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Thursday, January 29, 2009

What recession? OHSU is hiring

They just signed up one new hotshot scientist, at least -- in Florida:

VGTI Florida, the Florida-funded expansion of Oregon Health & Science University's highly successful Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, has announced Rafick-Pierre Sékaly, Ph.D., of the University of Montreal, will be the scientific director of the new institute. He will also co-direct the research facility along with OHSU's Jay Nelson, Ph.D. Nelson also serves as director of the VGTI at OHSU in Portland, Ore.

Dr. Sékaly currently serves as scientific director of basic research and strategic planning and director of the Laboratory of Microbiology and Immunology for the University of Montreal Hospital Centre's Research Centre. He is also scientific director for the National Laboratory of Immune Monitoring, a collaboration between the University of Montreal and MDS Pharma....

"I am truly excited about the opportunity to develop an outstanding institute for immunotherapy in Port St Lucie along side the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Medicine (TPIMS). We look forward to interacting with all the universities and institutes in the state of Florida to create a unique scientific environment to develop biotech," said Dr. Sekaly. In the next few months, Dr. Sékaly's group of more than 30 scientists will relocate to the Florida institute. Within 10 years, the facility is expected to employ at least 200 staff.

As for Portland? Hey, at least we got an aerial tram.

Comments (27)

So, it's not too soon to give this guy a six-figure bonus, is it?

Mayor Blago asks,

Who took my biotech jobs?

OHSU took my money and created a center of biotech excellence in Florida?

Dayum. They lied to me. They can't do that...Only I can do that...

so...they gonna give 'em a condo in 'so what' too?
Nothing would suprise me now!

"In its deal with Florida, OHSU has to employ 200 people within 10 years. The university also is getting $53 million from local governments to build its research center." Too many fiscal whiners in Portland. Good luck Florida?

Too many fiscal whiners in Portland.

Portland gave Kohler and Goldschmidt what they wanted. Then they flipped us the bird and set up shop in Florida.

I wonder how this helps the nurses up on Pill Hill as they are being laid off?

What are the construction cranes doing on Pill Hill. Think they had to do a traffic impact study prior to building??

Jim Newman here from OHSU.

I think a few key facts need to be pointed out here:

- The facility in Florida is entirely funded by the state of Florida. These are not Oregon dollars or “my dollars” as one poster has commented.

- If OHSU refused to accept these non-Oregon funds, Florida would certainly not build a facility in Oregon. I fail to understand the suggestions here that somehow funds or people are being shifted from Oregon to Florida. That’s simply not the case.

- OHSU’s VGTI will remain in place and it is not moving. It is a successful institute that has an excellent track record for attracting NIH research dollars.

OHSU is the Oregon medical school. Its research and enterprise opportunities belong to the people of Oregon. Its management should not be spending its time stimulating the economies of other states, regardless of who's paying for it.

I hope the Oregon Legislature laughs you out of the building when you ask for more money, Jim. See if you can get a bigger handout from your friends in Florida.

Not to mention the unfulfilled promises of thousands of jobs that would be created if the South Waterfront campuses were HEAVILY SUBSIDIZED by Oregon/MultCo/Portland taxpayers. Instead, they're laying off Portland based employees and blaming it (in part) on the increase of the tort cap and "the economy". As if healthcare spending has declined with house prices.

Lies, damned lies, and OHSU public relations.

Isn't this "outsourcing" or some variation of it?

so sorry Jim Newman;
OHSU fools us (the tax payer citizens)more than once... shame on US!
You all sold us a pig in a poke, so some us find it difficult to believe much of anything that comes from the OHSU p/r office these days.
And having had a recent experience at the hospital, I don't think much of that place either!

"OHSU VTGI Florida Proposal Fact Sheet"


One of the "Key Points" listed:

"No Oregon or OHSU funds would be directly invested in the center. However, initially some OHSU staff time will be required in order to locate and recruit a director and scientists for the new institute."

Who gets the NIH funds now? Oregon or Florida?

Will this put a dent in Oregon economic activity derived from bioscience?


What 'hiring freeze'?

It's only a hiring freeze if it's here in Oregon. "Florida put up the money and see what happens?"

If OHSU put any staff time in it, their poor insured patients paid above and beyond the competitive rates for whatever medical care they got. Gotta pay off the damn tram and support the expensive facility in Florida.

Excuse me, but isn't that extortion?

We've already been down this road when OHSU muckity-mucks lied to city fathers about moving the entire institution to Beaverton if they didn't get what they wanted from the city. The city engineer, Vic Rhodes, lied. PATI lied. The City Council put on a good show, but lied to the people of Portland as well.

I knew that there was an excellent reason for not cutting OHSU loose from the Oregon State System of Higher Education to become a 'public corporation'. It seems more obvious each day that such was a poor decision which allowed extortionists to take over our educational facility and install questionable ethics, involve themselves in dubious expansion projects, probably invest in poorly thought out programs, and bilk the local taxpayers so that high-income physicians and surgeons can preen over the presence of a totally unnecessary and exhorbitantly costly tram to carry them to their ill-conceived medical facility in the flood plain of the Willamette River.

Oh...By the way, IIRC, when OHSU became a 'public corporation' there was a requirement that OHSU build a "prudent reserve fund" for situations where the economy was not doing well...just to help maintain a much needed public health aspect of serving the general public with indigent health care services.

So...Where is that 'prudent reserve'? If it was 'required' and did not come into being, then why? And, if it did come into being, but no longer exists, then why? For both questions, who was/is responsible for that 'prudent reserve'? If it is not present when it should be, who will subpeona the responsible party and, if necessary, indict those responsible for not fulfilling the requirements of the contract; particularly before entering into highly dubious contracts to build architectual follies with public monies?

From today's Palm Beach Post online:

"The recruitment of a scientist of Dr. Sékaly's caliber is a real coup for the VGTI," said Nelson said in a statement. "He is considered one of the leading human immunologists in the world. We anticipate that his work in infectious disease and cancer will accelerate the production of therapies for the citizens of Florida, the U.S. in general, and the world as a whole."

What, not Oregon?


What I can't figure out is why a high-caliber guy like that would want to go to Palm Beach when he could be here in Portland.

Wait, I don't understand this.

According to the VGTI website,

"VGTI is the only public institution to be invited to join this elite group of research institutes."


I understand private institutions establishing satellite facilities in another state, or even another country, but I don't understand how a state institution can do so. Can someone explain?

Here's a job opening for VGTI Florida, which has probably already been filled. The contact person and contact information are (or were) at OHSU.


Helloooo,,, Newman,
Nice try but you are simply starting to smell.
VGTI was neglected by Kohler and the OHSU heirarchy which is tied to and influenced by the affluent Portland high risers.

Tell the truth.

OHSU let VGTI run out of space in Hillsboro.
Had VGTI been accomodated with additional space instead of the misadventure down to Tramsville and the SoWa sham they would very likely been able to expand here instead of Florida.

But then Portland and OHSU never were the emnerging Biotech cluster Kohler and Katz claimed when they were pushing the Tram and SoWa. The BS was wide and deep throughout that entire rigged scheme.

Were you here during all of that?

The reckless mismanagement at OHSU has not only sent VGTI expanding in Florida but has also weakend and put at risk the OGI, the Medical School and OHSU's other core missions.
Your little visits here with prepared one sided comments, without discussion, follows the previous shady operation Kohler led.
Please halt your "public relations".

Jim Newman: It [OHSU’s VGTI] is a successful institute that has an excellent track record for attracting NIH research dollars.

Would this be OHSU's "core mission" that Ben makes reference to above?

Godfry, you are certainly correct about OHSU's SoWhat "campus" being in a flood plain.

Did you also know that all of site is required to be filled with 13 feet of fill from present grade before development? Who pays, the taxpayers.

But there are a couple of more reasons for the fill. The Schnitzer site still has toxic problems-so it is less costly, easier to fill the site to cap the pollution as it sits next to the Willamette. Secondly, parking is needed under the buildings, so by raising the site two levels of parking can be created without disturbing the toxins and parking levels can be in the flood plain.

Did you also know that existing SW Moody is being moved to the west over 100 ft at taxpayer expense to give OHSU more property to their SoWhat campus? Do you think OHSU is paying for this moving cost or even for the land equivalent to five city blocks? No.

I'd like to know more about VGTI Oregon, particularly how much of its operating expenses are/were paid from state funds.

According to its mission statemement (http://www.ohsu.edu/vgti/mission.htm):

"The formation of the VGTI as an independent entity was envisioned to be a scientific and fiscal marriage between the ONPRC [Oregon National Primate Research Center] and the OHSU School of Medicine (SOM)."

And: " . . . VGTI faculty are expected to contribute to the teaching, administrative and clinical missions of the SOM. For these duties, we anticipate that all VGTI faculty will have tenured or tenure track primary appointments in the SOM as Assistant, Associate or Full Professors as well as reimbursement for a portion of their salary."

I'd also like to know who will own the patents for any vaccines and gene therapies VGTI Florida develops. Dr. Sekaly is head of one of "the world's leading HIV-vaccine development teams" according to the Palm Beach Post online article I have already referenced. If VGTI Florida develops a successful HIV-vaccine, the patent would be priceless.

I'm concerned that Oregon stands to lose much more than jobs.

Lee, thanks.

My sentence should read:

It seems more obvious each day that such was a poor decision which allowed extortionists to take over our educational facility and install questionable ethics, involve themselves in dubious expansion projects, probably invest in poorly thought out programs, and bilk the local taxpayers so that high-income physicians and surgeons can preen over the presence of a totally unnecessary and exhorbitantly costly tram to carry them to and from their ill-conceived medical facility in the toxic flood plain of the Willamette River.

I'd like to know more about VGTI Oregon, particularly how much of its operating expenses are/were paid from state funds.

Didn't you get the memo? OHSU claims they are a private entity, and can't reveal such information.

Ask them if they want to behave as a public entity in the area of limiting their liability exposure. They'll be more than happy to talk to you about that.

No, I didn't get that memo.

There may be absolutely nothing unlawful or unethical about this arrangement, but it sure smells like Enron all over again except the corporate raiders are now biotech raiders.

It appears that everyone has moved on to other topics, or back to other topics in the case of Sam Adams. If anyone is still reading this post, I want to add some final information with the hope that Willamette Week or someone will look into this matter, and also that this discussion will continue sometime, somewhere.

An online search of the Florida corporation records shows that "Oregon Health and Science University Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute Florida Corp" registered in Florida last March. The incorporator is (or was) an OHSU faculty member who is also quoted in an article about the bioresearch center which appeared in a Florida business journal (Treasure Coast Business Journal)last February.

If you read that article, you will see some of the things Florida is offering OHSU researchers, including the prospect of better schools for their children, and what Florida hopes to gain from VGTI Florida's presence, higher paying scientific and technical jobs and better schools.

What is not mentioned anywhere, but what I suspect is a factor in this, is security. Not job security so much as physical and psychological security. To remind you, some Portland area science researchers were harassed and terrorized by animal rights activists over the past few years, not just at their workplace but at their homes. Two of them wrote a book published last May, "The Animal Research War." The authors work or worked at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, which is affiliated with VGTI Oregon.

I don't know what efforts local employers or cities have made to make these researchers feel more secure, but I suspect that Florida is offering them security and peace of mind, perhaps through state of the art security and possibly a gated community or communities.

If the Florida development moves forward in spite of the economy, perhaps local bioresearchers will gravitate to Florida for better schools and more security. VGTI Florida may result in more than economic stimulus to Florida; it may result in economic losses in the Portland Metro area.

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