Lucas Applauds Opening of Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation & Excellence
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) applauded the establishment and opening of the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence (OPCIE). Located in Stillwater, the center will serve as the state’s frontline of defense against any future biosecurity-threatening diseases and will leverage Oklahoma’s unique rural and urban assets to benefit public health.
“The Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence will position Oklahoma to be a nationwide leader at the intersection of agriculture, animal and human medicine, food safety, public health testing and preparedness,” said Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03). “The efforts of Oklahoma’s one-of-a-kind Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence will garner the institutional knowledge of researchers at Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma and the untapped capabilities of the state’s human and animal diagnostic’s labs to conduct state-of-the-art, and truly lifesaving, research. By utilizing public and private partners and resources, the OPCIE will be well-positioned to serve our rural and urban neighbors now and into the future. I appreciate the leadership of Governor Kevin Stitt, Agriculture Secretary Blayne Arthur, Science and Innovation Secretary Elizabeth Pollard, Health Secretary Kevin Corbett and Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye, and I look forward to working together to further Oklahoma’s efforts in biosecurity research and preparedness.”
Partnered with Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, and numerous other public and private partners, OPCIE, alongside the Oklahoma State Department of Public Health’s Public Health Lab, will include a human diagnostic/public health laboratory, a genetic biorepository and a multi-disciplinary basic science lab for human, animal, plant and food-related bioterrorism research.
“Today marks a new beginning for science and innovation in Oklahoma,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “The OPCIE is an incredible investment in public health that puts Oklahoma on track to becoming a Top Ten state, a national and global leader in pandemic preparedness and response and will attract top talent in clinical research, innovative grants and national investment in our great state.”
“Today is an exciting day for the State of Oklahoma and the State Department of Health. Establishing this center in Stillwater in conjunction with the Public Health Lab allows for an unprecedented level of collaboration and knowledge sharing,” said State Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye. “We can improve our public health practices and develop new knowledge when we work together across multiple sectors and pull in insights from different fields of science. With state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure, this facility positions Oklahoma to lead research and develop innovative capabilities to address new national and global public health crises.”
OPCIE’s comprehensive approach to public health is based on the One Health concept – that the health of humans, animals and the environment are interrelated and interconnected. The goal of OPCIE is to prevent health threats at the human, animal and environmental level including zoonotic diseases, food safety and security, vector-borne diseases and environmental contamination.
“The agricultural industry in Oklahoma has long advocated for a One Health approach to public health. Scientific discoveries taking place in animal health have direct implications on human health and vice versa. The establishment of OPCIE is welcome news for our ranchers and farmers who understand the importance of food safety and security to maintaining human health,” said Sec. of Agriculture Blayne Arthur.
“OPCIE broadens and elevates the purpose of the Public Health Lab. This center will position Oklahoma to be at the forefront of studying and addressing pandemics as a public health issue for our state, nation and world,” said Sec. of Science and Innovation Elizabeth Pollard. “COVID-19 has brought to light the urgency for our state to have our own capability to respond to the public health needs of Oklahomans. The OPCIE is meant to become a national leading authority on all aspects of public health to ensure the needs of Oklahomans are addressed without dependence on other states or federal agencies in the midst of an emergency.”