Dr. Andy Weyrich discusses organizational strengths and goals.
On Jan. 4, Dr. Andy Weyrich moved from Utah to become the new president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. Standing in view of the beautiful buildings that make up its campus in downtown Oklahoma City, his assistant, Gina Leeds, let me know that he probably would not allow me to call him Dr. Weyrich: “He’s wonderful. And he’ll just have you call him Andy.”
She is not the only one to hold a high opinion of the new president. Len Cason, chair of OMRF’s board of directors, said, “We searched for a visionary scientific leader who would build on OMRF’s reputation as home to the best and the brightest in research. Dr. Weyrich is in a class of his own. He is a highly respected researcher who will propel the foundation to even greater heights.”
Weyrich, a National Institutes of Health-funded investigator, came to the foundation through the University of Utah, where he was the vice president for research. An internationally recognized leader in blood clotting, his discoveries have facilitated key advances in the field of hematology.
OMRF is Oklahoma’s prized non-profit research and treatment facility. Since 1946, it has been conducting biomedical research and developing new breakthroughs and medications in research areas such as Alzheimer’s, lupus, multiple sclerosis, cancer and diabetes, just to name a few. While there are other medical research organizations like this across the United States, Weyrich says what sets OMRF apart is the board and the diverse community of donors. “We are supported by a huge donor base made up of many different kinds of people across Oklahoma. That was what attracted me to this place. It’s non-profit. We don’t do this work to make money, we do it to change lives.”
Walking down hallways of labs and scientists hard at work, he explains his future goals for the foundation. “I am working to meet with each and every one of the scientists here. Part of my job is to build trust with them and then begin to build on our current vision. I also want to further raise awareness all over Oklahoma about what OMRF does. I want to be able to attract more investigators to share in our work.” Over the next year, in celebrating the 75th anniversary of OMRF, Weyrich plans to visit all 77 counties in Oklahoma in order to spread the word about the incredible work that the facility does. He wants to raise awareness and invite every county in Oklahoma to take part in the work.
Dr. Weyrich — or Andy, as he might ask you call him — explains that many days at lunch, the courtyard is filled with colleagues talking about their current research with another. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to join in the work here. No matter where you stand politically, everyone supports this place and our mission. OMRF brings everyone together.”