The OHSU philanthropy Effect

OHSU Extra, Spring 2011

The OHSU effect is an especially powerful concept in the world of philanthropy. A single gift to OHSU can make a meaningful impact in multiple mission areas, can combine with other gifts to achieve a greater goal, or can over time build momentum that creates vital new opportunities. For donors, the OHSU effect is what happens when their gift’s impact resonates far beyond expectations.

Ruth Layton and Jeff Kaye, M.D.
Ruth Layton with Jeffrey Kaye, M.D., director of the OHSU Layton Aging & Alzheimer's Disease Center

Layton Center leads the way

OHSU’s multidisciplinary center for Alzheimer’s disease research and care demonstrates how philanthropy can focus the power of the OHSU effect on a specific health challenge. 

Now celebrating its 10-year anniversary, the Layton Aging & Alzheimer’s Disease Center was established with a $3 million investment in 2001 from Rex and Ruth Layton. Inspired by the late Rex Layton’s experiences with the disease and the family’s exceptional experience at OHSU, the gift has made a tremendous impact on OHSU’s ability to help patients and their families. The Layton Center is one of only 30 National Institutes of Health-designated Alzheimer’s Disease Centers in the United States, and the only one in Oregon. 

“When the Laytons made their visionary gift, they were determined to give others reason to hope, and to help expand OHSU’s ability to extend its unique resources,” said Jeffrey Kaye, M.D., Layton Center director. “They knew that private support would enable us to retain the world-class faculty and sustain the programs that address the major health issues of our time.” 

Their gift has brought the OHSU effect to bear on patients across the state and across the nation with Alzheimer’s and related cognitive issues. Over the years the Layton Center has conducted 50 clinical trials, several of which have contributed to the approval of medications for Alzheimer’s disease treatment. More than 20,000 patients have received 196,000 assessments through the clinic. Volunteer research participants now number more than 4,000. Conducting these vital large studies is possible only with the resources and infrastructure created by private investment. 

The center is also leveraging OHSU’s strengths in biomedical engineering to develop landmark technologies for unobtrusively monitoring seniors in private residences and assisted living facilities for signs of cognitive decline, and for helping them maintain independent living for as long as possible. OHSU today is a national leader in this exciting realm of research. “Philanthropy has played a huge role in our success,” said Kaye.

Circle of Giving members
OHSU Center for Women's Health Circle of Giving members Lori Flexer, Rita Philip, Julie Dixon, Karen Hinsdale and JoAnn Albers deliberate on a grant proposal.

All together now

The OHSU Center for Women's Health Circle of Giving exemplifies the OHSU effect that occurs when like-minded individuals pool their philanthropic resources to achieve the greatest possible good.

Since 2007 a community of savvy investors, passionate in their support of women's health and committed to advancing research that addresses the specific health care needs of women, have individually contributed $5,000 a year, joining forces to create larger grants. Each spring the 33 Circle members meet to evaluate $125,000 proposals from new and established investigators. Their mission: to provide seed funds to accelerate promising research in women's health – a historically underfunded discipline – while enabling scientists to attract steady support from national funders such as the National Institutes of Health.

Together the group has raised and awarded more than $684,000 to advance research examining the impact of testosterone on both women's heart disease and ovarian cancer, investigations into the type and location of ovarian stem cells that can become cancerous, and research exploring whether the presence of stem cells in a tumor result in a higher rate of cancer recurrence. Individual members have also been inspired to further support pioneering work exploring why women's heart disease often goes undetected as well as how to prevent ovarian cancer and detect it early.

"I think every Circle member keenly feels that the power of our giving is multiplied by giving together," said Karen Hinsdale, chair of the group. "Many of us are businesswomen and very familiar with the idea of ROI. This is the best return on philanthropic investment imaginable."

Jennifer Valladeo
OHSU School of Nursing at Eastern Oregon University student Jennifer Valladeo on rural clinical rotation in Union, Oregon.

Leverage from leadership

One of the most powerful ways in which philanthropy can accelerate the OHSU effect is by creating leverage over time to combat major challenges that may otherwise seem intractable. For example, OHSU's national leadership and region-wide presence in nursing education has made the School of Nursing a compelling philanthropic partner for individuals and foundations committed to solving the nation's growing nursing shortage.

Over the past 10 years, some of the nation's best-known philanthropic foundations, private corporations and government agencies have committed more than $5 million to support a statewide initiative to address this national issue in innovative ways. The Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education (OCNE) makes it possible for more nurses to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing from OHSU without leaving their own communities. One hope is that they will choose to remain there to bolster the nursing workforce across the state, especially in rural areas.

As Oregon's health care education leader, OHSU was the clear choice to spearhead a sustainable longterm solution to the nursing shortage. Foundations such as the Meyer Memorial Trust, the Ford Family Foundation, The William Randolph Hearst Foundations, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Northwest Health Foundation and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation have backed the OHSU School of Nursing's vision for OCNE, as have Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Oregon Health Career Center and the Oregon Workforce Investment Board.

OCNE increases capacity in the state's nursing schools by delivering a shared curriculum on 13 Oregon campuses, including eight community colleges and OHSU's five regional nursing campuses. Only an institution with OHSU's reach and scope could build the relationships necessary to implement a unified curriculum so broadly. And OHSU, as the state's only educator of Ph.D.-level nursing professionals, is the critical trainer of the nursing faculty it takes to roll out such a program. Philanthropic support is what enables OHSU to put these strengths to work.

Today OCNE is widely regarded as a national model for addressing the nursing shortage through collaborative regionalized education. It is also emblematic of how philanthropic investments can impact today's challenges while creating a ripple effect that benefits future generations in important ways.


ARCS scholars
A standing ovation for student support: from left to right, 2010 ARCS Scholars Lauren Dobbs, Delia Chiu, Allison Anacker, Katy Van Hook, Jimmy Gladish, Art Riddle and Clayton Winkler

Support for Student Scholars

This fall the Portland Chapter of the ARCS Foundation, a women’s service organization dedicated to promoting American innovation in science and technology through awards to high-achieving graduate students, celebrated a significant milestone – $1 million raised since 2005, including more than $950,000 to support 64 exceptional Ph.D. students across OHSU.

“This remarkable group supports the education of tomorrow’s best biomedical research scientists,” said OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A. “Their investment reflects an understanding of the potential of scientific research to change the world.”