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PHF Awards Grants to OU Health Sciences Center for COVID-19 Research

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PHF Awards Grants to OU Health Sciences Center for COVID-19 Research

PHF Awards Grants to OU Health Sciences Center for COVID-19 Research

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Presbyterian Health Foundation (PHF) is awarding $175,000 to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center for researchers to launch investigations into the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. These funds will be augmented with $125,000 from the OU Health Sciences Center for a total of $300,000 in seed grant funding.

The OU Health Sciences Center anticipates funding 12 pilot projects at $25,000 each. Research projects will focus on the cellular and molecular aspects of SARS-CoV-2 infection, host immune responses to the virus, detection, and clinical characteristics of COVID-19. The awards are considered seed funding that will allow researchers to launch investigations, then leverage their discoveries to earn federal funding from the National Institutes of Health.

“PHF’s regular support of seed grants, like this round announced for COVID-19 research, is at the heart of what we do,” said PHF President Tom R. Gray, III. “Helping Oklahoma researchers launch new COVID-19 research projects and potentially leverage external funding to move their discoveries forward not only supports an important sector of our local economy, but is a great investment in the public health of Oklahomans, especially during this unprecedented time in our lives.”

PHF has been a major funder of research programs at the OU Health Sciences Center. Since 2014, PHF has granted $16.1 million toward research funding, which scientists have used to further their investigations and acquire necessary equipment. Researchers have leveraged the total amount of PHF funding to earn $121.5 million in additional research grants from multiple federal funding sources.

With the outbreak of a global pandemic, PHF funding will again be crucial as researchers pursue answers concerning COVID-19, said James Tomasek, Ph.D., Vice President for Research at the OU Health Sciences Center. Because the virus has never been seen before in humans, there are many unanswered questions; uncovering those answers will hold the key toward improved patient care, vaccine development, and methods of controlling the virus in the future.

“Research is an integral component of the response to COVID-19, and we are grateful to PHF for its generous support. It will allow our researchers to launch a number of different projects into the behavior of the virus and methods to better detect and treat it,” Tomasek said. “Our research community is eager to investigate the intricacies of the virus and contribute to the global effort against the pandemic.”


About the Presbyterian Health Foundation:

Presbyterian Health Foundation (PHF) ( is a private Oklahoma City-based foundation dedicated to accelerating lifesaving scientific research from ideas to medical innovations. Since 1985, PHF has granted over $165 million to biotechnology and medical research organizations in Oklahoma with an emphasis on the Oklahoma Health Center.


OU Medicine — along with its academic partner, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center — is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system of hospitals, clinics and centers of excellence. With 11,000 employees and more than 1,300 physicians and advanced practice providers, OU Medicine is home to Oklahoma’s largest physician network with a complete range of specialty care. OU Medicine serves Oklahoma and the region with the state’s only freestanding children’s hospital, the only National Cancer Institute-Designated Stephenson Cancer Center and Oklahoma’s flagship hospital, which serves as the state’s only Level 1 trauma center. OU Medicine is the No. 1 ranked hospital system in Oklahoma, and its oncology program at Stephenson Cancer Center and OU Medical Center ranked in the Top 50 in the nation, in the 2019-2020 rankings released by U.S. News & World Report. OU Medicine was also ranked by U.S. News & World Report as high performing in four specialties: Ophthalmology in partnership with Dean McGee Eye Institute, Colon Surgery, COPD and Congestive Heart Failure. OU Medicine’s mission is to lead healthcare in patient care, education and research. To learn more, visit