The Heart Rhythm Institute pursues a broad-based research program in cardiac arrhythmias that includes basic and clinical investigation. This comprehensive program has produced important discoveries and advances by including scientists and clinicians from many fields, including cardiology, electrophysiology, immunology, cell biology and pharmacology. The synergism produced by discussion, accessibility, and cross-pollination of many disciplines has resulted in significant contributions to the field.
Digestive Diseases and Nutrition
The mission of our research program in the Section of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition at OU is to aim to create new knowledge and expertise that will provide more understanding and innovative, safer treatments of digestive diseases for our patients. We have an active Basic and Clinical Science research program that is highlighted in our section’s monthly Research Conference presented by staff, fellows and invited speakers. Our research activities focus in the areas of gastrointestinal stem cells (especially their involvement in cancer development, prevention and therapy), esophageal disorders (study of Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal motility disorders), pancreatic disease, autoimmune and viral hepatitis, and gastrointestinal oncology. Our new Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center is actively building a productive research program, studying therapeutics and clinical outcomes, and lifestyle affects for inflammatory bowel disease patients. To read more about our program’s research, we invite you to explore our Section’s Research Page.
Endocrinology and Diabetes
The Section of Endocrinology and Diabetes is very active in both clinical and basic science research. Research is regarded as the foundation of the Section's academic and intellectual educational programs, and a core component of the Harold Hamm Oklahoma Diabetes Center. There is a strong emphasis on promoting an integrated research effort bringing together clinical and basic scientists, and on establishing collaborations with other investigators on campus and in the community. The Section promotes research through its two regular weekly seminars (one clinical, one basic) and through annual meetings, particularly the Diabetes Research Retreat which is held each fall.
The focus of research within the Hematology/Oncology Section is heavily patient-oriented in nature and involves investigational treatment methods, the administration of experimental anti-cancer drugs in Phase I-III clinical trials and participation in National Cancer Institute-sponsored cooperative group clinical trials. In addition, we have a very productive laboratory-based cancer prevention program. To be specific, our hematopoietic stem cell transplant program is active in furthering the application of umbilical cord blood as a stem cell source in adult transplant patients, using innovative nuclear medicine techniques to visualize early bone marrow engraftment after transplant and surveying stem cell donors for the effects, if any, of being a donor. Our Phase I chemotherapy trials have enabled approximately 100 patients a year to access anti-cancer drugs that are in the earliest stage of development and in some cases the "first in human" setting. The NCI-funded cancer prevention lab with the Section continues to receive national and international attention for its efforts to prevent gastrointestinal malignancies. The dedication of the Stephenson Cancer Center in July 2011 has launched a new era of comprehensive cancer care in Oklahoma by bringing all components of cancer patient care and clinical research to a central location within a spectacular patient-centered building.
Basic science research by the Infectious Diseases Section is the broad field of bacterial pathogenesis and host defenses. Research in the Drevets’ laboratory uses a mouse model of Listeria monocytogenes infection to elucidate mechanisms by which this bacterium invades the brain, and to study the inflammatory response of the brain to systemic infection with bacteria.
Scientists in the Section of Molecular Medicine explore molecular structures and mechanisms of cardiovascular remodeling in obesity and obesity-related diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and cancer with special emphasis on the regulation of these processes and the development of molecular interventions to correct them.
Pulmonary and Critical Care
The research activities of the Pulmonary and Critical Care section focus on interaction of inflammation and coagulation in causing acute failure of the lung and other organs. Laboratory studies are examining how infection with common organisms and E. coli and pseudomonas activate innate immune responses, and how these normally protective responses can become excessively amplified to produce organ injuries. Investigators are also studying how less common organisms, shiga and anthrax, initiate systemic responses that overwhelm host defense mechanisms. Findings from the laboratory are carried to the bedside in clinical studies, measuring which of the putative mediators identified in experimental models correlate with outcome in critically ill patients. New therapies to prevent or treat patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome and sepsis-related organ failure are being tested in the intensive care units. The specialty clinics are sites for additional studies looking at new methods of diagnosis and treatment. Investigators are determining the role of bronchial stem cells in the development of lung cancer, and defining the role of a new technique, optical coherence tomography, in diagnosing this disease. Therapeutic trials are being conducted for patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension and COPD.
The research program of the Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy Section is integrated with the Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Program and the Clinical Pharmacology Program at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF). Scientists in the Arthritis & Clinical Immunology Research Program and the Clinical Pharmacology Program focus on understanding the etiology, pathogenesis and molecular mechanisms of systemic autoimmunity, understanding immunologic responses to infection and vaccination; as well as working to enhance translational research and linking basic research discoveries to clinical trials in patients. Using genetic, genomic, proteomic, immunologic and molecular approaches, our investigators are working to understand complex human diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory myositis, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, as well as to decipher mechanisms of immune protection after vaccination. The Oklahoma Health Sciences Center houses the Lupus Family Registry and Repository, which is a collection of DNA, serum genotypes and clinical data from a large (~3000 subjects) number of pedigrees multiplex for lupus (~300). OMRF also houses several specialized cohorts including the Oklahoma Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis cohort, Oklahoma Influenza vaccination response cohort, and a collection of 1,000 healthy individuals with complete medical and genotyping information. In addition, OMRF has a CLIA approved laboratory for the serologic diagnosis of lupus and other autoimmune rheumatic diseases syndromes, a newly expanded state-of-the-art biorepository, an immunophenotyping core facility, a human monoclonal core facility, and small animal imaging including in vivo microCT and body composition (Piximus Dexa).