Strategic Plan For OGI Takes Big Step Forward

01/08/07  Portland, Ore.

Campus sale boosts school's endowment to $48 million

Oregon Health & Science University announced today it has completed the planned sale and leaseback of its OGI School of Science & Engineering campus in Hillsboro.

The sale and leaseback allow the school to add another $24 million to its endowment.

The sale, a key component in OHSU's strategy of building a multidisciplinary bioscience research and education campus at the South Waterfront, was finalized with the investment group Wakefield Capital on Dec. 22. The $44.4 million sale price was in line with OHSU projections, and allows OGI to boost its endowment to more than $48 million.

The school's goal is to secure a $60 million endowment by 2012, providing support for Ph.D. students and about 40 distinguished faculty members who will move to the Schnitzer Campus just south of Marquam Bridge upon its completion in five to seven years. In the meantime, OGI will lease back its existing campus and sublease any portions not used for research and education to area bioscience, high-tech, and other companies.

"This brings us another step closer to fully realizing the potential of merging a school of science and engineering with an academic health center," said OHSU President Joseph E. Robertson Jr., M.D., M.B.A. "Our strategy of integration is allowing OHSU to build teams that can work together to engineer a healthier world."

The strategic plan resulting in the sale was announced in February 2006 and retains the school's footprint in the Silicon Forest for the foreseeable future. Many of OGI's programs continue to provide an educational hub for the area's high-technology industry. Its 2001 merger with OHSU also is allowing OGI to serve as a bridge from high-tech to health care, something the school hopes to accelerate as it plans a move to the South Waterfront.

"OGI is educating the bioscience leaders of the future," said Edward Thompson, Ph.D., dean of the school of science and engineering. "They're a new breed of scientist-engineers who can integrate computational techniques with the life sciences--and in the process solve a broad spectrum of bioscience problems."

Thompson is quick to point out that bioscience is "much bigger than just pharmaceuticals," with a scope that encompasses the breadth of the life sciences: medical instruments; environmental monitoring; diagnostic tools and software; unobtrusive in-home or personal health monitoring devices; environmental remediation; and traditional and marine biotechnology, for example.

"With OGI's firm grounding in the high-tech sector," Thompson says, "we're also serving the innovators of today, building knowledge that will form the linchpin between Oregon's high-tech know-how and its bioscience sector."

In the leading edge of the school's transition to the South Waterfront, OGI's department of biomedical engineering moved to the Center for Health and Healing in November 2006. The move freed up considerable laboratory and office space, and the school's other departments will have consolidated by early spring in order to maximize leasable space.

To date, OHSU has designated more than 80,000 square feet for sublease. "It's space available in a context where researchers are using computation to solve human and environmental health problems every day," said Thompson, "at a site where you can not only build a company, but connect to the rich, interdisciplinary bioscience expertise across OHSU."

The offering has already generated considerable interest, according to newly hired OGI property manager Kay Casey. Among the first wave of new tenants are a venture capital firm, a pharmaceutical company, and an OHSU spinoff.

In addition to building the school's endowment, proceeds from the sale will pay for the leaseback and be used to invest in new faculty members and research. Under terms of the agreement brokered by Cushman & Wakefield Inc. in Portland, the buyer, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wakefield Capital, LLC, a Chevy Chase, Md.-based joint venture formed to invest in health care-related real estate, will lease the campus back to OHSU for seven years, with two three-year extension options.

OGI is located on a 40-acre portion of OHSU's West Campus in Hillsboro. City planners were kept apprised of progress throughout the sale, as Hillsboro conducted its own long-term planning. The remainder of the West Campus encompasses the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, the Neurological Sciences Institute, and the Oregon National Primate Research Center, none of which will be affected by the sale.

OGI was established as Oregon Graduate Center in 1963 after then-Gov. Mark O. Hatfield ordered a study on the feasibility of creating a self-contained graduate education center in the state. The Tektronix Foundation provided $100,000 to purchase the center's first buildings, into which some of the campus will now be re-consolidated. OGC's name was changed to Oregon Graduate Institute of Science & Technology in 1989, and the school merged with OHSU in 2001.

Today, it is the only school of science and engineering in the nation incorporated into an academic health center, and focuses exclusively on human and environmental health problems. Its four departments - Biomedical Engineering, Environmental and Biomolecular Systems, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, and Management in Science and Technology - have spawned seven research programs as part of a "research roadmap" that requires collaboration between engineering faculty members and clinicians, such as nanobiotechnology, microbial research and advanced biomedical computation.