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Oregon Health & Science University meets Nike co-founder's cancer research challenge

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PORTLAND, Oregon — Oregon Health & Science University officials said Thursday they have met the $500 million fundraising challenge issued by Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny.

The Knights in 2013 offered to donate $500 million toward cancer research at OHSU if the Portland school could raise an equal amount by Feb. 4, 2016.

It didn't take nearly that much time.

"Penny and I have total confidence in Brian Druker and the entire OHSU Knight Cancer Institute team to put a stop to a disease that touches each of our lives," Phil Knight said in a statement. "These last 22 months have shown what is possible when people of vision focus on a single goal. We are more convinced than ever that cancer will meet its match at OHSU, and we are proud to play a role in this history in the making."

Druker, a high-profile researcher who developed the cancer drug Gleevec, plans to recruit about 25 top scientists to conduct groundbreaking research into the early detection of cancer, which is known to improve survival rates.

The scientists, and the researchers they hire, will work in two buildings planned for Portland's South Waterfront, located 10 miles east of Nike's world headquarters.

"Today too many patients die or have to suffer through debilitating treatments because their disease is caught too late," Druker said. "Too few physicians and scientists are focused on this problem in a meaningful way and we are committed to filling that gap."

The university received more than 10,000 donations; they arrived from every state and five countries.

The largest gift was from the Oregon Legislature, which last year approved $200 million in bonds. Gert Boyle from Portland-based Columbia Sportswear made the largest donation from an individual — $100 million.

"The support we have received to achieve our ambitious goal, putting an end to cancer as we know it, has been nothing short of stunning," OHSU President Joe Robertson said.

This is the not the Knights' first major donation to OHSU. They gave $100 million to support Druker's work in 2008.

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