Collins Foundation Helps Expand Research Capacity at OGI School of Science & Engineering

11/21/01    Portland, Ore.

The Collins Foundation of Portland has given $250,000 to purchase critical laboratory instruments for education and research at Oregon Health & Science University's OGI School of Science & Engineering. The equipment, which includes five related chromatography systems used to separate substances for laboratory analysis, will advance studies of both human metabolism and environmental contamination. In addition, it will facilitate collaborations with industry and with researchers on OHSU's main campus.

The departments of Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) will share the equipment.

Twenty years ago, another Collins grant enabled OGI to purchase its first chromatography equipment. The ESE department obtained matching funds from the National Science Foundation for gas chromatography instruments. That equipment spurred the department to national leadership in the analysis of environmental contaminants and helped bring in $10 million in other funding over 20 years.

"Most of today's public and private research funding requires modern chromatography equipment," said Edward Thompson, Ph.D., OHSU vice president and dean of the OGI School of Science & Engineering. "We're thankful to Collins for making us better able to compete for research dollars. Ultimately, our research will benefit Oregon's economy, the environment and human health."

Four of the new systems use high-pressure liquid chromatography and one uses gas chromatography. Each will benefit core educational and research goals and provide added capacity for potential partnerships and collaborations.

High-pressure liquid chromatography is used to purify biomolecules for biomedical research, such as the analysis of proteins. In environmental research, gas chromatography is preferred for analyzing many types of contaminants, such as solvents and PCBs, while liquid chromatography is increasingly used for other types, such as pesticides. Liquid chromatography also will be useful in studying how toxins travel through the environment and manifest themselves in the human body.

"With a core chromatography capacity, investigators at OGI will be able to refine our understanding of many of the basic biological processes that underpin human health and public policy, because we'll be better able to purify and analyze organic and inorganic compounds," Thompson said.