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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

OHSU Asks Oregon Lawmakers For Major Cancer Research Funding

M.O. Stevens
File photo OHSU Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University, in Portland, Ore.

Officials at Oregon's largest medical center want state lawmakers to help fund a massive expansion of their cancer research facility.

Oregon Health and Science University says it needs the money so that it can meet a huge matching challenge offered by Nike chairman Phil Knight.

Everyone agrees it's a big ask: OHSU wants the state to pitch in $200 million to help land Knight's $500 million offer. Knight told the school he'd give the cash only if it raised another $500 million on its own.

The state cash would go towards research facilities where nearly 400 doctors and support staff would work on better cancer treatment and detection.

OHSU President Joe Robertson told lawmakers that the investment would pay more than one kind of dividend.

"First and foremost I would remind us all that this is about curing cancer," he said. "But we are fortunate that this does have a tremendous economic impact and these are dollars that would be tremendously well leveraged."

But the request has lots of competition at the capitol. Other universities are also asking for money to fund their projects, though none has nearly the same price tag as the OHSU request.