Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) is a public university in Oregon with a main campus, including two hospitals, in Portland and a smaller campus in Hillsboro. It was formed in 1974 as the University of Oregon Health Sciences Center, combining state dentistry, medicine, and nursing programs into a single center.
It was renamed Oregon Health Sciences University in 1981 and took its current name in 2001, as part of a merger with the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology (OGI), in Hillsboro. In addition, the university has several partnership programs including a joint PharmD Pharmacy program with Oregon State University.
The Willamette University School of Medicine, OHSU's earliest predecessor, was founded in the 1860s in Salem, and was relocated to Portland in the 1870s. In 1915, Willamette University and the University of Oregon merged their medical programs to form the University of Oregon Medical School, and in 1919 the school moved to its present location on Marquam Hill in Southwest Portland. The Oregon-Washington Railroad and Navigation Company donated 20 acres (8.1 ha) and C.S. "Sam" Jackson, publisher of the now-defunct Oregon Journal donated the remaining 88 acres (36 ha) to the school two years prior to the move after the property had been deemed unsuitable for the construction of a railroad yard.
Over the next forty years, the school diversified its educational offerings to include nursing and dental programs, and expanded its operation in connection with medical facilities built during this time on Marquam Hill, including the Multnomah County Hospital, the Doernbecher Memorial Hospital for Children, and an outpatient clinic.
In 1955, Oregon state Senator Mark Hatfield co-sponsored a bill to transform the medical school into a teaching hospital, and in 1974 the State of Oregon merged the institutions located on Marquam Hill into the University Hospital independent of the University of Oregon. Hatfield's continued support of medical research in Oregon in general and the hospital in particular throughout his political career and later as an OHSU Board Member was recognized by the institution in 1998 with the dedication of the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center and the creation of the Hatfield information wall on permanent display in the lobby of the main hospital. In 2008, Governor Kulongoski released an executive order designating the Mark O. Hatfield Chair of the OHSU Board of Directors to commemorate Hatfield's commitment to the institution.
On October 29, 2008, OHSU announced its largest philanthropic gift to date: a $100 million gift from Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny Knight. The gift went to the OHSU Cancer Institute, renaming it the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.
In 2001, OHSU purchased property in what is now known as the South Waterfront neighborhood with intentions to expand its facilities there. After the purchase, OHSU began developing plans with the Portland Office of Transportation to connect this location to its Marquam Hill facilities by way of an aerial tram. Before construction of the tram began in 2005, the project was criticized by residents in the neighborhoods located directly below the projected tram route who believed its construction would result in an invasion of privacy and lower property values. The group No Tram to OHSU argued that OHSU had not sufficiently justified the benefits of the tram, that the tram would not alleviate traffic congestion on Marquam Hill as OHSU claimed, and that the project inappropriately made use of public right of way for private purposes. During the construction phase, the project came under additional public scrutiny amid rising construction and operation costs.
In 2006, the animal rights group PETA incited some controversy over OHSU research involving sheep. The research, which is being conducted in conjunction with Oregon State University is designed to understand the biological mechanisms involved in sexual partner preference. These experiments are being funded through public grants through the year 2008.
The main campus, located on Marquam Hill (colloquially known as "Pill Hill") in the southwest neighborhood of Homestead, is home to the university's medical school as well as two associated hospitals. The Oregon Health & Science University Hospital is a Level I trauma center and general hospital; Doernbecher Children's Hospital is a children's hospital which specializes in pediatric medicine and care of children with long-term illness. The university maintains a number of outpatient primary care facilities including the Physician's Pavilion at the Marquam Hill campus as well as throughout the Portland metropolitan area.
A third hospital, the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center is located next to the main OHSU campus; this hospital is run by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and is outside the auspices of OHSU. A 1992 pedestrian bridge connecting OHSU Hospital and the VA Medical Center is the longest suspended pedestrian skybridge in North America, with a length of 660 feet (200 m).
Additionally, the Portland Shriners Hospital for Children is located on the OHSU campus. The University also has a campus in Hillsboro, at the site of the former OGI. This campus specializes in graduate-level science and engineering education, and is located in the heart of Oregon's Silicon Forest. Since 1998, the university has controlled the Oregon National Primate Research Center, located adjacent to OGI in Hillsboro.
With the Marquam Hill campus running out of room for expansion, beginning in 2003 OHSU announced plans to expand into the South Waterfront District, formerly known as the North Macadam District. The expansion area is along the Willamette River in the South Portland neighborhood to the east of Marquam Hill and south of the city center. The newly-constructed Center for Health & Healing earned LEED Platinum certification in February 2007, becoming the largest health care center in the U.S. to achieve that status. As existing surface streets were deemed insufficient to connect the two campuses, the new Portland Aerial Tram was built as the primary link between them and opened December 1, 2006. Controversy surrounded the costs of the tram, which nearly quadrupled from initial estimates. Construction of the tram was funded largely by OHSU ($40 million, 70%), with contributions from the city of Portland ($8.5 million, 15%) and developers and landowners in the South Portland neighborhood.
On January 8, 2008, OHSU announced that it will establish a research institute at the Florida Center for Innovation at Tradition in the Tradition community in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The institute eventually will employ 200 workers. Institute scientists will study infectious diseases of the elderly, AIDS and other infectious diseases and viruses. OHSU will work out of the adjacent Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies until its own center is completed. A $117.9 million financial incentive package from the state of Florida secured OHSU’s commitment.
The OHSU School of Medicine confers a variety of degrees, including Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Science, Master of Physician Assistant Studies, and Master of Public Health. In 2013, the US News and World Report ranked OHSU amongst the top medical schools in the country, placing the school 3rd overall in Primary Care Rankings and 31st in Research Rankings. In addition, the publication ranked the school 2nd in Family Medicine and 5th in Rural Medicine specialties. As one of only two medical schools in Oregon, OHSU is committed to meeting the health care needs of the state with typically 70% of the students from in-state. Admissions is highly competitive, with the school receiving over 4,500 applications and interviewing approximately 550 applicants for 115 seats. The average GPA of the entering class is 3.63 with a median MCAT score of 31. In addition, the Physician Assistant program was most recently ranked 6th by U.S. News & World Report.
The School of Nursing at OHSU offers nursing programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. The graduate nursing program was most recently ranked 7th overall in the nation by the US News and World Report and 5th in the gerontology/geriatric specialty.
OHSU's School of Dentistry was merged into the university in 1945. Accredited through the Commission on Dental Accreditation, the school has departments in endodontics, orthodontics, pathology and radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, periodontics, and pediatric dentistry, among others. The D.M.D. program admits 75 students each year. A new building that will house the School of Dentistry is under construction at the South Waterfront campus, expected to open in 2014.