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TSET Support for Research Helps to Attract World-Class Researchers to Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 6, 2014) – Sustained support and investment from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust  has helped to increase access to cutting edge cancer treatment and research in Oklahoma.

The TSET Board of Directors has committed $45 million to medical and cancer research over five years to three research entities, the Stephenson Cancer Center, Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research (OCASCR) and the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center (OTRC). For every $1 TSET puts toward scientific research, institutions are attracting at least $3 in outside research dollars.

The Stephenson Cancer Center recently announced it has been selected as one of 30 “Lead Academic Sites” to be included in the National Cancer Institute’s National Clinical Trials Network. Lead Academic Sites will work to design and conduct cancer clinical trials. Lead Academic Site designation is awarded through a federal research grant that will bring over $6 million in funding to Oklahoma over the next five years. This designation establishes the Stephenson Cancer Center as a national center of excellence in conducting innovative clinical trials research.

Grants to the three research centers help support the work of more than a dozen researchers and scholars, including scientists considered to be leaders in their fields, said Dr. Robert Mannel, director of the Stephenson Cancer Center. In the past year, scientists from leading academic cancer centers including,  the Mayo Clinic, the Huntsman Cancer Institute, the University of Pittsburg  and the University of Washington have been recruited to do cancer research in Oklahoma. These scientists also bring with them external grant funding from national organizations, including the National Institutes of Health.

“Researchers (or scientists) don’t come here because they think it’s a dead end,” said Mannel.  “They come here because they see the opportunity, growth and vision, and TSET is a big part of that.”

This year almost 20,000 Oklahomans will be diagnosed with cancer, and almost 8,000 state residents die of cancer. The Stephenson Cancer Center is a national leader in offering patients opportunities to participate in National Cancer Institute-sponsored clinical trials.The Stephenson currently has over 200 active clinical trials that patients can access, both in Oklahoma City and through a network of health care providers across the state. The TSET Phase I Clinical Trials Program provides Oklahomans with late-stage and recurrent cancers access to the newest therapies when other treatment methods may have failed. Over 600 cancer patients from Oklahoma and surrounding states have participated in this program.

Technology investments at the Stephenson Cancer Center and OCASCR provide scientists and researchers across the state access to microscopes, tissue banks and other resources needed to continue produce the advancements and discoveries in Oklahoma.

At OCASCR, which is jointly governed by the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF), the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, scientists have attracted more than $25 million in national grant dollars. TSET, which began funding OCASCR in 2010, has provided valuable seed funding that help scientists do early research necessary for strong proposals to attract national research dollars.

OTRC is home to nationally known researchers on nicotine addiction, electronic smoking devices and best practices in treating tobacco addiction. OTRC co-director and TSET Research Scholar Theodore Wagner was recently featured in a New York Times article about the proliferation of e-cigarettes in Oklahoma.

“The TSET board of directors are proud to support centers of excellence in research in cancer and other tobacco-related diseases. We are keeping the promise to Oklahoma voters who approved the 2000 Constitutional amendment to create TSET,” said Casey Killblane, chair of the TSET Board of Directors. “The collaboration and partnership of these three research institutions are leveraging resources and technology to provide Oklahomans with world class care and fostering discoveries.”

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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
For more information contact:
Julie Bisbee, julieb@tset.ok.gov
Cell: 405-301-3693

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The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working toward 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.