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Oklahoma State Department of Health announces state pandemic center

Posted at 1:43 PM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 14:43:09-04

TULSA, Okla. — The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence (OPCIE), the first center of its kind in the nation.

Officials said the center is focusing on the intersection of agriculture, animal and human medicine, food safety, public health testing and preparedness.

“Today is an exciting day for our state and nation as we establish the Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “This center is going to make Oklahoma a Top 10 state in health care innovation and research, as the work completed here will lead global efforts in pandemic preparedness and other public health issues.”

The center is going to be in Stillwater. It is designed to serve as a defense against any future biosecurity-threatening diseases and officials hope to leverage Oklahoma’s rural and urban assets to benefit public health.

“Our integrated approach to public health, diagnostic capabilities and specimen collection will become the gold standard for detecting, responding to and monitoring global health pandemics through the OPCIE,” said Dr. Lance Frye, Oklahoma State Commissioner of Health. “We believe this unique approach positions Oklahoma as a national and global leader in pandemic preparedness and research.”

The center is partnering with Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine and numerous other public and private partners.

Officials said the Public Health Lab is going to be a pillar of OPCIE and 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.

“The center will become the national model for the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive approach to promoting and preserving public health,” said Elizabeth Pollard, Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Innovation. “The OPCIE is the perfect intersection of urban and rural communities, agriculture, animal and human medicine and public and private partnerships. Today would not be possible without a lot of hard work put in by state and legislative leadership, who have positioned Oklahoma as a national leader. Creating this center of excellence in Oklahoma allows our state to leverage our local expertise and federal assets while we work to lead the nation in pandemic preparedness.”

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