A mechanical engineer well-versed in medical research and entrepreneurship has been chosen to lead the University of Oregon.
Robert E. Guldberg, widely known in the field of regenerative medicine, will become executive director of the Knight Campus next September.
The Knight Campus, announced last fall, is a $1 billion effort to rethink research, science education and innovation. It is made possible by a $500 million lead gift from Penny and Phil Knight, who earned a business degree at the UO in 1959, and supported with $50 million in state bonds.
Guldberg has been at the Georgia Institute of Technology, also known as Georgia Tech, in Atlanta since 1996. He has headed the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience since 2009.
The Knight Campus goal to quickly turn discoveries into usable societal applications, he said, fits well into how he approaches science. “As I’ve advanced in my career, I have gravitated toward developing technologies that actually make their way into patients,” Guldberg said.
“There are a lot of institutions in the country that are innovating very, very well, but they are not getting their innovations out the door effectively,” he said. “It doesn’t really make sense to start things completely from scratch, but rather to build on areas of strength that can be turned into areas of national pre-eminence and then translated into societal impact.”
Groundbreaking on the $225 million first phase of the Knight Campus is scheduled for February. The 160,000-square-foot building will open in early 2020.
Over the next decade, the Knight Campus will house more than 30 new principal researchers and their teams and will support an estimated 750 new jobs, representing an estimated $80 million in annual statewide economic gains.