The mission of the Stephenson Cancer Center is to improve patient outcomes and reduce financial and medical burdens that accompany a cancer diagnosis. We fulfill this mission through integrated programs of research, clinical care, education and community engagement.
Established in 2001, Stephenson is a critical resource for research-driven, patient-centered, multidisciplinary treatment. Oklahoma’s only NCI-Designated Cancer Center coordinates a statewide network that supports clinical trials and community-engaged research. Oncology services at Stephenson are part of OU Medicine, Oklahoma’s only academic health system with the largest, most comprehensive network of physicians and specialty practice.
Stephenson’s goals are threefold:
- to promote team-based science across disciplines
- to translate ideas from laboratory to clinical setting
- to stimulate research for regional and national impact
More than 130 Stephenson members conduct their work on the OU Health Sciences Center campus in Oklahoma City and the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman. Standout areas of research include:
- Cell signaling and tumor microenvironment
- Cancer nano-medicine
- Bioengineering and imaging
- Cancer chemoprevention
- Gynecologic and pancreatic cancers
- Tobacco research
- Health disparities
Research Programs and Initiatives
Three formal investigative programs form the framework for research activity:
- Cancer Biology focuses on understanding of molecular mechanisms that define normal and neoplastic cell growth in order to gain insight into cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
- Gynecologic Cancers research explores molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis and therapy resistance and response. This program earns national recognition for its work in early- and late-phase clinical trials related to gynecologic malignancies.
- Cancer Prevention and Control investigators work to advance the science and application of cancer prevention, control and survivorship research to limit cancer’s impact and improve outcomes for patients everywhere.
A fourth program in development is Experimental Medicine and Developmental Therapeutics, in which investigators will develop novel therapeutic, chemopreventive and biomarker strategies for translation into more effective clinical applications.
Stephenson houses two prominent research centers: The Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center and the Center for Cancer Prevention and Drug Development. Both promote inter-programmatic and transdisciplinary collaboration.
Research drives superb clinical care. Stephenson is a national leader in early- and late-phase clinical trials. One of 30 Lead Academic Participating Sites (LAPS) in the NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN), Stephenson annually ranks among top LAPS nationally for number of participants in NCTN treatment and precision medicine trials. The Oklahoma TSET (Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust) Early-Phase Clinical Research Program at Stephenson is a top-10 program nationally and provides access to a large portfolio of novel and targeted experimental therapies.
Community outreach activities at Stephenson engage Oklahoma’s large rural and American Indian communities to address disproportionately high rates of cancer that affect these populations. Education, screening and prevention programs as well as community-engaged research benefit underserved and disadvantaged populations across the state.
The educational mission is evident in Stephenson’s role to train the next generation of cancer researchers and oncology health professionals. Stephenson supports extensive education, training and career enhancement programs for students at all levels, with special emphasis on encouraging American Indian and other underrepresented populations toward careers in biomedical research and healthcare.