The OHSU Foundation’s Circle of Giving  is reaching out to community members with educational programs about research.  Susie Porter, Dr. Lisa Coussens, Patti Warner and Barry Menashe had a chance to catch up during one outreach gathering. It was held at the home of Sue and Barry Menashe in SW Portland. Dr. Sue Coussens explained her pioneering cancer researcher on the role of immune cells and their mediators as critical regulators of cancer development.

At the Coussens Lab researchers have found, “During the early development of cancer, many physiological processes occur in the vicinity of ‘young tumor cells’ that are similar to processes that occur during embryonic development and to healing of wounds in adult tissue, e.g., leukocyte recruitment and activation (inflammation), angiogenesis (development of new blood supply) and tissue remodeling. During tumor development however, instead of initiating a ‘healing’ response, activated leukocytes provide growth-promoting factors that typically help tumors grow. We are interested in understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate leukocyte recruitment into neoplastic tissue, and the subsequent regulation those leukocytes exert on evolving cancer cells.”

OHSU fundraisers are hoping to hold more in-home informational sessions to help build interest in the university’s outstanding research programs.

OHSU has designated two independent nonprofit foundations — the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation. The foundations exist to secure private philanthropic support to advance OHSU’s vital missions, and to invest and manage gifts responsibly to honor donors’ wishes. Each year tens of thousands of donors contribute millions of dollars in financial support to OHSU through these organizations. The foundations also oversee the efforts of hundreds of volunteers who participate in community-based fund-raising programs and events supporting OHSU.

This broad range of support places OHSU among Oregon’s top beneficiaries of private philanthropy. And it makes the OHSU Foundation, with more than $650 million in assets, one of the largest public university foundations in the Northwest.

The OHSU Foundation also administers a separate grant-making program, the Medical Research Foundation grants and awards, supporting biomedical research statewide in Oregon. On average, 10 grants of up to $40,000 each are awarded quarterly with one annual grant of $75,000. Three additional awards honor outstanding biomedical research mentors and investigators.

Both the OHSU Foundation and Doernbecher Foundation are governed by boards of trustees made up of business, civic and philanthropic leaders. Trustees are responsible for formulating long-range goals and policies while a full-time staff manage day-to-day operations.

This year OHSU will also be celebrating its 125th anniversary with events such as an exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society Museum March 14th — June 3rd 2013.