$1 Million Gift Bolsters Efforts to Prevent Disease and Elevate Public Health

September 19, 2017

$1 Million Gift Bolsters Efforts to Prevent Disease and Elevate Public Health

For the second time in just over two years, a $1 million gift to the University of Oklahoma College of Public Health will advance work aimed at improving health and quality of life in Oklahoma and beyond.

hudson gift 1Dr. Jason Sanders, senior vice president and provost of the OU Health Sciences Center and Gary Raskob, Ph.D., dean of the College of Public Health announced the gift from Leslie Hudson, Ph.D., and Clifford Hudson of Oklahoma City at the annual Hudson Symposium in Public Health. The gift will expand the endowment that was created in 2015 through a previous gift from the Hudsons. As a result of their generosity, the college will be able to provide a total of five fellowships for research scholars.

“Improving the quality of life and longevity for the citizens of Oklahoma and the globe is the work of public health professionals, and the OU Health Sciences Center is proud to have been a leader in this field for more than 50 years now,” said Sanders. “This gift helps fuel the work of talented research scholars and expert practitioners in a variety of areas within the ever-expanding and increasingly important field of public health. We are extremely grateful to the Hudsons for their vision and continued support of these efforts.”

In 2015, the Hudsons also gave $1 million dollars to the college, funding two inaugural Hudson Fellows in Public Health, thereby advancing research focused on reducing nicotine addiction and teen pregnancy. The newest Hudson Fellows include:

  • Quyen Duong, a doctoral student in biostatistics, whose research involves developing models to predict infants at risk for severe intraventricular hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain). Currently, there are no effective methods of prevention. Duong’s work aims to better predict at-risk infants utilizing measures taken from special, near-infrared headbands.
  • Kaitlin McGrew, a doctoral student in epidemiology. McGrew’s research focuses on quantifying health disparities in Oklahoma and decreasing the burden of stigmatized illnesses such as Hepatitis C virus and substance use disorders.
  • June Dao, a doctoral student in epidemiology with a strong interest in cancer prevention research. Dao’s research aims to better understand the spatial effect of environmental exposures on cancer. She is currently involved in multiple research projects including one that is looking at benzene exposure and birth defects.
  • Kathleen “Kae” Aithinne, a first-year doctoral student in occupational and environmental health. Aithinne’s research interests center on bacteria or viruses that can be suspended in liquids or aerosolized. She hopes to uncover new information that can lead to new mechanisms to reduce infection or re-infection.
  • Wei-Jen Chen, a first-year doctoral student in biostatistics and epidemiology, whose previous research focused on arsenic and urologic cancer in Taiwan. Chen plans to research environmental influences in children’s health.

hudson gift 2“Through training, education and mentorship at the college, as well as the financial assistance provided through the Hudson Fellows in Public Health endowment, these students are able to focus their research skills on critical issues affecting public health in this nation,” said Raskob. “Our inaugural fellows have gone on to apply their research and training in new leadership roles in the field of public health. We believe the same will be true of our newest Hudson Fellows.”

The Hudsons’ support is an integral part of efforts to recruit and retain the best and brightest students to the graduate programs of the College of Public Health, he added.

“College of Public Health students are trained to identify issues, ask the pertinent questions, design and conduct research to answer those questions; analyze and interpret the resulting data; communicate to and advocate for the public. My training in public health gave me skills that are easily translatable into many aspects of my life. We are proud to support the continued mission of this college,” said OU College of Public Health alumna Leslie Hudson, Ph.D.

Dr. Leslie Hudson earned a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy, a master’s in public health and a doctorate in epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma. She also served as a faculty member in the OU College of Public Health, specializing in biostatistics and epidemiology. She continued her service with OU Health Sciences Center as a member of the advisory board of the College of Public Health.

Clifford Hudson is the Chairman and CEO of Sonic Corporation. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from OU, having attended with Phi Beta Kappa and President’s Leadership scholarships. He received a law degree from Georgetown University. In 2001, he received the OU Regents’ Alumni Award, and in 2011 he received OU’s highest honor, an Honorary Degree in humane letters. Hudson currently serves on the board of the OU Foundation.

The OU College of Public Health trains public health scientists who pursue research on contemporary issues in public health such as tobacco use prevention, the prevention and control of infectious and chronic diseases, the role of environmental exposures in health and the administration of health care systems. One of the first accredited schools of public health in the United States, the college provides graduate and professional education for research scientists and for public health practice professionals throughout the state of Oklahoma and the region.

 

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