Ground Broken on Research Tower

The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation breaks ground on its new research tower, marking the start of a campus expansion that will nearly double the foundation’s size.
The facility, to be ready by the spring of 2011, sits north of OMRF’s main building at 825 N.E. 13th St. It becomes Oklahoma’s second gold-certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building. Innovative technologies, the most visible of which will be the tower’s helix-shaped wind turbines, will work in concert with other energy-saving features to decrease electricity usage by 37 percent and total power use by 17 percent.
The new tower will not only add 185,000 SF of laboratory, administrative and clinical research space, but it will be the first medical research facility anywhere to generate a portion of its power through wind. It will do so through 24 wind turbines — designed in the shape of DNA molecules — that will sit atop its roof.
At the ceremony, OMRF unveiled one of the turbines, a 20-foot-tall, helix-shaped apparatus that immediately began spinning in the wind. The turbines, whose design is being patented, are soundless and shrouded in materials that accelerate the speed of the wind to double the output. Each year, they will generate 58,000 kilowatt hours of the tower’s electricity.
“This is a watershed moment for OMRF,” OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D., told the crowd of several hundred OMRF employees, board members and visitors at the ceremony. “With this tower, OMRF and Oklahoma will be positioned on the leading edge of biomedical research for many years to come.”
Following completion, the tower is expected to house 300 new OMRF researchers, physicians, technicians and staff members. The total project cost, including construction, equipment, furnishings and recruitment packages for 30 senior-level scientists, is projected to be $125 million. To date, $50 million has been raised for the project, with a lead grant of $15 million from the Oklahoma Opportunity Fund.
“Time and again, the residents of Oklahoma have shown that this is a forward-thinking state with a pioneering spirit,” said Gov. Brad Henry, who spoke at the event. “This is a bold investment that will pay major dividends for our state’s health, environment and economic development. It will, quite literally, transform the future of medical research in Oklahoma.”
When completed, the tower will house a state-of-the-art research clinic for patients suffering from multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases. It will also be home to 34 new laboratories, where scientists will probe medical problems ranging from heart disease to arthritis and immunology.

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