VGTI Invited to Join Some of the World's Most Respected Research Institutions by Forming a Florida-Funded Infectious Disease Research Institute

PORTLAND, Ore. – Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute is one of a select group of internationally regarded institutions that have been invited to build and operate satellite research facilities entirely funded by, and based in, the state of Florida. The Scripps Research Institute, the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, the Stanford Research Institute and the Torrey Pines Research Institute have all received funds from Florida to build similar institutes in the state. The Max Planck Institute in Germany has decided to participate as well.

VGTI is the only public institution to be invited to join this elite group of research institutes.

Research at the new facility will focus on vaccine development. OHSU’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute in Beaverton, Ore., which served as the inspiration for the new institute, has rapidly gained national attention for its groundbreaking research in this and other areas.

"OHSU was incredibly honored to be invited to take part in this highly collaborative research opportunity along with some of the most outstanding institutes in the world," said Dan Dorsa, Ph.D., OHSU’s vice president for research. "Studies at the institute, conducted collaboratively with Oregon scientists, would benefit Oregon residents in the form of new treatments and breakthroughs that will help improve the health of our population. The invitation is also a nice indication of how OHSU has become nationally recognized, thanks in no small part to research expansion that occurred through the Oregon Opportunity public-private partnership."

In order to fund the center’s startup and the recruitment of new scientists, the state of Florida has earmarked $60 million from the state’s Innovation Incentive Fund plus matching funds from Port St Lucie, St. Lucie County and developers. The fund was established by the Florida Legislature in 2006 as part of an economic development strategy. In addition, the City of Port St. Lucie has committed to providing $53 million for infrastructure expenditures.

Further contract negotiations will begin almost immediately, with the goal of finalizing all construction and funding agreements with the state and local participants in Florida. The facility will initially be housed in the Torrey Pines facility in Port St Lucie, and a dedicated facility would be built adjacent to Torrey Pines in the years to come.

No Oregon or OHSU funds will be directly invested in the center. However, initially some OHSU staff time will be required in order to locate and recruit scientists and a director for the new institute. Research at the facility would be funded by National Institutes of Health research grants and by other funding organizations. Spinoff technologies developed at the Florida institute will remain in the state of Florida. OHSU will receive revenues from the licensing of discoveries in correlation to OHSU’s collaborative role in the discovery.

Scientists in the existing OHSU vaccine facility in Beaverton study a variety of diseases that threaten human health, including AIDS, West Nile virus and monkeypox.

The new Florida research institute will feature its own newly hired, dedicated staff. Researchers currently in Oregon will remain in Oregon but will likely collaborate heavily with the new Florida group and other partners in that state.

"We expect this research venture to greatly expand OHSU and Oregon’s scientific reach," explained Jay Nelson, Ph.D., director of the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute in Beaverton who will also co-direct the new Florida facility. "The most successful research often takes place when partnerships are formed with other institutions. Besides Torrey Pines, this new OHSU facility will be placed in close proximity to The Scripps Research Institute and future Max Planck Institute in West Palm Beach. Past experience has shown that proximity is one of the main factors in promoting these partnerships. This institute in Florida will allow for unique regional partnerships that will cross-connect with operations in Oregon and benefit us all."

Summary

In September 2007, OHSU was contacted by the state of Florida and invited to apply for funding to form an OHSU owned infectious disease research facility along the Atlantic coast of the state. Other world-renowned institutes such as the Scripps Research Institute, the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, the Stanford Research Institute, and the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies in San Diego have all received funds from Florida to build similar institutes in the state. OHSU’s Florida institute would be modeled after the OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute in Beaverton which conducts a variety of studies on infectious diseases and vaccination.

In January 2008, Florida announced that it has earmarked $60 million for the proposed OHSU facility. The City of Port St. Lucie has also committed to provide $53 million of infrastructure expenditures for the project. Further contract negotiations will begin almost immediately with the goal of finalizing all construction agreements and funding agreements with the state and local participants in Florida.

Operational funds will be obtained through National Institutes of Health research grants. The facility would be affiliated with OHSU and the current VGTI facility in Beaverton. However, staff from the Beaverton institute will not be transferred to the Florida facility. The Beaverton institute will remain in Oregon where it is expected to continue to grow and flourish.

Key points

OHSU is honored to be among a select group of the world’s most highly-regarded institutions such as the Scripps Research Institute, the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, the Stanford Research Institute, the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies and the Max Planck Institute who have been invited by the state of Florida to construct satellite research facilities.

An OHSU satellite facility in Florida will form unique new partnerships with some of the world’s leading research organizations who have also established satellite facilities in Florida. These regional partnerships will lead to cross-country partnerships with OHSU’s Oregon operations and will benefit Oregon residents through health research advancements and economic development.

Oregonians will directly benefit from the research in this proposed facility. The institute’s studies will be aimed at protecting the population against infectious diseases such as AIDS, West Nile Virus and hepatitis. The institute will also investigate better, safer ways to vaccinate the population against disease.

Oregonians will also benefit in the form of increased access to clinical trials and research opportunities through expanded collaboration with other Florida-based institutes in close proximity. OHSU and Oregonians could also benefit in the form of additional NIH research grants created by this facility.

The facility and its research may also increase philanthropy or venture capital interest in the university which will in turn benefit Oregon residents. For example, increased philanthropy may result in new services or facilities for Oregonians

No Oregon or OHSU funds would be directly invested in the center. However, initially some OHSU staff time will be required in order to locate and recruit a director and scientists for the new institute.


 

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