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Strategic Research Areas: Norman Campus

Integrative Life Sciences
Solving health and medical problems requires the knowledge of how cells react to other cells. Researchers of the Integrative Life Sciences initiative study the relationships of genes and molecules within living organisms. Major medical breakthroughs in the 21st century will come from understanding these relationships.  The Initiative is made of collaborative teams of engineers, chemists, mathematicians and biologists including scientists at the OU Health Sciences Center who use advanced research tools to see how cells work. This broad approach is based on the recognition that health and life matters begin with the activity of cells.

Contact: George Richter-Addo, PhD and Department Chair, Chemistry, and Faculty Coordinator, ILSI,

K20 Center for Educational and Community Renewal
Building a prosperous economy for tomorrow depends on the curiosity and knowledge that children develop today, especially in science. The K20 Center is an educational and research center that connects university researchers to more than 500 K-12 schools in Oklahoma.  Staffed by faculty in both educational and scientific disciplines, K20 seeks to improve science education through a teaching model that emphasizes student participation. Students learn best when they produce real scientific work. The center has three objectives: 1) further teachers’ subject knowledge with university research -- and show them how to teach that new knowledge; 2) spur student learning through digital educational games; and 3) develop innovative teaching strategies with collaborative teams of school administrators and teachers.

Contact: Gregg A. Garn, Director,

Applied Social Research
The Center for Applied Social Research (CASR) works to enhance understanding of human behavior and to develop solutions to emerging real-world problems. The Center’s roster of researchers come from many social science fields – political science and public administration, anthropology, psychology, communication, geography, and management information systems.  Some topics tackled by CASR researchers include threats addressed by public policy and public opinion, crisis management, health care issues, and the performance and ethics of leaders and scientists.

Contact: Carol L. Silva, Associate Director, Center for Applied Social Research,, and Hank Jenkins-Smith, George Lynn Cross Research Professor,

Weather Radar
One of the key goals of meteorologists, especially in Oklahoma, is to improve warnings of potentially hazardous weather. The improvement and accuracy of weather radar systems is the central goal of the Weather Radar strategic initiative. With several weather operations on the OU Research Campus at the National Weather Center, including NOAA’s National Weather Service Forecast Office, National Severe Storms Laboratory, and Radar Operations Center, OU is poised to be a leader in radar meteorology research, education, training and operations. The Weather Radar initiative includes faculty from meteorology, electrical and computer engineering, computer science, and civil engineering and environmental science. Researchers of this initiative concentrate on improving everyday understanding of radar research, advancing radar hardware, helping build a radar industry, and educating students and the public about radar systems.

Contact: Robert Palmer, Associate Vice President for Research and Director, Center for Applied Research and Develop,

Defense Strategic Initiative

Ensuring safety and security of our nation is a foremost role of government and represents a multi-faceted research challenge involving ever-changing technologies and strategies.  U.S. troops require timely and accurate situational awareness, protection against treats, as well as state-of-the-art medical assessments, services and assistive devices.  Whether they are large, theater-scale systems or lightweight and hand-carried, U.S. military systems must operate effectively.  Current research conducted by OU faculty and students in areas related to defense, security and intelligence is enhanced by the success of the OU Defense Strategic Initiative.  This initiative has directed new resources toward identifying, pursuing and winning DSI grants and contracts while developing the research and administrative infrastructure needed to operate in the DSI space.  Since this initiative was launched in 2010, funding for DSI research at OU from U.S. Department of Defense agencies alone has increased by 177 percent.

Contact:  Robert Palmer, Associate Vice President for Research and Director, Center for Applied Research and Development,

Strategic Research Areas: Health Sciences Center

One in two men and one in three women in Oklahoma will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. In light of these alarming numbers, building strong cancer research and treatment programs is a top priority at OUHSC and the OU Cancer Institute. Supporting this effort to expand cancer research is the OUHSC’s Research Strategic Plan, which has designated new faculty positions and start-up packages to recruit outstanding cancer investigators in the basic, translational and population sciences. These new researchers will bring world-class expertise to the cancer research knowledge base in Oklahoma. They will add to current programs in the areas of women’s cancers, basic cancer research, chemoprevention and community cancer health disparities, especially among Oklahoma’s diverse Native American populations. With the programmatic development enabled by the Research Strategic Plan, the OUCI will aim for a successful National Cancer Institute Center designation from the National Institutes of Health in the next five years.

Contact: Robert S. Mannel, MD, and Director, OU Cancer Institute, or

The OUHSC Strategic Plan identifies diabetes as a primary focus for research on our campus over the next five years. Our goal is to enhance our clinical and basic science research efforts to understand how diabetes develops. This will involve recruiting outstanding researchers who are attracted to, and would complement, some of the excellent research programs on campus that already receive national and international recognition. Through the Oklahoma Diabetes Center, the OUHSC will address the diabetes epidemic by establishing broad-based statewide initiatives to promote excellence in diabetes clinical care, education, prevention and research. The center will operate from three main locations; two will comprise the adult and pediatric centers at OUHSC, the third will be located at the Schusterman Center in Tulsa. From these, outreach efforts will benefit patients all across the state, with particular emphasis on those from minority communities and those who are under-insured. The center will promote diabetes research as its “foundation” activity. The research will be performed across a wide spectrum of disciplines, and will include laboratory-based studies as well as clinical studies to assess new treatments and interventions, and outcomes research. In particular, the center will work closely with the Native American tribes to develop more effective ways to reduce their exceptionally heavy burden of diabetes.

Contact: Jian-Xing Ma, MD, PhD and Chairman of Department of Physiology. or; Kenneth Copeland, MD and Associate Director, Oklahoma Diabetes Center, or

Vision & Neuroscience
Vision/Neuroscience: Research on the causes and treatment of blinding eye diseases has emerged as one of the major areas of both basic and clinical research at the OUHSC. Twenty-one independent investigators in five departments (Ophthalmology, Cell Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Microbiology and Immunology, and Medicine) are conducting cutting-edge basic research in such areas as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, retinopathy of prematurity, bacterial endophthalmitis, and viral infections of the eye. Additionally, 12 OUHSC faculty ophthalmologists at the Dean McGee Eye Institute are involved in 27 clinical trials on diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and pediatric ophthalmology and amblyopia. Collectively, this outstanding group of scientists is making significant discoveries that will benefit the health of our state’s citizens.

Contact: Robert E. “Gene” Anderson, MD, PhD, or; Beverley Greenwood-Van Meerveld, PhD and Director, OU Center for Neuroscience, or

Infectious Diseases

Bacterial infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis and infections by viral agents of hepatitis, influenza and HIV are leading causes of death in adults, while infectious diarrhea is a major cause of childhood death, especially in under-developed countries. Additionally, significant concerns have been raised about infections that are resistant to all forms of antibiotics and about the safety of our food supply. Of late, there is concern about the risk of the release of virulent microorganisms that cause such diseases as small pox, anthrax and plague through a terrorist event. Even more concerning is the possibility of a devastating pandemic infection due to the H5N1 strain of influenza, the so-called “bird flu.” Even conditions that are not traditionally viewed as an infectious disease, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, may have part of their pathogenesis tied to primary infectious diseases. For these and other reasons, the OUHSC has developed significant expertise in basic and clinical microbiology and infectious diseases and has launched a five-year Research Strategic Plan targeting infectious diseases as one of the four areas for research growth.

Contact: Michael S. Bronze, MD and Chairman, Department of Medicine, or