Research Communications

Ohio University named state “center of excellence” for health and wellness 

ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 19, 2010) — Gov. Ted Strickland announced today that Ohio University has been named a Center of Excellence for Health and Wellness. The designation recognizes the institution’s state and national reputation for research in diabetes, cancer and biosciences, its commitment to rural health care and its track record in generating revenue and jobs through the development of drugs and biotechnology start-up firms.

The center includes more than 100 Ohio University faculty and staff members who conduct research on translational biosciences and health and wellness issues, create new medical technologies and biotechnology start-up companies, provide service to underserved populations in rural Appalachian Ohio and develop bench-to-bedside approaches to health care. The center’s programs contribute to economic development, education, communication and program/policy development at the regional, state, national and international levels.

“This Center of Excellence designation recognizes the outstanding work of our faculty and staff in the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health and Human Services, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Russ College of Engineering and Technology and Edison Biotechnology Institute,” said Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis. “Their research and scholarly activity is coupled with excellent teaching and service to our region. We thank Governor Strickland, Chancellor Fingerhut and the Ohio Board of Regents for this Center of Excellence designation and pledge our commitment to continued excellence, innovation and service.”

Ohio University is one of 12 public four-year institutions and one medical college included in the state Centers of Excellence for Health and Wellness, according to the governor’s announcement today. In October, the state named Ohio University a Center of Excellence for Energy and the Environment in recognition of the institution’s state and national reputation for energy and pollution research, as well as its potential to create jobs in the field.

“The naming of our second University System of Ohio Center of Excellence is a testament to the accomplishments of our faculty and staff and their dedication to improving lives in all facets of health and wellness,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit. “Our designation as a Center of Excellence in these areas will draw greater attention to the quality of our health-related academic programs and inspire us to find promising new avenues of collaboration across the institution.”

In the area of Health and Wellness, research has resulted in 62 patent applications, 29 patents and $30 million in royalty income for research licenses. Ohio University’s achievements include:

•    The university has received $30 million in royalty income from a license to the Pfizer corporation for Somavert, a drug that treats the growth hormone disorder acromegaly. The drug was developed from a research discovery by Professor John Kopchick in the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Edison Biotechnology Institute.

•    Ohio University has been the top public college or university in the state of Ohio for revenue generated from its research licenses in the past several years. Forbes magazine ranked Ohio University 4th in the country for the amount of license revenue generated in relation to research funding. The university reported $6.9 million in royalty income in fiscal year 2009 and is on track to top $8 million in fiscal year 2010.

•    Ohio University has generated several successful biotechnology companies from its research. Due in part to technology developed by former university researcher Len Kohn, Diagnostic Hybrids, an international biomedical technology company based in Athens, doubled its revenues and almost tripled its workforce in four years. The Quidel Corporation purchased the company in early 2010, and Ohio University is slated to receive $35-$41 million from the sale. In addition, three start-up biomedical companies—Interthyr, DiAthegen and Promiliad—based on Ohio University faculty research are in development.

•    The university delivers health services and education in community settings to more than 180,000 people per year throughout a 21-county region.

“Ohio University’s strategy to support faculty research and entrepreneurship has had a significant, direct impact on the region, state and the broader public good,” said Rathindra Bose, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate College.

Ohio University has several major new initiatives underway that support the Center of Excellence for Health and Wellness. In January, the university opened the Academic Research Center, an 87,000-square-foot facility that supports teaching and interdisciplinary research in the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Russ College of Engineering and Technology in order to create new technologies, diagnostics, therapeutics and treatments.

In addition, Ohio University is in the process of creating the Academic Health Center, which will unite affiliated faculty representing clinical, academic and research areas of health from the College of Osteopathic Medicine, a College of Health Sciences and Professions that will result from the academic restructuring now underway, and other academic units. The center will work to coordinate the overall health care delivery within the university, align efforts with area and community health providers and serve as the nexus under which health- and bioscience-related research efforts will be coordinated.

All public universities were required to participate in the Centers of Excellence review process as part of the state of Ohio’s strategic plan for the University System of Ohio, which aims to raise the national profile of its higher education institutions, prioritize resources and better meet student needs. The Ohio Board of Regents evaluated the proposals based on economic impact, benchmarking, the presence of a viable development plan and sufficiency of resources.

Ohio University’s final proposal to the state identified three centers of excellence in the areas of energy and the environment, health and wellness and the Scripps College of Communication.

The governor’s office will continue to release details about other centers of excellence designations.

Contacts: Andrea Gibson, director of research communications, (740) 597-2166, gibsona@ohio.edu; Renea Morris, executive director of communications and marketing, (740) 593-2200, morrisr@ohio.edu.