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TSET-funded science attracts more research dollars to Oklahoma

Sustained support and investment from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust has helped to increase access to cutting-edge cancer treatment and research in Oklahoma. It has also helped bring national research dollars, scientists and scholars to Oklahoma.

“TSET’s research portfolio is an important part of our comprehensive approach. We currently fund three research centers – the Stephenson Cancer Center, the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center, and the Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research,” said TSET Executive Director John Woods. “As we address prevention, it’s also important to support finding cures for those suffering from tobacco-related diseases.”

The research informs TSET’s prevention work to ensure the organization is following the best practices available, provides access to cancer treatment through clinical trials, and creates new discoveries that will benefit Oklahomans from all walks of life for generations to come, Woods said.

TSET’s research investments are also providing significant economic impact to the state. Since TSET began investing in research, scientists have been able to attract additional dollars to support their research. For every $1 the organization invests, researchers on average are able to attract more than $3 in outside funding, according to a 2015 TSET economic impact study by researchers at Northeastern State University.

“Without TSET, this research would not be happening in Oklahoma,” Woods said. “It’s another example of how Oklahoma voters made a wise choice when they created the trust to preserve funding for health.”

TSET was created by a voter-approved constitutional amendment in 2000 to ensure earnings from the invested payments from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement were used to help improve the health of Oklahomans. The TSET Board of Directors, using only the earnings from the endowment trust, makes grants to improve the health of Oklahomans.

TSET works to promote new scientific discoveries and give Oklahomans access to cutting-edge cancer treatments by funding three major research programs: the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Cancer Research Program, the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center and the Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research.

Stephenson Cancer Center

The mission of the Oklahoma TSET Cancer Research Program at the Stephenson Cancer Center is to decrease the burden of cancer by promoting, coordinating and supporting innovative cancer research. It was established in 2012 and funded with a five-year, $30 million grant. TSET-funded research at Stephenson includes the TSET Phase I Clinical Trials Program, which is bringing new therapies to Oklahomans and providing hope. Stephenson has the third highest enrollment in National Cancer Institute clinical trials in the country.

These clinical trials raise the standard of care and improve patient outcomes. Cancer patients also can access new and promising cancer therapies by participating in clinical trials.

By participating in Phase I trials, cancer patients can access very new therapies, including the new generation of precision medicine-based drugs that target specific genetic mutations in an individual’s tumor.

A funding partnerships with TSET, Stephenson Cancer Center, Children’s Hospital Foundation and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center will fund additional research into pediatric cancer trials and increasing knowledge and understanding of childhood cancers.

Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center

Created in 2008 with TSET funding, the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center is also housed at Stephenson Cancer Center and funds behavioral and biomedical research in cancer and tobacco-related diseases.

These investments also move the Stephenson Cancer Center closer to earning a comprehensive cancer center designation from the National Cancer Institute, opening the door to significant external resources to support cancer research.

Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research

Established in 2010 with TSET funding, Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research promotes research in the emerging field of adult stem cell research by awarding research grants to scientists in Oklahoma, recruiting researchers to the state and conducting public education.

OCASCR’s goal is to establish Oklahoma's excellence in one of the fastest-growing areas of medical research and serve as a trusted resource for public information.

For more information, visit tset.ok.gov/content/research.