Business of Health: Philadelphia story bears similarities to OKC's Innovation District

Monday, July 13, 2015

By Stephen Prescott, M.D.
For The Oklahoman
Published: July 12, 2015

Last month, I went to Philadelphia. And despite what W.C. Fields may have led folks to believe, it most definitely was not closed.

By all appearances, the City of Brotherly Love is open for business — and hopping. Indeed, as Oklahoma City strives to transform the Oklahoma Health Center into a thriving, mixed-use innovation district, we can learn some important lessons from Ben Franklin’s hometown.

The trip, which I made with a group of other stakeholders from the Health Center, was arranged by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. Our goal was to get some insight into the University City Science Center, the nation’s oldest and largest urban research park.

Science Center, as it turns out, shares quite a bit with our own Health Center. Like the Health Center, it was started in the 1960s by a consortium of academic and healthcare organizations. And like the Health Center, it was established in a struggling urban neighborhood outside of the core downtown business district.

We modeled our own Health Center after Houston’s Texas Medical Center, which, as you can probably guess by its name, was organized around the principle of bringing together patient care, medical research and healthcare education institutions. In Oklahoma City, that meant creating a center that united patient care (Presbyterian Hospital, which became OU Medical Center), biomedical research (the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation) and medical education (OU Health Sciences Center).

Philadelphia, though, chose a different tack. Although Science Center was located just a stone’s throw from world-leading centers of patient care, research and education, its vision was not to unite these centers. Rather, it chose to create something that complemented and supplemented them.

Dr. Stephen Prescott is president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. He can be reached at

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