OHSU Invited to Join Some of the World's Most Respected Research Institutions by Forming a Florida-Funded Infectious Disease Research Institute

01/09/08  Portland, OR

Oregon Health & Science University is one of a select group of internationally regarded institutions that have been invited to build and operate satellite research facilities entirely funded by, and based in, the state of Florida.

Oregon Health & Science University is one of a select group of internationally regarded institutions that have been invited to build and operate satellite research facilities entirely funded by, and based in, the state of Florida. The Scripps Research Institute, the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, the Stanford Research Institute and the Torrey Pines Research Institute have all received funds from Florida to build similar institutes in the state. The Max Planck Institute in Germany has decided to participate as well.

OHSU is the only public institution to be invited to join this elite group of research institutes.
Research at the new facility will focus on vaccine development. OHSU’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute in Beaverton, Ore., which served as the inspiration for the new institute, has rapidly gained national attention for its groundbreaking research in this and other areas. 
“OHSU was incredibly honored to be invited to take part in this highly collaborative research opportunity along with some of the most outstanding institutes in the world,” said Dan Dorsa, Ph.D., OHSU’s vice president for research. “Studies at the institute, conducted collaboratively with Oregon scientists, would benefit Oregon residents in the form of new treatments and breakthroughs that will help improve the health of our population. The invitation is also a nice indication of how OHSU has become nationally recognized, thanks in no small part to research expansion that occurred through the Oregon Opportunity public-private partnership.”
In order to fund the center’s startup and the recruitment of new scientists, the state of Florida has earmarked $60 million from the state’s Innovation Incentive Fund plus matching funds from Port St Lucie, St. Lucie County and developers. The fund was established by the Florida Legislature in 2006 as part of an economic development strategy.
Further contract negotiations will begin almost immediately, with the goal of finalizing all construction and funding agreements with the state and local participants in Florida. The facility will initially be housed in the Torrey Pines facility in Port St Lucie, and a dedicated facility would be built adjacent to Torrey Pines in the years to come. In addition, the City of Port St. Lucie has committed to providing $53 million for infrastructure expenditures.
No Oregon or OHSU funds will be directly invested in the center. However, initially some OHSU staff time will be required in order to locate and recruit scientists and a director for the new institute. Research at the facility would be funded by National Institutes of Health research grants and by other funding organizations. Spinoff technologies developed at the Florida institute will remain in the state of Florida. OHSU will receive revenues from the licensing of discoveries in correlation to OHSU’s collaborative role in the discovery.
Scientists in the existing OHSU vaccine facility in Beaverton study a variety of diseases that threaten human health, including AIDS, West Nile virus and monkeypox.
The new Florida research institute will feature its own newly hired, dedicated staff. Researchers currently in Oregon will remain in Oregon but will likely collaborate heavily with the new Florida group and other partners in that state.
“We expect this research venture to greatly expand OHSU and Oregon’s scientific reach,” explained Jay Nelson, Ph.D., director of the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute in Beaverton who will also co-direct the new Florida facility. “The most successful research often takes place when partnerships are formed with other institutions. Besides Torrey Pines, this new OHSU facility will be placed in close proximity to The Scripps Research Institute and future Max Planck Institute in West Palm Beach. Past experience has shown that proximity is one of the main factors in promoting these partnerships. This institute in Florida will allow for unique regional partnerships that will cross-connect with operations in Oregon and benefit us all.”
About OHSU
Oregon Health & Science University is the state’s only health and research university, and only academic health center. As Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government), OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. It serves more than 184,000 patients, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,900 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to each county in the state.