Governor Signs 'Oregon Opportunity' for OHSU Research

08/08/01    Portland, Ore.

Gov. John Kitzhaber today signed into law a bill dubbed the "Oregon Opportunity Act," authorizing up to $200 million for investment of research facilities at Oregon Health & Science University.

"We are taking advantage of the incredible opportunity for medical advances offered by the fast-growing world of genetic research and we are putting a significant down payment on improving engineering education," Kitzhaber said as he signed Senate Bill 832 into law in the presence of 100 lawmakers, business representatives and university officials.

"OHSU is rapidly becoming a national leader in biomedical research," said university President Peter Kohler, M.D. "The passage of the Oregon Opportunity Act will serve as a platform to help the state of Oregon catch the coming biotechnology wave."

SB 832 dedicates approximately $32 million per biennium of National Tobacco Settlement funds for the construction of research labs and other facilities that will expand OHSU's genetic and biomedical research. In the past two decades, the amount of research funding at OHSU has increased tenfold. OHSU now ranks in the top 2 percent of higher education institutions receiving National Institutes of Health research awards worldwide. Through the July 1, 2001 merger of OHSU and the Oregon Graduate Institute, the university hopes to create a bigger magnet to help attract more out-of-state research grants.

The state money authorized by SB 832 will be augmented by a $300 million private OHSU fundraising campaign to build 200,000 square feet of additional state-of-the-art research space, recruit more world-class scientists and expand OHSU's missions of healing, teaching and discovery.

Next Spring, Oregon voters will have the chance to vote on a measure that could authorize bond sales that would boost the value of SB 832 to $200 million total. Otherwise, the total value of the state's investment will be $165 million.

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