A Natural Partnership

Bob and Charlee Moore's sustained passion for healthy food combined with OHSU's world-class expertise in nutrition makes for a powerful partnership. The Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition & Wellness at OHSU has the potential to change the way we think about food and health.

Bob and Charlee Moore were early converts to the idea that whole grains are essential to good nutrition – and that the typical American diet was increasingly unhealthy. Not ones to hold strong opinions without backing them up with action, Bob and Charlee founded Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods in the 1970s with a genuine stone mill and a mom-and-pop store in California.

“Once we started learning about the benefits of whole grains and the problems caused by processed foods, we wanted to do something about it. We built a business devoted to offering whole grains at a reasonable price and making them accessible to everyone,” said Bob.

While their competition pushed processed cereals, Bob’s Red Mill stuck to the whole grains Bob and Charlee believed in. Fast forward nearly 40 years and Bob’s Red Mill is a beloved company that ships whole grains all over the world from its headquarters in Milwaukie, Oregon. And now, thanks to their success, Bob and Charlee have found a new way to back up their beliefs – philanthropy.

Bob and Charlee picnic table 2
Charlee and Bob Moore, founders of Bob's Red Mill.

The couple became interested in collaborating with OHSU after learning about OHSU’s ground-breaking research exploring the developmental origins of disease. After meeting with OHSU researchers including David Barker, M.D., Ph.D., Kent Thornburg, Ph.D., and Susan Bagby, M.D., the Moores were impressed by new research showing how a mother’s eating habits during pregnancy – and even before conception – could set the stage for heart disease, obesity, cancer and other health problems for her child later on. The Moores became convinced that, if more people had access to such knowledge, we could begin to reverse some troubling health trends.

In a gesture that garnered national media attention, the Moores committed to donate $25 million to establish the Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition & Wellness at OHSU. Their goal: to halt the rampant rise in chronic illness caused by unhealthy eating and inadequate nutrition. The institute will place a special emphasis on promoting nutrition in early life – before conception, during pregnancy, and throughout infancy and childhood.

“Bob and Charlee Moore are exceptional people. They have done what many have attempted and few have accomplished – lived their lives in accordance with their values,” said OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A.

Combating high-calorie malnutrition

Rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and other health problems have increased dramatically in tandem with the rise of processed foods that are high in sugar and fat but low in nutritional value. Experts call this phenomenon “high-calorie malnutrition,” and OHSU research shows that its consequences can last for generations. To break this unhealthy chain, the Moore Institute will translate OHSU’s internationally renowned research into a powerful call to action.

It’s a rallying cry the Moores can get behind. “Charlee and I have always been inspired by challenge,” said Bob. “I can’t think of a tougher challenge than changing people’s behavior when it comes to their diets. Working with OHSU we can motivate people to make the kinds of changes that promote health.”

“Food is such a basic part of life – it’s the perfect place to start making changes in public health,” said Mark A. Richardson, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the OHSU School of Medicine. “The Moore Institute will be instrumental in helping OHSU share what we already know to help guide future generations toward healthier choices.”

Building on OHSU’s strengths

OHSU has many strong programs and facilities in all areas associated with nutrition: education and outreach, workforce training, basic and clinical research, public policy advocacy, evidence-based medicine, testing/teaching kitchens, laboratories, clinical facilities and more.

The institute’s reach will extend nationally and internationally, through networks already established by OHSU scientists. The institute will also boost collaborations across the university and with other local institutions, such as the National College of Natural Medicine and Oregon State University, where the Moores have made other significant investments in nutritional health and science programs.

Just as the healthy benefits of whole grain come from the way its individual components work together in the body, the strength of the Moore Institute will come from bringing diverse people together to work toward common goals. Through this potent blend of science, clinical care, education and advocacy, the institute has the potential to transform how we think about nutrition.