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'Lung, breast, colon, skin and brain.'
The Knight Cancer Research Center opened officially Friday Sept 7 with a ribbon cutting attended by top brass from OHSU and Democratic leaders from Salem.
At a morning ribbon cutting ceremony, donors, OHSU staff and cancer survivors sat in the sun while a dais full of stakeholders who had shepherded the project from inception gave speeches. Each stressed the collaborative nature of the fundraising, design, construction of the building, and of the scientific work that is expected to take place there on early detection of cancer.
Governor Kate Brown said the space was "built for dreaming" and said that her mother, sister and sister-in-law had all had breast cancer in the last two years, and another friend had another kind of cancer.
OHSU President Danny Jacobs called it a "glorious building for a glorious purpose."
Brian Druker, M.D., director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, said "We pledge to use this facility to end cancer as we know it, and we will be reminded of our pledge each day…" He is world renowned for leading the team that developed the drug Gleevec which has proven effective against multiple forms of cancer including pediatric CML and gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST).
(A patient currently receiving Gleevac treatment, who credidted Druker with saving his life, told the Tribune that Gleevac costs $18,000 a month.)
He said that when he went to the Oregon legislature asking for $200 million in bonds to help match Phil and Penny Knight's $500 million, he promised to deliver on budget and on time, by July 2018. He praised Columbia Sportswear icon Gert Boyle for her $100 million individual donation.
Senate President Peter Courtney provided the comic relief, lightly roasting Druker and Jacobs for not giving shout-outs to their wives. He then became serious and said the Oregon taxpayer was paying $200 million toward the project. He reeled off the first names of cancer patients he had met while wandering OHSU. Then he named their types of cancer: "Lung, breast, colon, skin and brain."
He added, "Cancer, it's all over," meaning ubiquitous rather then finished, and pointed to the vehicles on the I-5 freeway two hundred yards away and imagined drivers not knowing they had it.
The opening came five years after Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, issued a $1 billion fundraising challenge to OHSU which was successfully completed in June 2015, after 22 months. They were not present on Friday. The Oregon State Legislature provided $160 million of the total $190 million in funding for the seven-floor facility, with the remaining $30 million coming from the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.
Community Open House
The public is invited to tour the new building during an open house event Saturday, Sept. 8, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. More details about the event can be found on the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Facebook event page.
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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