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Board Awards Funds Creating the TSET Cancer Research Program at the Stephenson Cancer Center and Increases Funding to the Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research

OKLAHOMA CITY (Nov. 16, 2011) – The Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) during its quarterly meeting approved a five-year, $30-million grant to the Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center creating the TSET Cancer Research Program, and awarded an additional $4-million increase to the Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research (OCASCR) for the next four years. This new and increased research funding supports efforts at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and other Oklahoma institutions which are currently conducting innovative biomedical research.

“Over one-third of Oklahomans will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime.  It is our state’s second leading cause of death.  Funding cancer research at this level allows Oklahomans access to the very best cancer treatments available,” said Ken Rowe, TSET Board of Directors Chair.  “Additionally, investing in research supports economic growth while advancing the TSET mission to improve the health of all Oklahomans.“

The new TSET Cancer Research Program at the Stephenson Cancer Center will help translate promising research into new and more effective cancer treatments and diagnostic tools and will recruit nationally-recognized scientists to Oklahoma.  Funds from the grant will also support the Phase I Clinical Trials Center which will allow cancer patients throughout Oklahoma access to promising new experimental therapies.

“This grant from TSET provides a level of funding which is truly transformational, allowing the Stephenson Cancer Center to help take cancer research and patient care to the next level for the citizens of Oklahoma,” said Dr. Robert S. Mannel, Director, Stephenson Cancer Center.

The increase in TSET funding for OCASCR will be used to acquire leading-edge technology, fund additional research proposals, and recruit high-caliber scientists to the state.  OCASCR has been in operation since April 2010 and is making it possible for Oklahoma scientists to participate in this promising area of regenerative medical research.

“Research on adult stem cells has generated some of Oklahoma’s most exciting new scientific projects,” said Stephen Prescott, M.D., President, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.  “These cells, which exist in all of us, may someday have the power to help regenerate tissue destroyed by disease, injury and birth defects. This new investment by TSET is an important step forward as we work to understand adult stem cells and tap their therapeutic potential.”

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The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working with local coalitions and initiatives across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public’s health. TSET – Better Lives Through Better Health. For more information visit www.tset.ok.gov.