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Published by Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, 2016-12-13 14:18:52

2016 Fall Bunsen Burner

Bunsen Burner

FALL 2016


‘82 OMRF when I arrived

My Not-Quite 70 Years at OMRF
by Shari Hawkins

I haven’t spent seven decades just moved to Oklahoma from New York to take the next
step in his career, and I did my best to help him up the
at OMRF. But I have been here ladder. I didn’t know what a grant proposal was and sure
didn’t know what mammalian B cells were or what they
for almost half that time—34 did. Eventually, I came to understand just enough to get
the work done and have a rudimentary grasp of what Paul
years in September. It’s hard for did in the lab.

me to me imagine that I’ve now OMRF owned just two buildings then: the “main”
building (today’s Chapman Building) and the Rogers
‘87 spent the majority of my life at the Building (southeast corner of 15th and Phillips now owned
foundation. And I’m sure that the by OU). My first OMRF home was on the second floor of
me who signed on in 1982 wouldn’t the Oklahoma Asthma and Allergy Clinic—still located on
recognize the OMRF that celebrated its 70th
13th Street a block west of here—where OMRF
birthday in August. leased space to house what was then known
as the Cancer Research Program. That
Until I applied for a job here, I’d never heard of OMRF. program eventually moved to the main
building, where it got a new name—the
My interviewer was none other than Chip Morgan, who Immunobiology and Cancer Research
was then the foundation’s personnel director. “Are you Program—and would live for the next
three decades.
comfortable with scientific and medical terms?” he

asked. “Not really,”I said, “but I’m a pretty good

speller. And I spent three years teaching English to

seventh graders.”

I guess that was enough for him, because he

hired me as administrative assistant for a hotshot
young scientist named Paul Kincade. Paul had

My first OMRF boss

continued on page 2

The more
things change...

In my Reagan- little time to adapt to this
era office, I pounded change, but they did. Of the
out manuscripts and foundation’s first few patents,
grant applications on an one resulted in Xigris, an Eli Lilly drug
IBM Selectric typewriter, holding that would reach the market a dozen years
my breath for fear of finding a typo and having to do later. Another would plant the seed for Alexion Corp., now
it all over again. When it came time to send a grant, we one of the largest biotech companies in the world. Talk
packed reams of paper into boxes that we delivered to about a fast start!
FedEx ourselves, usually just before closing time on the I could go on and on about the ways OMRF has been
eve of the deadline. transformed since that time. The way the staff has grown
by almost 200 employees. The addition of the Milligan
Paul led us into a brave, new world a couple of years Center, Bell and Acree-Wordworth/Massman Buildings.
later when he got the foundation’s first personal computer The opening of the Research Tower, the Multiple Sclerosis
that wasn’t connected to OMRF’s mainframe. It was little Center of Excellence and the new
more than a black cube with a screen on one side and parking garage.
a keyboard, but his noisy dot-matrix printer could easily
outperform my typewriting skills. But some things haven’t
changed. And I’m not just
We had ID badges, but no access cards. Instead, we talking about Chip Morgan.
relied on good, old-fashioned locks and keys to provide Well, maybe...
security. But we didn’t lock most doors then anyway.
People came and went as they pleased except in the most Since the day I first walked
sensitive areas, like the animal facility or core labs. in the door, our scientists have
continued to make wonderful
Smoking was allowed in hallways and offices and even discoveries. After all these
part of the OMRF cafeteria, which sat on the second floor years, it’s still often tough for me
roughly where the IT department is now. Like the Research to understand what, exactly, they’ve
Café does today, the old cafeteria served as a place for figured out. But when those Eureka!
employees to congregate each day. They’d share a meal moments find their way into the world’s most prestigious
and a laugh or two over a menu that you could set your scientific journals—and, eventually, into hospitals and
clock by. If you smelled cornbread and beef stew, you clinics around the world—I know they have changed lives.
knew it was Wednesday. Regardless of the day, though, In some small way, I hope I’ve been a part of making those
one table was unofficially reserved for a card-playing discoveries possible.
foursome whose game went on for years.
OMRF has been like a second family to me. Only it’s a
I first stepped into the just-completed tunnel in 1984 with family I’ve chosen. And like any good family member, I’m
OMRF President William Thurman, as we took the official excited to celebrate this special, round-number birthday.
tour to see the new P-1 and P-2 garages. Four years later, Here’s hoping there will be many, many more to come.
I was one of the initial employees to get an email account.
A “VAX” terminal sat beside my typewriter, and I was able
to email my coworkers. But only my coworkers. I’d have to
wait another few years until the advent of networking and
the ability to email outside of OMRF.

Around that same time, OMRF patented our first pieces
of “intellectual property,” a fancy term for the research
that we’d previously shared freely. It took the scientists a

Have you seen them? Danny loved the new art form

A Pistol Pete here. A Han Solo or immediately and has worked hard to

Thunder logo there. How about an office improve his speed and his technique.

shelf occupied by a Sooner Schooner or And the time it takes to create a piece

a TARDIS? (For those who aren’t Doctor seems shocking when compared to the

Who aficionados, the latter is a time quality of the end product. “As long as

machine shaped like a phone booth.) you’re patient and don’t get in a hurry, a

Wooden engravings featuring a wide good-sized project takes 30 minutes from

variety of characters and themes now start to finish,” he says. “Some bigger

adorn work spaces all around the ones take slightly longer. Maybe a couple

foundation, thanks to the artistic talents of hours, but that’s about all.”

of OMRF’s own Danny Walker. Nearly five years after first picking

Danny, who has worked for nearly up pyrography, the technical term for

a decade as a technician in OMRF’s his medium, Danny’s work is now a

Rheumatology Clinic, is a man of hot commodity among his co-workers

many talents. He’s a personal trainer, and friends. He often has as many as

a competitive rower, an avid camper, 20 projects lined up at any given time.

husband and father. In recent years, he’s Danny Walker and, below, He’s also been a generous donor of his
also added another item to that list. his many creations talents, repeatedly giving pieces he has
produced for United Way and other
“I’ve always been somewhat artistic,” he

says. “I took art in school, and my wife has OMRF fundraisers.

a whole collection of things I drew for her when we were Fredonna Carthen, clinical trial project administrator

dating. She had a thing for Tweety Bird back then, and I for Arthritis and Clinical Immunology, is the recipient of

drew a lot of cartoons.” two of his works, an intricate Pistol Pete displayed proudly

When his son’s birthday rolled around a few years ago, in her office and a birdhouse at her home. “The first time

Danny drew a life-sized Buzz Lightyear cutout for him. I saw some of his work I told him how much I loved it.

That got his artistic juices flowing again, and soon he was It’s just amazing how talented he is,” she says. “He’s also

painting Sooner Schooners and Pistol Petes for his OU extremely humble.”

and OSU fan friends. But a random trip to Hobby Lobby So how does he do it? Befitting his profession, he has

took Danny down a whole new path. it down to a science. He uses a six-step process: Find an

“We were just looking for paint, and a $14 wood-burning image, print it on transparency paper, project the image

kit caught my eye, so I picked it up. I don’t even know onto the wood with an overhead projector, pencil it onto

why,” he says. wood, burn it and stain it.

But he didn’t take to the hobby immediately. In fact, the But as much fun as Danny has creating the art,

kit sat unopened in his house for two years. his favorite part is the happiness his work brings

The day he opted to fire it up was every bit as impulsive to others. “I love doing artwork for

as the decision to add it to his shopping cart in the first people that they can’t get anywhere

place. “I had an old tree stump lying around, so I else,” he says. “I’m always looking

decided to see if I could burn a Pistol Pete into for new ideas and something

it,” he says. “That first project showed me that I different to create. And when

liked wood-burning people love it or want it, that’s

more than painting.” a great feeling.”

Paving Hollywood has its walk of fame. We have ours, too, and it has a
the Way square (or rectangle) waiting just for you!

Brick Sizing You’ve seen the personalized bricks lining the courtyard, and now
you can get one—or several—of your own through the Employee Brick
& Prices 12X12” Campaign. But it’s only for a limited time.

Want to salute your lab team? How about your family members?
Honor a past OMRF employee? Have a saying that motivates you? The
options are endless and entirely up to you.

“People are always asking us how they can get a brick of their own, so
we decided OMRF’s 70th anniversary was a perfect time to have another
brick campaign,” says Allison Parker, OMRF director of development.
“It’s a great way to express yourself and leave your own mark here.”

To sweeten the deal, your brick purchase is tax-deductible and also
qualifies you for OMRF’s tax credit. That means you’ll earn an Oklahoma
state tax credit worth half the amount of your brick purchase. Find out
more at

If you want to see your own sentiment set in stone in the courtyard, you
can place an order now. Forms are available in the Development Office
or Human Resources or can be printed from the intranet. Completed
forms must be submitted to the Development Office by Sept. 30.

If you have questions, please email [email protected] or call

extension 17400.

4x8” 4 Lines of engraving
for $500 or $55.55 /
2 Lines of engraving month for 9 months
for $100 or $11.11 /
month for 9 months


The Animals

Ceremony We partied like it was 1946!





OMRF Holiday

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