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New agreements strengthen research collaborations among Oregon universities

OHSU joins OSU, PSU, UO, OIT on new agreements to share research facilities
Core agreement
Among the state-of-the-art resources covered by the new agreement, researchers will have access to OHSU’s Multiscale Microscopy Core, which provides advanced scopes and experts to scan biological molecules at near-atomic detail. (OHSU/Fritz Liedtke)

Five Oregon universities have signed new agreements to strengthen collaboration leading to new scientific discoveries.

A new agreement formalizes an arrangement in which scientists at Oregon Health & Science University and four other institutions can share specialized research cores at OHSU, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Portland State University and Oregon Tech. University leaders say the arrangement will ease the ability of scientists to work together to advance scientific discovery, rather than each institution attempting to go it alone.

Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D.
Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D.

“Oregon is a small state,” said Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D., OHSU executive vice president and chief research officer. “We believe the collaborative model will work better to generate new discoveries and products because it enables our scientist to draw on the combined strengths of all of our institutions.”

Under the agreement, researchers at the five universities can make use of dozens of specialized laboratories and centers housed in university facilities across Oregon – including major campuses in Portland, Eugene, Corvallis and Klamath Falls. Barr-Gillespie and chief research officers at the other five institutions signed the reciprocal rate agreement in November.

Barr-Gillespie said he expects it will save as much as 25% from the typical surcharge applied to outside researchers using the centers.

“This means science is going to move just that much faster,” he said.

Modern laboratory instruments and services are far too expensive and specialized for any one researcher to afford or manage on their own. By pooling their resources, university leaders expect to expand access to cutting-edge technology while also encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration between scientists across Oregon.

Among the state-of-the-art resources covered by the new agreement, researchers will have access to OHSU’s Multiscale Microscopy Core, which provides advanced scopes and experts to scan biological molecules at near-atomic detail. Likewise, OHSU scientists will be able to take advantage of the University of Oregon’s Center for Advanced Materials Characterization, where scientists can analyze and build micro materials such as photovoltaic cells.

Intellectual property agreement

In addition to the agreement about shared research cores, the five universities signed a pair of agreements clarifying ownership of intellectual property for discoveries made as a result of research jointly conducted between scientists at OHSU, OSU, UO, PSU and Oregon Tech. The universities now have a unified understanding about sharing intellectual property developed by scientists who may be employed by more than one university, or between scientists collaborating among the state universities.

The agreements mark the latest milestone in a longstanding effort to improve collaboration.

Chuck Williams
Chuck Williams

“The state of Oregon is fortunate to have technology transfer offices that have worked closely together for over 10 years,” said Chuck Williams, associate vice president for innovation at the University of Oregon in Eugene. “Our support of research collaborations between our institutions is long-standing, and we are positioned for even greater opportunities as the Knight Campus engages our sister institutions in enhancing Oregon’s innovation ecosystem.”

Historically, concerns about ownership of intellectual property dampened enthusiasm for such research collaborations. The new agreements are technical but significant in clarifying shared ownership of intellectual property.

“Each university always looks to protect their interest,” Barr-Gillespie said. “It’s far better to get the intellectual property cleared in advance so it doesn’t become a sticking point later.”

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