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University of Oregon Opens Facility to Accelerate Scientific Discovery

Analysis  |  By Mandy Roth  
   December 08, 2020

Partnership with Oregon Health & Science University will tackle cancer and other complex diseases with big data.

The road between scientific labs and practical applications of the innovations developed there just became shorter with the opening of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact at the University of Oregon (UO) in Eugene.

Designed to support researchers and shorten the timeline between discovery, development, and deployment of innovations, even before officially opening, the new facility began making inroads into the world of healthcare through regional partnerships.

Last June OU and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland launched a joint center for biomedical data science, designed to tackle cancer and other complex diseases with big data. The partnership combines initiatives at the new OU campus with those at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and involves nearly two dozen researchers and their teams. The research center will develop new approaches to quickly and efficiently analyze large groupings of data, allowing researchers to “listen in” on cell development for early detection of lethal diseases, according to the OSHU website.

Additionally, UO has launched a joint center for biomedical research with Vancouver, Washington-based PeaceHealth, a nonprofit Catholic health system offering care to communities in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.

"The Knight Campus encourages collaboration among researchers from a wide variety of scientific fields and is designed to create greater interactions between them in an environment that prioritizes wellness and optimizes human performance," according to a news release.

“Operating at the intersection of science and society, the Knight Campus will serve as a biotech incubator that will push the frontiers of science and inspire and accelerate global problem solving,” said Robert Guldberg, vice president and Robert and Leona DeArmond executive director of the Knight Campus.

New York-based Ennead Architects and Portland-based Bora Architecture & Interiors designed the 160,000-square-foot building to encourage collaboration among researchers and create greater interactions between them, according to a news release.

“Our goal for the Knight Campus was the creation of a humanistic research machine—one that supports practical needs and aesthetic aspirations, but more importantly, one that inspires the people who work in it," said Todd Schliemann, Design Partner at Ennead Architects.

The building's transparent design, open spaces, and interdisciplinary "research neighborhoods" are designed to promote communication and collaboration, according to the release. In addition, the facility includes innovation labs for rent by local startup businesses.

“Our team was inspired by UO’s ambitious goal to build a facility that would elevate scientific research and speed up the impact cycle of discovery,” said John O’Toole, managing principal of Bora Architecture & Interiors.

The building was made possible by a $500 million lead gift from Penny and Phil Knight, founder of Nike.

“The Knight Campus will serve as a biotech incubator that will push the frontiers of science and inspire and accelerate global problem solving.”

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

Photo credit: Photo by Bruce Damonte courtesy of University of Oregon

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