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Research & Innovation

When you choose OU Health to provide medical and healthcare services for you and your family, you benefit from the dynamic combination of highly trained medical experts, skilled healthcare professionals, clinician-scientists, researchers and the latest emerging technologies found at Oklahoma’s only academic medical center – where advanced research and innovative scientific studies lead to groundbreaking treatments and exceptional patient care not available anywhere else in the state.

High-Quality Patient Care & Continuous Improvement

At OU Health, you and your loved ones always receive the highest-quality care, while we continually investigate new opportunities to improve treatments, services and interactions in collaboration with research activities of our academic partner, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC).

Research to Understand Complex Diseases

Hundreds of researchers in our academic healthcare system engage in research projects each day, seeking to better understand complex diseases, improve treatments and much more. Key areas of research include cancer, diabetes, neuroscience and vision, and infectious diseases and immunology.

Types of Research

The academic specialists and researchers at OU Health perform several types of research with the overarching goal to help people of all ages who live with or experience a variety of health conditions.

Basic Science Research

In basic science research, usually conducted in a laboratory, scientists seek to improve our understanding of how the human body works when it’s well and when it’s sick. Basic science research studies may examine a wide range of issues such as:

  • Patterns of metabolism and methods of preventing diabetes in the first 1,000 days of life, from the point of conception to two years
  • The role of a protein that triggers cachexia, a muscle-wasting condition that occurs in 80% of people who have pancreatic cancer
  • Bacteria that seeps into microscopic cracks of a tooth cavity filling and ways to improve the adhesive resin of the filling to attack the bacteria

Translational Research

Translational research takes discoveries made in basic science laboratories and investigates ways to convert them into actual treatments for people with health issues. Often described as moving from “the bench to the bedside,” translational research looks for ways to transform research and move it from the laboratory bench to the direct care you receive from your doctor or when hospitalized. In this approach, a researcher may:

  • Collaborate with a biotechnology company to discover targets that will help the body’s immune system find and kill cells infected with the COVID-19 virus. The research outcomes would then be used to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.
  • Develop a compound that’s been shown in the laboratory to prevent formation of ovarian cancer tumors without side effects. The drug is now being tested in humans in a clinical trial.
  • Discover the biological root of unexplained neuropsychiatric symptoms. The discovery has been translated into a panel of tests now used around the world to diagnose neuropsychiatric disorders in children.

Clinical Research & Clinical Trials

Clinical research focuses on specific solutions and examines how they function in humans. Clinical research often takes the form of clinical trials – studies performed in humans to determine whether new drugs and other therapies are safe and effective for specific diseases or conditions. Through OU Health facilities like Stephenson Cancer Center, Oklahoma’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Center, you can receive the newest and most innovative treatments that result from clinical trials.

At OU Health, clinical research explores a wide range of topics and may include a variety of specific projects. For example:

  • A cardiologist studies the effectiveness of a non-invasive stimulation of the vagus nerve to regulate the abnormal heart rhythm of atrial fibrillation. A small device connected to a person’s ear delivers a low-level electrical stimulation to the nerve.
  • A pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon treats babies born withhypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) and studies the effectiveness of injecting the baby’s umbilical cord blood cells directly into the heart to improve heart function.
  • A clinical trial studies the effectiveness of a drug for women with ovarian cancer who have undergone four or more rounds of chemotherapy.

How Academic Medical Research Benefits You

Bringing advanced research directly to the healthcare services you receive makes OU Health different from other healthcare systems in Oklahoma and across the region.

When you and your family work with the experts and specialists at OU Health, part of your care happens at our Oklahoma City campus, home to the largest and most advanced biomedical infrastructure in Oklahoma and the researchers who receive awards of millions of dollars in state and federal grants annually.

Those resources provide momentum for our healthcare commitment – to improve the quality of life for you and your loved ones and to discover new methods for preventing, treating and curing diseases we all face.

Find Out More About Research

Discover how OU Health scientists decipher the mysteries of human disease that hold great promise for innovations to improve your health and well-being.

Learn more about research at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.