Portland, Ore.The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has awarded a $4 million grant to Oregon Health Sciences University to help transform Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology into the OGI School of Science and Engineering at OHSU. The grant is the Murdock Trust's largest single award ever.
"This generous grant from the Murdock Trust will play a crucial part in supporting our merger with OGI, thus enabling us to pursue research and educational objectives that neither OGI nor OHSU could achieve alone," said OHSU President Peter Kohler, M.D.
The Murdock grant will specifically support the launching of a biomedical engineering program within the new school of science and engineering. Immediate priorities include hiring additional faculty and launching interdisciplinary research that capitalizes on opportunities for collaboration among both OHSU's and OGI's existing investigators in the biosciences, biomedical engineering, computer science, and electrical and computer engineering.The new school of science and engineering also will invest in strengthening its capability to address the research and education needs of OGI's traditional core constituencies, particularly the high-technology industry.
OGI President Ed Thompson predicts that during the next 10 years the new school will nearly double its existing funded research to $30 million a year, will significantly increase student enrollment beyond today's 580, and will add 35 additional faculty for a total of 95.
"Advances in genomics alone have already created enormous amounts of data that demand interdisciplinary analysis within the fields of functional genomics, computational biology, bioinformatics and environmental health, and this merger puts the new school in an optimal position to undertake such interdisciplinary research," Thompson said.
In addition, computer scientists and electrical engineers are increasingly looking for inspiration from biological systems as models to build more robust engineering systems. These approaches are already showing promising results at OGI, and this inspiration from biological systems is expected to accelerate as silicon-based computing nears the limits of what is physically possible. OGI's transformation into the school of science and engineering at OHSU further positions it to accelerate such research.
Following the merger OHSU's name would be changed to Oregon Health "and" Science University. OHSU currently is home to schools of dentistry, medicine and nursing, five research institutes, two hospitals and their clinics, and approximately 200 public service programs.
"This merger will not only impact both institutions, but also the lives of each and every Oregonian," said Kohler. "Recently, a rough map of the human genome was completed. Scientists from OHSU will now work side-by-side with computer scientists from OGI in organizing and analyzing this vast amount of information so that new therapies and cures may be developed."
Slated to take place July 1, the proposed merger of OGI and OHSU is contingent upon approval by the Oregon Legislature.
Murdock Trust grants have had a significant impact on both OGI and OHSU throughout the years. In the past five years alone the Trust has awarded more than $1.2 million to OGI and more than $1.5 million to OHSU.
The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust was created in 1975 through the will of Tektronix co-founder Jack Murdock. The trust is dedicated to enriching quality of life in the Pacific Northwest by providing grants to organizations that seek to strengthen the region's educational and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways.