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Philanthropy Seeds Innovation

When Joe Frascella, Ph.D., arrived in Oregon last year to take the helm as vice president of Legacy Research Institute (LRI), he was immediately struck by the close working relationships between research scientists and their colleagues at Legacy Health’s medical centers and clinics.

“The one thing that stood out is how well LRI does translation, taking findings from our laboratories and using them to treat our patients,” says Dr. Frascella, who joined Legacy after three decades at the National Institutes of Health.

“When you have this closeness between researchers and clinicians, that’s really where the magic happens,” he says. That’s why he wants to encourage these collaborative relationships that make LRI an incubator for new ideas and novel research. “Even a small coffee kiosk at LRI,” he says, “could foster the kinds of conversations that lead to important partnerships.”

Partnerships between researchers and trauma surgeons have already resulted in the creation of the only force-controlled sling proven to safely and effectively stabilize a traumatic pelvis injury. They also developed rib plates used to mend broken segments of the rib cage.

“Philanthropy drives these innovations,” Dr. Frascella says. Federal funding for medical research is generally conservative and limited to projects with a high probability of delivering specific results. Private donations provide researchers with more time and more latitude to explore.

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Often, the results of philanthropy lead to federal funding and additional research. “What is unique here are the very generous opportunities that our donors provide,” he says. “Philanthropy allows us to ask questions that are more innovative and that might not otherwise be funded.”

“The Legacy Research Institute is making a difference,” he says. “Our research is saving lives and transforming medical care.”

Translational Research