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OHSU research building named for noted molecular biologist

Lamfrom, the late sister of Columbia Sportswear Chair Gert Boyle, blazed a trail for women in science, working with Nobel laureates and mentoring renowned scientists

Oregon Health & Science University has named a research building after the late Hildegard Lamfrom, Ph.D., who was one of the 20th’ century’s most influential and accomplished women in the emerging field of molecular biology during an exceptional career spanning four decades.

Lamfrom has been honored in several gifts to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. The building naming was suggested by OHSU following Gert Boyle’s $100 million gift made as part of the two-year Knight Cancer Challenge fundraising campaign. Lamfrom is one of Boyle’s two sisters and was also influential in guiding the early career of Brian Druker, M.D., director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, when he was studying chemistry.

“It is highly fitting that OHSU’s biomedical research building is now named after a pioneering female scientist who contributed so much to this field,” said OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A. “We are honored by the continuing generosity of the Boyle family and this new, highly meaningful connection with Dr. Lamfrom. Her career serves as a reminder of the power of a single individual to impact many lives, and will be a continuing inspiration to current and future generations of OHSU scientists.”

The Hildegard Lamfrom Biomedical Research Building houses some of OHSU’s most impactful research labs. On its 11 floors, researchers are probing the genetic and molecular causes of childhood diseases, uncovering the viral and environmental causes of asthma, researching inflammatory eye diseases, developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and exploring cancer cell signaling, and cell and gene therapies, as well as stem cell production.

In addition, the powerful magnetic resonance imaging systems for the Advanced Imaging and Research Center (AIRC) is housed in the building. This system has enabled OHSU to remain at the forefront of medical imaging as it gives OHSU scientists unparalleled views of the inner workings of living tissues, making it possible to examine a wide variety of disease processes in exceptional detail.

The building also serves as the current home of Druker’s research laboratory, which is focused on developing treatments for blood cancers.

Lamfrom broke new ground in the field of protein synthesis, and over the course of her lengthy career she crossed paths with some of the most noted biomedical researchers of the day, including the team that cracked the DNA code. She also was a passionate mentor, encouraging many renowned scientists in addition to Druker, who is credited with pioneering the field of precision cancer medicine. Lamfrom died of cancer in 1984 at age 62.

The naming of the Lamfrom Biomedical Research Building follows a series of gifts made to OHSU to honor Lamfrom by Gert Boyle, her son, Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle, and his wife, Mary.

In 2010, Gert Boyle, and Tim and Mary Boyle, donated $2.5 million to create the Hildegard Lamfrom Endowed Chair in Basic Science at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, which is now held by Lisa Coussens, Ph.D.

In June 2014, Tim and Mary made an additional $10 million gift to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to create a named mentorship fund honoring Lamfrom. Weeks later, Gert Boyle announced a $100 million donation to the institute.

Both of these gifts were part of the Knight Cancer Challenge launched by Nike Co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, in 2013 with a pledge to give OHSU $500 million for cancer research if it could raise another $500 million as part of a two-year fundraising campaign.

The extended Boyle family recently gathered on the OHSU campus for a private event celebrating the naming of the biomedical research building in Lamfrom’s honor.


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