The Oklahoma Pandemic Center for Innovation and Excellence (OPCIE) officially opened in Stillwater, Okla., this week, presenting a new lab, genetic biorepository, and science lab to address public health concerns.
The facility is meant to serve as a frontline of defense against future biosecurity threats and benefit public health in urban and rural spheres. To help, OPCIE has partnered with Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma, among various other public and private organizations. Its operations — run in concert with the Oklahoma State Department of Public Health’s Public Health Lab — will focus on human diagnostics and public health and research into human, animal, plant, and food-related bioterrorism.
“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,” U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) said. “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.”
OPCIE has pledged itself to a model similar to the One Health concept, which holds that the health of humans, animals, and the environment are interrelated and interconnected. Preventing health threats at one level benefits them all, whether it counters zoonotic diseases, food safety and security, or environmental contamination.
“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,” Dr. Lance Frye, State Commissioner of Health, said. “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.”