Portland, Ore.The Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology officially will become the OGI School of Science & Engineering at Oregon Health & Science University on Sunday, July 1.
"After years of hard work, and sweat and tears, OGI is about to inaugurate an exciting new chapter in its history," said OHSU board member Sen. Mark Hatfield while addressing OGI's graduating class earlier this month.
Both institutions will benefit from the merger at a time when the need for collaboration between health sciences and technology becomes more and more apparent. These benefits range from the design of new medical instrumentation to the development of bioinformatics databases to the creation of new software for research and patient care. The merger also is expected to assist OGI in expanding its computer science, electrical engineering, computer engineering and environmental science programs. Collaboration among researchers at both OGI and OHSU already is under way.
"For certain parts of our operation, such as the build out of genomics and proteomics, OGI's expertise in database management and electrical engineering should be very advantageous," said OHSU President Peter Kohler, M.D. "The logical place for new technology used for this kind of work would be our expanded west campus, which now will include OGI."
OGI's technological expertise also is expected to enhance OHSU's ability to better serve people statewide.
"I would hope, for instance, that we can incorporate every corner of the state into our research mission," Kohler added. "By using the latest technologies available people from eastern and southern Oregon would be able to take part in clinical trials as easily as those who live in the northwest corner of the state."
Combining the two institutions also is expected to accelerate the creation of companies in the high-technology, biotechnology and biomedical engineering sectors in the state, according to Ed Thompson, Ph.D., president of OGI, who will become an OHSU vice president and dean of the university's newest school. OGI's high-tech business management program will likely play an important role in those efforts, he added.
Among the immediate priorities following the merger are:
- To recruit faculty who will solidify and expand the new school's expertise in several fields, including computer science, electrical engineering, computer engineering and environmental science. The ultimate goal is to expand the number of OGI faculty by 50 percent, reaching a total of nearly 100.
- To explore and establish research programs in areas that exist at the boundary of computer science, electrical engineering, environmental science and the biosciences. One promising area, for example, involves silicon biosensors that could monitor a range of biological processes.
- To recruit a director for a biomedical engineering program that already has received $4 million in funding from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.
- To further expand educational offerings targeted at area high-tech industry needs.
OHSU's name was changed from Oregon Health Sciences University to Oregon Health & Science University in April in preparation for the merger. In addition to changing the university's title, Senate Bill 511 expanded OHSU's mission to include OGI's mission to provide education and conduct research in engineering, technology and economic and business development to meet regional and national needs. It also increased OHSU's board from seven to 10 members to accommodate the university's newly expanded roles.
OGI was founded in 1963 to provide training and expertise to the state's rapidly expanding high-tech industry. During the past decade alone the school has awarded more than 1,000 graduate degrees, offered hundreds of continuing education classes and workshops, and pursued more than $100 million in largely federally funded research.
OHSU currently includes the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine and Nursing; OHSU Hospital and Doernbecher Children's Hospital; dozens of primary care and specialty clinics; multiple research institutes, and several public service and outreach units.