, animal and human medicine and public and private partnerships. Today would not be possible without a lot of hard work put in by state and legislative leadership, who have positioned Oklahoma as a national leader. Creating this center of excellence in Oklahoma allows our state to leverage our local expertise and federal assets while we work to lead the nation in pandemic preparedness.”

OPCIE’s creation is being announced as part of the state Public Health Lab’s move to Stillwater. Coupled with OSDH’s move to downtown Oklahoma City, the creation of the OPCIE and the move of the PHL to the heart of rural Oklahoma in Stillwater will give the state a leg up in both rural and urban medicine for generations to come.

“The OSDH administration is moving to a new facility, which does not include a location for the Public Health Lab,” said Kevin Corbett, Secretary of Health and Mental Health. “This move provides the state an opportunity to think differently about how we elevate science and innovation for both urban and rural Oklahoma on the national stage. Leveraging OSU’s rural expertise in agriculture and animal medicine along with OU’s urban expertise in human medicine, as well as private research investments, this relocation of the Public Health Lab to Stillwater will take our offerings to the highest caliber and put the heart of public health right in the middle of rural America.”

What state and national leaders are saying about the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence:

ADM Brett P. Giroir, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services & Member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force
“The OPCIE is an innovative, long-term solution that will allow our pandemic response teams across the nation to be more prepared and nimble in the future when faced with a global virus such as COVID-19. The leadership of Oklahoma’s investment in this lab will help create a lasting impact on not only the state, but the nation and the world.”

Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur
“Animal health and medicine has been crucial to our state's understanding of and response to the pandemic. Oklahoma, as a largely rural and agricultural state, is uniquely positioned to capture the benefits of animal science insights that can improve human public health. Choosing to relocate the Public Health Lab and establish the OPCIE in rural Oklahoma will allow us to leverage this expertise as we plan for the future public health response globally.

Tim Fenton, Vice President Global Government Relations, Thermo Fisher Scientific
“Thermo Fisher Scientific is proud to partner with the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation & Excellence to position the state as a leader in pandemic preparedness and research. As the world leader in serving science, we are committed to working with Governor Stitt to more broadly understand the impact pandemics have on diverse populations - including urban, rural and tribal communities. Oklahoma’s investment is crucial to global health and will be a catalyst to attract R&D funding to the state.”

Dr. Andrew Brooks, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer of Infinity BiologiX (formerly, RUCDR Infinite Biologics at Rutgers University)
“We look forward to working with Oklahoma as we try to build centers of excellence around the world that address both urban and rural needs. It is imperative we are swift to invest in research and development opportunities to better respond to current and future local, national and global public health issues. The OPCIE is strategically located in rural Oklahoma to utilize existing expertise, infrastructure and resources available to the state and our nation.”

Mike Daniels, Vice President, Global Public Sector, Google Cloud
“We're working closely to empower the Oklahoma State Department of Health in its efforts to support Oklahoma citizens. The Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence, or OPCIE, will give Oklahoma a transformative opportunity to use data analytics to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and other diseases. We're thrilled to assist in this worthy project, applying Google Cloud's advanced technologies to put real-time, actionable data into the hands of scientists and decision makers statewide, so Oklahoma can lead the way in disease preparedness.”

Senator Jim Inhofe, (R-Okla.)
“The announcement of the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence is groundbreaking. This first-of-its-kind center will allow Oklahoma to advance exponentially in both the rural and urban medicine fields on a national level. As we continue to rebuild from the effects of COVID-19, I am incredibly pleased to show how local, state and federal partnership brought this project to fruition in Stillwater.”

Congressman Frank Lucas, (R-Okla.)
“Today, I’m proud to join Senator Inhofe, Senator Lankford, Governor Stitt, and leaders across our state in announcing the establishment of the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence. Enhancing Oklahoma’s biosecurity strategies and strengthening the state’s defense against harmful pathogens will not only protect our fellow neighbors, but it will also position Oklahoma to be a nationwide leader at the intersection of agriculture, animal and human medicine, food safety, public health testing and preparedness. The efforts of Oklahoma’s newly established Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence will garner the institutional knowledge of researchers at Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma and the unfettered capabilities of the state’s human and animal diagnostics labs to conduct state-of-the-art, and truly lifesaving, research. I thank Governor Stitt and those at the Oklahoma State Department of Health for establishing this unique public health institution, and I look forward to furthering Oklahoma’s efforts in biosecurity research and preparedness.”



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