Gov. Kitzhaber Signs Legislation Moving Forward Merger Between OGI and OHSU

04/30/01    Portland, Ore.

Under Senate Bill 511, OGI and OHSU become Oregon Health & Science University

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber signed legislation today that will enable the merger of Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology and Oregon Health Sciences University to proceed as planned July 1.

Senate Bill 511 expands OHSU's mission beyond its traditional commitment to health sciences research, health sciences education and patient care -- including health care for Oregon's underserved patient population -- to include OGI's mission of research and education in such high-technology disciplines as computer science, electrical engineering and environmental science. The bill also expands OHSU's Board of Directors from seven to 10 and immediately changes OHSU's name to Oregon Health & Science University.

"This agreement between two of Oregon's leading institutions will offer countless benefits to Oregonians," said OHSU President Peter Kohler, M.D. "OGI's high-tech expertise will significantly bolster our biosciences research, providing the scientific basis for biotechnology growth in the state. It will also enable us to establish a significant presence in the field of biomedical engineering. The merger will also accelerate OGI's growth, enabling it to expand its educational programs and even better serve the area high-tech industry."

Under the merger agreement, OGI will become the OGI School of Science and Engineering at OHSU. OHSU currently is home to the Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Dentistry, as well as numerous research institutions, two hospitals and their clinics, and more than 200 community service programs.

"The merger's economic impliations alone are of great importance," said OGI President Ed Thompson, Ph.D. "As a single institution, for example, we're confident that the research funding that we bring into the Portland area will top $200 million by the end of next year. In addition, we fully expect our efforts in biomedical engineering to establish a whole new sector within Oregon's high-tech industry, and we expect to meet the advanced educational needs of twice as many people in the area high-tech industry within the next few years."

Total research funding for the combined enterprise will be approximately $185 million initially. That funding is expected to double by 2010 as OHSU expands its research into the fields of biomedical engineering and biotechnology.

In March the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust lent its support to the merger by presenting the OHS Foundation with a $4 million grant for the new school. The grant was the Murdock Trust's single largest award ever. Specifically, the grant supports the launching of a biomedical engineering program in the new school of science and engineering. This includes hiring additional faculty and launching interdisciplinary research that capitalizes on opportunities for collaboration among both OHSU's and OGI's existing investigations in biosciences, biomedical engineering, computer science, and electrical and computer engineering.

The boards of directors for both institutions -- in association with the OHS Foundation Board -- approved a merger plan last December. Enabling legislation for the merger was then submitted for legislative review. The Oregon House and Senate unanimously approved this legislation during the current legislative session.

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