The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation chose 11 students statewide for its 2014 class of Sir Alexander Fleming Scholars. Oklahoma Baptist University's Lucas Adams, sophomore from Oklahoma City, was chosen for the esteemed honor. The students were selected following a competitive statewide application and interview process. Over 100 students applied.
The Fleming Scholar Program was founded in 1956 as a way to give Oklahoma's high school and college students "hands-on" biomedical research experience. Since that time, the program has provided more than 500 Oklahoma students with a first-hand look at careers in medical research and medicine. The program is named for Sir Alexander Fleming, the famed British scientist, who discovered penicillin. In 1949, Fleming came to Oklahoma City to formally dedicate the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation's first building.
As Fleming scholars, students will spend 8 weeks this summer working with OMRF researchers on a specific project. Their projects will cover topics from autoimmune disease to cancer to heart disease. At the end of the program in late July, each scholar will give a presentation outlining their research findings for OMRF's scientific staff.
"This unique program provides a close-up look at medical research and a career in the sciences," said OMRF Fleming Scholar Program coordinator Carlisa Curry. "It's an intense and challenging experience, but many scholars find new scientific areas to explore, and new career options often open up to them as a result of their time at OMRF. They might miss some time by the pool, but the rewards are definitely worth it."
One of OMRF's senior scientists is an OBU graduate and began her research career as a Fleming Scholar. Dr. Judith James graduated from OBU in 1989 summa cum laude with honors with a degree in chemistry. She then received a medical doctorate and a doctorate of philosophy in immunology with honors from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She was awarded OBU's Alumni Achievement Award in November 2013.
The 2014 Fleming Scholars, their hometowns and current schools, are: Lucas Adams, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Baptist University; Sam Allen, Duncan, Duncan High School; Lindsay Beck, Stroud, Stroud High School; Tanner Bowen, Weleetka, Weleetka High School; Jiali Dong, Edmond, Case Western Reserve University; Kimberlea Harlow, Oklahoma City, Classen School of Advanced Studies; Teale Muir, Tulsa, University of Kansas; Suparsh Parikh, Durant, University of Oklahoma; Michael Ripperger, Norman, Norman High School; Maria Thomas, Oklahoma City, University of Oklahoma; and Tyler Vasquez-Dorn, Chickasha, University of Rochester.
The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and developing more effective treatments for human diseases. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer's disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease.