Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) today announced a $25 million philanthropic partnership with Bob and Charlee Moore — founders of Milwaukie-based Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods — to confront what is widely considered to be the world's greatest contributor to the rise of chronic disease: poor nutrition.
The Moores' $25 million commitment will establish the Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness at OHSU. Its ambitious aim: to halt the rampant health problems caused by unhealthy eating and inadequate nutrition through cutting-edge research and community outreach.
Nutritionally linked conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, autism, heart disease and hypertension have risen sharply along with the post-World War II advent of processed convenience foods that are high in sugar and fat but low in nutritional value. Experts call this phenomenon "high-calorie malnutrition," and research is proving that its consequences can last for generations. To break this unhealthy chain, the Moore Institute will translate OHSU's internationally renowned research in nutrition and human health into a powerful call to action for the public, policymakers and health care providers.
"The Moores' passion and common-sense philosophy about better health through wholesome foods aligns perfectly with OHSU's mission to create a healthier world for future generations," said OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A. "The partnership made possible by their philanthropy will be a vehicle for those positive changes, and we are profoundly grateful."
OHSU Foundation President Allan Price agreed. "Throughout the history of OHSU, transformational investments such as the Moores' have helped us to raise the standard of health care and biomedical science. The Knight Cancer Institute, the Vollum Institute, Casey Eye Institute and the Dotter Interventional Institute all continue to drive progress and give patients hope. The Moore Institute is another extraordinary opportunity to make lasting, positive changes in human health," he said.
"Food is such a basic part of life that it's the ideal place to start making big changes in public health," said Mark A. Richardson, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the OHSU School of Medicine. "From an institutional perspective, we need to lay out what we already know — for example, that junk food is bad for you — review what we are learning about the role of nutrition in health, and then establish what we must do to get that information to the community in ways that change the status quo. This pledge will put us in a position to call out the root causes of today's dietary challenges so that we as a society can confront them, fix them and begin to help guide future generations toward a path of wellness through healthy eating."
Housed within the OHSU School of Medicine, the Moore Institute will provide a unifying structure and intellectual leadership for five broad areas of research, clinical care and education:
- Childhood obesity
- Women's health and maternal/fetal medicine
- Research into epigenetics and the developmental origins of health and disease
- Community outreach and translation of research into effective public programs
- Graduate education and post-graduate training of physicians, nurses, dentists and allied health professionals
"Just as the healthy benefits of whole grain come from the way its individual components work together in the body, the strength of the Moore Institute will come from bringing everyone in the nutritional arena together under a set of common goals," Richardson said. "Through this potent blend of basic science, clinical care, professional education and community advocacy, the institute will become the epicenter of irrefutable evidence that will change how health care providers, policymakers and the general public approach the subject of healthy eating."
As the first step toward change, the commitment to donate will endow the Bob and Charlee Moore Chair for Nutrition and Wellness. This yet-to-be-appointed faculty leader will spearhead initiatives in science and policy as OHSU's top nutrition leader. The institute's reach will extend across the university and to other area institutions, such as the National College of Natural Medicine and Oregon State University, where the Moores have made other significant investments in nutritional health and science programs.
OHSU brings to the partnership numerous interrelated research programs of international stature, many of which focus on the complex relationship between a woman's nutritional health history and the development and lifelong health of her offspring. OHSU faculty members developed the once-controversial theory that a baby's future health is heavily influenced by what happens during the first 1,000 days after conception. Now widely embraced, these concepts are showing how a child's genes can be programmed in the womb and during the first few years after birth to increase his or her likelihood of obesity, heart disease, autism and other chronic conditions. OHSU hopes the Moore Institute will accelerate the translation of this knowledge into new preventions and treatments.
For the Moores, the commitment is a key part of the mission they — and everyone at Bob's Red Mill — set out to accomplish every day: to create permanent, positive change through nutrition. The Moores' investment is a key part of the legacy of sustained good health through diets rich in whole grains, fiber and complex carbohydrates.
"Charlee and I have always been inspired by challenge," said Bob Moore, 82. "I can't think of a tougher challenge than changing people's behavior when it comes to their diets, so I feel very inspired to be part of this institute. Working together we can rise to that challenge and motivate people — especially mothers-to-be — to make the kinds of changes that promote their own and their babies' health. I'm very excited about what we can achieve."
"The pledge is an example of the unique role that philanthropy can play in addressing major societal problems," said Price. "Transformational philanthropy is what drives forward big ideas that make a lasting difference in people's lives. There is no clearer example of that than the Moore Institute. We are honored by Bob and Charlee Moore's confidence in OHSU's ability to carry their legacy forward."
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