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Harvey, James to Receive Alumni Achievement Award

November 6, 2013

OBU will honor Dr. John Harvey, Oklahoma Heart Hospital president and medical director, and Dr. Judith James, physician and scientist for Oklahoma Medical Research Center.

Dr. John Harvey Dr. Judith James

Harvey, a '77 alumnus, has directed Oklahoma's first all-digital hospital totally focused on the care of hearts since being named co-president for the hospital when it was built in 2002. A member of the original group of cardiologists planning the new hospital, Harvey and his partners set out to build a better hospital for heart patients.

With a passion for patient care and a strong desire to help people with heart disease continue to live their daily lives, Harvey leads an organization that has received national awards for customer satisfaction. The hospital has had some of the highest satisfaction scores in the nation, resulting in multiple years of Press Ganey Summit Awards, presented to healthcare facilities that maintain the highest levels of customer satisfaction for sustained periods of time.

High demand for cardiovascular care coupled with amazing customer satisfaction led to increased demand for services and a $35 million expansion of the hospital in 2006. The hospital, located on the northwest side of Oklahoma City, was so successful, another site was built in 2010 on the south side of Oklahoma City to serve additional patients in that part of the city.

The son of a physician, Harvey grew up around medicine and was influenced by his father's medical practice from an early age. His father, the late Dr. William "Bill" Harvey, was an OBU graduate who later served on the OBU board of trustees.

Harvey completed his medical degree at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in 1981.

During his time at OBU as a science major, Harvey said he was greatly influenced by Dr. Jim Hurley and Dr. Dick Canham. Although he hadn't decided yet what type of medicine he would practice, he said he was always intrigued by the heart.

Harvey conducted his internship and residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiology at the OU Health Sciences Center. He then undertook a fellowship in interventional cardiology from Harvard University at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. Since that time, he worked as an attending physician at the VA Medical Center of Oklahoma City in the cardiac catheterization laboratory, and as a clinical instructor and assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

Although he enjoyed research and teaching, his passion for caring for patients drew him back into patient care.

In 1988, Harvey was appointed director of interventional cardiology at Oklahoma Memorial Hospital and in 1991 he joined the Heart Group of Oklahoma as an interventional and clinical cardiologist. In 1998, he became one of the founding members of Oklahoma Cardiovascular Associates. It was this group of physicians who partnered with Mercy Health Center to build the Oklahoma Heart Hospital.

As a physician/scientist, James' career has many facets. While part of her time is spent seeing patients, another part is spent directing a research group. She also teaches and mentors students and serves as an administrator for 160 individuals. Although it is challenging to find a way to wear all those hats and still find balance in her life, James says it is highly rewarding to help train and inspire the next generation of physicians and scientists in Oklahoma.

James discovered her definition of success while she was in a chapel service at OBU. The chapel speaker encouraged students that day to find their God-given calling and pursue it passionately and relentlessly, regardless of the obstacles. And that is exactly what James has done.

A native of Pond Creek, Okla., James said she knew from a very young age that she was called to be a physician. She had considered and applied to several colleges but when an OBU faculty member came to speak at First Baptist Church of Pond Creek for OBU Day in the Churches she found out about scholarship opportunities and decided to visit campus. Once she stepped foot on Bison Hill, she knew she wanted to attend. The scholarships she received made an OBU education a reality.

As an OBU student, James applied twice for the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Sir Alexander Fleming scholar program. "I was turned down the first two times because I lacked research experience, but Jim Hurley wouldn't let me give up," she said. After finding an Oklahoma State University researcher who allowed her to help with an investigation into possible health benefits of tarantula toxin, she became an expert at milking tarantulas, and she highlighted the experience on her next Fleming application. It was enough to persuade the selection committee, and it was the beginning of her career as a biomedical researcher.

James graduated from OBU summa cum laude with honors in 1989 with a degree in chemistry. She received a medical doctorate and a doctorate of philosophy in immunology with honors from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

Her work has primarily included the study of the immune system and autoimmune diseases. She has won numerous awards including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2000 and the Gaylord Prize for Scientific Achievement in 2004 and again in 2011. Her work has included discoveries in the progression of lupus, a disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Her lab conducts research to try to understand other autoimmune diseases as well as responses to vaccinations.

James lives in Edmond, Okla., and attends Quail Springs Baptist Church, with her husband, Glen Wood, a teacher in Edmond Public Schools, and their 14-year-old daughter, Rebecca Wood.