Oregon Health and Science University

This year's featured leaders illustrate medtech's ability to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing business environment.

Steve Halasey

September 1, 2008

2 Min Read
Oregon Health and Science University


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The Academic Connection

Medical devices and equipment constitute Oregon's largest bioscience subsector, employing more than 4700 people. (OHSU; Portland) is the state's only health and research university and, as such, serves as a major catalyst for the region's bioscience industry. It is an incubator of discovery, averaging one new breakthrough or innovation every 2.7 days, with more than 4100 research projects currently under way. OHSU's sponsored research income from industry rose nearly 50% in fiscal year 2008 to $10 million. That figure is up almost 250% from five years ago, reflecting steady increases in private sector partnerships to develop new medical therapies, diagnostics, and devices.

(click to enlarge)Commercialized by Oregon start-up Acute Innovations, the U-Plate rib fracture plating system was developed by OHSU researchers.

OHSU has a rich history of developing innovative medical devices. The first prosthetic heart valve was invented at OHSU. Transluminal angioplasty using multiple catheters of increasing diameter to open blocked arteries was developed by OHSU's Charles T. Dotter, MD, the father of interventional radiology. In addition, OHSU is among the very few academic health centers in America with a department of science and engineering as an integral part of its medical school.

A recent example of OHSU's commercial collaborations in the medical devices realm is the rib fracture plating system commonly known as the U-plate. Researchers at OHSU developed it as a minimally invasive surgical option for the most severe cases of broken or fractured ribs, which are typically left to heal, painfully, on their own. Acute Innovations LLC (Hillsboro, OR), a start-up company, licensed the technology from OHSU and designed and commercialized a comprehensive system of implants and instruments designed to alleviate the pain of acute rib fractures and to decrease healing time.

Another notable example is OHSU's work with the digital health group at Intel Corp., which has sponsored studies by OHSU researchers focusing on technological innovations to enhance independent living for the aging and to detect early markers of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other diseases. The group, in coordination with OHSU's Oregon Center for Aging and Technology, is developing and testing technologies to assess cognitive and motor changes. With the aim of translating their findings into health-related products, services, and personalized medicine, the researchers hope to support instrumental activities of daily living and provide automated coaching to help people live healthier lives.

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