OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU Faculty Set Institutional Records in Research and Tech Transfer

08/21/2006

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University earned more than $184 million in contracts and grant for 2005-06, while overall research expenditures at OSU totaled almost $194 million – a record for the institution, university leaders announced today.

Licensing revenue from OSU innovations, meanwhile, also grew to an all-time high of $2.13 million, surpassing $2 million for the first time and marking an 11.6 percent increase over last year’s record total of $1.9 million. “Tech transfer” revenue has nearly doubled over the past five years.

OSU entered into a record 43 licensing agreements in the recently completed fiscal year – almost twice last year’s total of 22 – and disclosed a record high of 48 inventions. University faculty filed 24 new patent applications and saw five new patents issued, while filing for protection for four plant varieties and earning protection approval for one new plant variety.

“By nearly every measure, this was a strongly successful year for research at Oregon State University and for the many scientific partners, organizations, businesses and agencies that we work with,” said OSU President Ed Ray. “As the state’s only top-tier research university and land-grant institution, we have a singular role to play for the citizens of Oregon in addressing some of the biggest issues facing this state and confronting science. Our faculty’s performance in the labs and in the field this year showed that we are certainly up to that challenge.”

While licensing incoming grew, overall contracts and grants to the university dipped slightly, down from $208.9 million last year. The decrease, however, was almost entirely attributable to a single award last year of $24.5 million from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. That grant, which funds research through the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, supports long-term projects, but was accounted for entirely in fiscal year 2004-05.

Even with the slight decline, several colleges saw research funding increases this year – a remarkable accomplishment, in light of increased competition nationally for federal contracts and grants, which account for $135 million of OSU’s $184.4-million total:

  • The College of Health and Human Sciences grew by $4.53 million, from $7.37 million to $11.9 million. That increase was the largest of any of OSU’s colleges.
  • The College of Agricultural Sciences earned nearly $38 million in research funding, an increase of more than $2 million.
  • And the College of Forestry earned $12.8 million in grants and contracts, an increase of about $512,000 over last year.

Research projects throughout the university resulted in four dozen new invention disclosures, and an increasing number of inventions were licensed by businesses, resulting in record-revenue for OSU. Hewlett Packard, for instance, signed an agreement to commercialize the world’s first transparent transistor created by OSU Engineering Professor John Wager. The technology has enormous potential to generate a broad new array of computer-driven displays in such areas as automobile windshields, for instance, and is featured in the latest issue of PC Magazine in an article titled “The 10 Coolest Technologies You’ve Never Heard Of.”

Research headed by Professor James Carrington led to technology to “silence” certain genes in crop plants and was licensed to the Monsanto Company. The technology is expected to assist in the development of specific traits in major agricultural crops, but without many of the problems perceived to be associated with genetically modified plants. Licensing revenue for the commercial applications projected for this innovation is potentially large.

“The idea of introducing foreign proteins into crop plants has been troubling to many people. One of the appealing aspects of our work, though, is that we are not adding new proteins, but instead using very small RNA molecules that don’t have the potential to introduce toxicity or allergenicity,” said Carrington.

OSU commits significant resources to developing such innovations and supporting other research projects. That’s why the university’s continued growth in research expenditures is such a key measure of the health and vitality of the OSU research program: The $194 million in expenditures represents not only grant funding, but additional resources mobilized by the university in support of its research mission.

“Our research expenditures have been on a steady increase over the past several years, and those investments are not only paying dividends now, but preparing our faculty to be even more competitive in seeking funding and partners for future projects,” said John Cassady, OSU vice president for Research. “We’re building for long-term success, both for our university and for the people of Oregon.”