HistoryThe ONPRC was established in 1960 in its present location on the border between Beaverton and Hillsboro on NW 185th Avenue. The research and animal husbandry facilities are located on a 166-acre campus, 20 minutes west of downtown Portland. Until 1998, the ONPRC was an independent research institution performing research on a variety of nonhuman primate species. Its core facilities are supported by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), through grants awarded to ONPRC and its host institution, the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). The research projects are supported by competitively awarded grants from NIH and private foundations.

In July 1998, the ONPRC formally merged with OHSU, and in December 2003 the university began providing central services. A few areas such as legal, banking, technology transfer, and health & safety are handled entirely by OHSU, but most administrative functions are handled cooperatively between resources at the University and resources at the ONPRC level. This approach has been a significant advantage to the Center in retaining decades of experience in a responsive and dedicated local staff, centralizing and harmonizing key functions while tailoring non-duplicative service to meet unique needs that arise for an NPRC.

OHSU’s President, Joseph Robertson, M.D., and Daniel Dorsa, Ph.D., Vice President for Research, serve in an oversight capacity. All ONPRC faculty members—termed Core Scientists--have academic faculty appointments in appropriate departments at OHSU and are subject to the same promotion guidelines for their academic rank. The merger has played an important role in the increased number of graduate students at the Center, as Core Scientists have joined several training grants as mentors. Several of our new recruits have shared positions with Departments or Centers at OHSU. This type of co-recruitment and shared support serves to underscore the intent of enhancing ties between the OHSU basic science and clinical departments and the ONPRC, particularly in areas where research is more translational in nature.

The members of the Pathobiology & Immunology Division at ONPRC are all members of the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute (VGTI). The VGTI is an independent research institute at OHSU directed by Dr. Jay Nelson, and Dr. Louis Picker is the Associate Director. The VGTI research building is on the West campus, co-located with the ONPRC and highly integrated into the ONPRC in terms of research facilities, scientific activities, cores, and research interests. Another independent institute on the OHSU West Campus, the Neurological Sciences Institute, closed in June 2008, and its Scientists are now members of other departments at OHSU.

History at a Glance

Congress appropriates $2 million for primate research centers.

NIH grants allow the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon (MRF) to purchase property and begin construction of Oregon Regional Primate Research Center (ORPRC).

ORPRC opens under Director Donald Pickering, M.D.

William Montagna, Ph.D., becomes second director.

Montagna inaugurates high school apprenticeship program.

ORPRC becomes first primate center to establish outdoor breeding corrals.

Department of Reproductive Biology and Behavior (now the Division of Reproductive & Developmental Sciences) established.

Vaughn Critchlow, Ph.D., becomes third director.

Officials begin assembling virology research team in response to discovery of spontaneous AIDS-like virus in monkey colony.

Critchlow inaugurates high school teacher internship program.

Critchlow establishes Assisted Reproductive Technologies Laboratory.

Critchlow establishes Division of Neuroscience.

MRF constructs and opens the Cooley Center for Cell and Molecular Biology.

Specific pathogen-free breeding facility comes on line.

State-of-the-art Animal Services Building opens.

MRF merges with OHSU Foundation. M. Susan Smith, Ph.D., becomes fourth director. Second addition to Animal Services Building comes on line.

ORPRC merges with OHSU.

NIH funds a Specialized Cooperative Center in Infertility and Reproductive Research (SCCPIR) at ONPRC.

Third addition to Animal Services Building comes on line.

ORPRC and OHSU open Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, which houses the ORPRC virology research team. Ten innovative outdoor animal shelters come on line.

NIH designates centers as National Primate Research Centers, and ORPRC becomes ONPRC.

Nancy Haigwood, Ph.D. becomes fifth director.

ONPRC researcher Shoukhrat Mitalipov, Ph.D., successfully reprograms skin cells to become embryonic stem cells (ESCs), a significant advancement in the quest to develop stem cell therapies.

NIH awards one of four Contraceptive Development & Research Centers to ONPRC.

ONPRC scientists join one of the NIH Director's Roadmap programs, called the Oncofertility Consortium.

ONPRC celebrates it's 50th Anniversary. 

Kathleen Grant, Ph.D. becomes Head of the Division of Neuroscience. 

Dr. Mitalipov's ART-ESC group produces the first chimeric monkeys (rhesus macaques) by combining cells from two or more embryos.