Oregon Health & Science University has just opened a building likely to be the most environmentally friendly research facility in the Pacific Northwest. The OHSU Biomedical Research Building is on track to earn silver certification from the nation's premier authority on green construction. Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) will make the Biomedical Research Building the highest rated LEED research facility in the region.
Energy saving features; stormwater management; erosion control; water efficient appliances; construction waste recycling; and wide use of daylighting, sustainable wood products, and recycled and local materials all contribute to the building's green design.
Research already is under way at the new 12-story, 274,000-square-foot Biomedical Research Building where approximately 60 of the nation's leading scientists and their teams are working to find treatments and cures for major human diseases. Multidisciplinary teams of scientists and clinicians will use sophisticated tools to collaborate in new ways, translating basic science into better treatments, faster cures and commercializable technologies.
Working together in Biomedical Research Building labs, researchers will study the prevention, cause, diagnosis and treatment of diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, arthritis, obesity and multiple sclerosis; diseases that affect organs like the brain, heart, eyes, nervous system and lungs; and diseases that affect adults and children.
OHSU research programs to be housed in the building include the Advanced Imaging Research Center, the OHSU Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Cell Signaling, the Pape Family Pediatric Research Institute, a laboratory-based pulmonary and critical care medicine division, the Chemical Biology program, the Center for the Study of Weight Regulation and Associated Disorders, the Oregon Stem Cell Center and the Jungers Center, which focuses on neuroscience. The Casey Eye Institute will expand its basic research programs in the building's labs. (Descriptions of these programs are available in the Biomedical Research Building program fact sheet linked above.)
Construction of the Biomedical Research Building, formation of new research programs and centers, and recruitments of renowned scientists and clinicians were made possible through the Oregon Opportunity, the state-backed and voter-approved investment to enhance OHSU's and Oregon's leadership in biomedical research. The Oregon Legislature authorized the sale of $200 million in bonds in 2001. Oregon voters approved this initiative in 2002. The public effort was to be matched by a six-year, $300 million private fundraising campaign, an effort that the OHSU Foundation already has surpassed.
"The Biomedical Research Building is the embodiment of the Oregon Opportunity," said Peter Kohler, M.D., OHSU president. "It represents OHSU's aspiration for an Oregon where some of the world's best and brightest minds are brought to bear on the most deadly and confounding diseases. It represents the commitment of Oregonians to this aspiration demonstrated by voter support of the Oregon Opportunity. And it represents concrete steps OHSU has taken during the last three years to make this aspiration a reality."
More than 71,000 individual donors have pledged more than $350 million to the Oregon Opportunity effort. These funds will support research, education, outreach and community service at OHSU. Some 48,000 campaign donors, about 70 percent, are new to OHSU philanthropy.
"The Oregon Opportunity has captured the imaginations of Oregonians," said Steve Sanders, OHSU Foundation president. "Although work continues to fund some key priorities, the campaign has been a huge success in dollars raised, goals surpassed and new donors engaged."
The formal fundraising campaign continues through the end of June. Already, $25 million has been raised to support the Biomedical Research Building. The foundation is seeking an additional $14.8 million in philanthropy for the building.
The promise of the Biomedical Research Building has helped OHSU recruit or secure commitments from more than half of the 70 top-tier researchers it plans to bring on board as part of the Oregon Opportunity. They come from prestigious institutions such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Stanford University, the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University. Many bring with them millions in additional research dollars that filter back into the Oregon economy.
"The Oregon Opportunity is a long-term commitment that will pay strong dividends in the years to come by translating fundamental discoveries to the treatment of human disease as rapidly as possible," said Dan Dorsa, Ph.D., OHSU vice president for research. "Already we are seeing some positive results."
The Oregon Opportunity has sparked research funding. OHSU's competitive research awards have grown more than 24 percent since the university received the first half of public Oregon Opportunity funds. Awards have grown from $221 million in fiscal year 2002 to $274 million in fiscal year 2005. More than 94 percent of the $274 million in research funds earned in 2005, or nearly $258 million, came from out-of-state sources.
Technology commercialization is accelerating. In 2005 alone, OHSU announced 101 new inventions or discoveries and 63 new patents were filed. Six new companies based on OHSU technologies were founded. In the last three years, OHSU discoveries have led to 19 spin-off companies and 106 license agreements.
Benefits are felt across the state. OHSU is investing in rural health through the Oregon Opportunity with financial support for the Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network. One of only six rural research networks in the nation, it infuses research funding and expertise directly into 26 rural Oregon communities through offices in Lincoln City, Klamath Falls, La Grande and at OHSU in Portland.