Tag Archives: OU Health Sciences Center

OU Scientist Named a National Academy of Inventors Fellow

A note from Dan- The following is a news release from the University of Oklahoma

Dr. Heloise Anne Pereira, courtesy University of Oklahoma

Dr. Heloise Anne Pereira, courtesy University of Oklahoma

Norman, Okla.—University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Professor Heloise Anne Pereira has been named a 2016 National Academy of Inventors Fellow, a high professional distinction awarded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.

Pereira has been on the OU Health Sciences Center faculty for the past 23 years.  Throughout her career, she has been a leader in promoting entrepreneurship and collaboration between academia and the biotechnology industry.  Her research has resulted in numerous patents, and she has transitioned innovative technology from her academic research laboratory into a successful company for commercialization.

In her academic role, Pereira serves as associate dean of research in the OU College of Pharmacy, dean of the Graduate College, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and adjunct professor in cell biology and pathology.  She was awarded the Henry Zarrow Presidential Professorship for Excellence in Scholarship and Teaching from 2008-2012.  Pereira has published 34 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and has contributed to six book chapters.

Pereira is known internationally for her expertise on the naturally occurring protein CAP37 and has been invited to make numerous presentations on her research and commercialization experiences around CAP37-derived antimicrobial peptides.  She has received numerous awards, including the distinction of Fellow to both the American Association for Advancement of Science and American Association of College Pharmacy Academic Research Program.

Pereira has been studying the naturally occurring CAP37 protein for over 25 years.  Through her research, she identified and developed novel CAP37-derived antimicrobial peptides that have the ability to kill bacteria that are resistant to standard antibiotics.  Currently, she has 14 U.S. patents, 4 foreign patents and numerous pending U.S. and foreign applications directed to these novel peptides and their therapeutic uses in infections.

In 2005, Pereira founded the company Biolytx Pharmaceutical Corp., and she currently serves as Chief Scientific Officer for the company.  In the last 10 years, antibiotic-resistant infections have risen around the world, and new therapeutic strategies for treating antibiotic-resistant infections are urgently needed.  Biolytx is working to meet this unmet need and is in pre-clinical development of antibiotic peptides for use in treatment of ocular, topical and serious hospital-acquired infections.

Pereira has been awarded over $7 million in grants to support the commercialization of new antimicrobial therapeutics.  Two basic research grants totaling $3.7 million were awarded to Pereira for basic research on the naturally occurring CAP37 and CAP-37-derived peptides.  An additional $3 million from state-supported funds has been awarded to Pereira and to Biolytx for applied and translational research.  Recently, Biolytx received $1 million in private seed money for continued commercialization efforts.

Pereira will be inducted on April 15, 2016, as part of the Fifth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexander, Va.  Commissioner for Patents Andrew Hirschfeld will provide the keynote address for the induction ceremony.  Fellows will be presented with a special trophy, medal and rosette pin in honor of their outstanding accomplishments.

HPV Vaccine- Safe, effective, does NOT increase Sexual Activity

The HPV vaccine prevents cancer. Simple as that. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that leads to cervical cancer as well as a number of other cancers. It can be prevented, however, with  a simple vaccine.

Recent studies have found that the HPV vaccine is very safe. One study looked to see if the vaccine causes multiple sclerosis or any other nervous system related diseases. It does not. Another looked to see if girls who get the HPV vaccine become more sexually active. They do not.

This is a safe and effective vaccine that prevents cancers. Can’t say that enough. Dr. Amy Middleman is a researcher with the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She’s studied how parents and health providers approach the vaccine. Her research has found a disconnect between the two, something she says needs to be resolved quickly.

Women In Science

Have you seen the commercial that depicts a little girl growing up, along the way getting more and more discouragement about pursuing science? She’s told not to get her dress dirty or to be careful and let her brother handle a power drill. At the end, it looks like she’s taking notes about a science fair but, really, she’s just putting on lipstick. It packs a powerful message about girls, science, and societal expectations.

The National Science Foundation conducted a study that found girls and boys have the same attitude about science in elementary school. By fourth grade 66% of the girls and 68% of the boys showed an interest in science. But, to me, the telling aspect of the study found that both boys and girls in the second grade draw a scientist as a man, specifically as a white man.

Research done by the National Girls Collaborative Project showed that women are more likely to go into the biological sciences as opposed to computer sciences or engineering. As an example, 44% of the chemists and material scientists in the United States are women but only 4% of the mechanical engineers are women.

So why the discrepancy? Researchers say there are number of factors from cultural norms to ethnicity to economics. I’ve interviewed some very successful female scientists in the past few months. In the video above they explain what they think needs to happen to get more women in science and why we need to take a good long look in the mirror and make some serious societal changes.

Flu Vaccine is Safe and Ready to Protect Your Family

Have you received your flu vaccine yet this year? How about your children? If not, please…please call your doctor or health department to get vaccinated. It’s the best way to protect your family.

I know there are people who say, ‘The flu vaccine caused my Aunt Melba to get the flu once.’ Or, ‘The flu is nothing more than a money-maker for big pharma.’ All I can say is wrong on all accounts. The flu vaccine does not cause anyone to get the flu because the vaccine only contains a dead virus. Dead. Not alive. Dead.

It’s especially important for anyone who is able to get the vaccine to do so in order to protect those who cannot. It’s called herd immunity. Basically, if 9 out of 10 people get vaccinated, that 10th person is less likely to get sick because the 9 people who are vaccinated are keeping the virus at bay.

I talked with Dr. Amy Middleman with the OU Health Sciences Center. She encourages everyone to get vaccinated.

I could refer you to the CDC for all of the information and stats on the flu you can handle, but there’s another site you should check out. Voices For Vaccines is by parents, for parents. It’s straight talk to help parents get a better understanding of vaccines. You can read stories from parents about why they changed their minds about vaccines.

Please get your flu shot.