OHSU Kicks Off Statewide Biomedical Research Campaign in Medford

09/15/00    Portland, Ore.

OHSU Kicks Off Statewide Biomedical Research Campaign in Medford.

Peter Kohler, M.D., president of Oregon Health Sciences University, announced the start of a statewide biomedical research campaign today to an audience of Southern Oregon business leaders, legislators and local OHSU patients. His morning presentation at the Asante Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford covered the public health and economic benefits the region can expect from the coming increase in biomedical research.

Kohler's visit was the start of a statewide campaign heralded as The Oregon Opportunity, an initiative to accelerate and expand OHSU's biomedical research activity. OHSU will raise $300 million from private sources and will ask the state Legislature for a $200 million bond costing the state between $12 million and $15 million a year. The funds will build new state-of-the-art research facilities, bolster the region's online medical communications and help entice more world-renowned researchers to join OHSU.

"Biomedical discoveries, clinical breakthroughs and educational innovations occur at OHSU nearly every seven days," said Kohler. "This pace will only increase as national studies like the Human Genome Project near completion and fuel a new era of biomedical research." His presentation touched on research projects already benefiting OHSU patients, including:

  • A revolutionary new drug for leukemia developed by OHSU's Brian Druker, M.D.;
  • Current clinical trials that test the effectiveness of tamoxifen and the osteoporosis-preventing drug raloxifene in reducing the risk of breast cancer;
  • A clinical trial testing the drug Copaxone's ability to slow the progression of primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Former Sen. Mark O. Hatfield chairs the steering committee for The Oregon Opportunity and will also be speaking in support of the initiative. He feels that OHSU is uniquely positioned to attract new biomedical research to our region, an exciting opportunity that will benefit all Oregonians. He also points out that the university currently ranks in the top 1 percent of institutions receiving research dollars from the National Institutes of Health.

Hatfield is keenly aware of the tangible benefits such research brings. The senator is also the chairman of Funding First, an organization that seeks to quantify the social and economic value of medical research.

Kohler pointed out that as Oregon's only academic health institution, OHSU is uniquely positioned to both encourage and benefit from the coming biotech boom. "Every investment we make in biotech research will be repaid many times over in employment and economic development," he said. "As OHSU attracts more research activity, Oregonians will have increased access to the newest medical treatments and therapies, while new businesses and jobs fuel Oregon's economy." Currently, OHSU brings in more than $200 million a year from sources outside of the state and generates $2 billion in regional economic activity.

Throughout the coming months, Kohler and Hatfield are scheduled to speak before various audiences throughout the state, including groups in Bend, Coos Bay, La Grande, Newport, Pendleton and Portland.

"Oregon has a tremendous opportunity that we must take advantage of right now," said Kohler. "We want the people of Oregon to be among the first to benefit as biotechnology alters the face of medicine and brings us longer, healthier lives."

The Oregon Opportunity steering committee is chaired by Hatfield, other members from throughout the state include Steve Forrester (Astoria), Chuck Hofmann, M.D. (Baker City), Sen. Neil Bryant (R-Bend), Elizabeth McCool (Bend), William Thorndike Jr. (Medford), Jill Thorne (Pendleton), Brett Wilcox (The Dalles) and John Witty (Coos Bay). Steering committee members in the Portland area are Karen Hinsdale Berkman, Ruth Ann Dodson, J. Clayton Hering, Tom Imeson, George Passadore and Junki Yoshida.