Accelerating Science - About

Accelerating Science


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The Challenge:

Cutting-edge science and discovery can be hindered by slower mechanisms for funding and barriers to inter-disciplinary cooperation. The Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact is an ambitious initiative to fast-track scientific discoveries into innovations that improve the quality of life for people in Oregon, the nation, and the world. The campus creates the intellectual infrastructure to establish Oregon as a center in applied science and engineering, making the state a place where companies can start-up, grow, and stay.

The Opportunity:

The Knight Campus is developing a hub where innovative research and discovery will thrive – driving business in Oregon. With the completion of our first building and the beginning of construction of our second building dedicated to academics — specifically Oregon’s growing Bioengineering program — Knight Campus aims to have 30 teams of scientists and researchers, accompanied by more than 400 students who will enjoy unique experiential training opportunities and play a critical role in cutting-edge research that fuels the impact cycle. 

This means the Knight Campus is not only driving groundbreaking discoveries, but preparing a new generation of innovative scientists who will define the future of the state of Oregon and beyond. The collaborative scientific research done at the Knight Campus is breaking down barriers and accelerating the advancement of science to improve the human condition and benefit the world.

Our Work:

The Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact was made possible by a $500 million lead gift from Penny and Phil Knight in 2016 and followed up with a second $500 million gift in 2021. The Knight Campus allows for transdisciplinary work in research “neighborhoods” where members of a variety of labs and research teams can meet and work together to tackle some of the biggest problems of our age. Our self-sustaining funding model accelerates research and industry leading start-up opportunities. 

This model redefines the modern research university by fostering world-changing research unfettered by traditional academic boundaries. The Knight Campus, with its bioengineering and applied science focus, encourages collaborations with researchers in materials science, molecular biology and other areas of existing strengths. Its interdisciplinary, entrepreneurial, and innovation-driven bioengineering academic program provides outstanding research opportunities focused on societal impact. Through its innovative approaches to technical training, scientific communication and entrepreneurship, the Knight Campus is rethinking the way students learn and train and helping to drive the new economy of Oregon.

Our Impact / Our Approach

The Knight Campus was specifically designed to encourage a team-based, interactive approach to research and dramatically reduce the time it takes for discoveries to enter the market, where they can give rise to new procedures, medical devices or treatments that improve the health and wellbeing of the citizens of Oregon, the nation, and the world. It combines under one roof labs and classrooms with an innovation center and cutting-edge core facilities that include a clean room, equipment for 3D printing, rapid x-ray imaging and rapid fabrication of prototypes.

The Knight Campus is enabling collaborations such as the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance, which was made possible by a generous gift from the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation. Based at Stanford University and made up of six institutions, the alliance is trailblazing new possibilities through comprehensive research involving athletes of various ages, genders, ethnicities, abilities, and disciplines. The Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance at Oregon is centered in the Knight Campus but involves investigators from across the UO who are studying peak performance — from the molecular level to the whole body — with the goal of enabling all people to achieve optimal health and well-being.

With 13 faculty labs led by Bala Ambati, Danielle Benoit, Paul Dalton, Felix Deku, Tim Gardner, Robert Guldberg, Marian Hettiaratchi, Parisa Hosseinzadeh, Gabriella Lindberg, Courosh Mehanian, Keat Ghee Ong, Calin Plesa, and Nick Willett, Knight Campus research is leading the way in biomaterials, protein engineering, biomedical artificial intelligence, medical sensors and devices, neural engineering, regenerative rehabilitation and other areas.

The Bioengineering PhD program is rapidly growing in enrollment and academics. Knight Campus offers unique opportunities for PhD students to participate in cutting-edge research and receive high-impact mentorship, and interdisciplinary, entrepreneurial, and innovation-driven training that accelerates their careers as independent applied scientists and engineers. 

The Knight Campus Graduate Internship Program is a nationally recognized applied master’s program with six different program tracks that share a focus on industry-relevant technical and professional skills. It has distinguished itself for preparing students through hands-on training, including internship experiences with extensive partnerships in industry, government, and academia.

The Knight Campus Undergraduate Minor offers students an opportunity to apply their natural sciences background toward bioengineering problems, research, and innovations. Students learn through a combination of experiential approaches, including hands-on work in bioengineering teaching labs, and have access to elective courses in innovative technologies like 3D printing, protein engineering and biomaterials. 

The Knight Campus Undergraduate Scholars program is a comprehensive research experience designed to develop the next generation of leading researchers. The program immerses a cohort of students in a full year of research in a Knight Campus-affiliated lab from January to December each year and has already graduated four cohorts. 

The next chapter of the Knight Campus’ evolution is already happening. Phase 2 is now underway with a continuation of the transformative, human-centered design of Phase 1 and an emphasis on advanced bioengineering, applied science training and new technologies. Construction begins on Building 2 in spring of 2023. Development of a new BioCharacterization/BioPrinting Facility, in coordination with the Clean Room and 3D Printing/Rapid Proto-typing Facilities in Building 1, will support the campus’ aspiration to become a leader in scalable biotechnologies.

Average amount of Graduate students enrolled in Fiscal year 2023
Sponsored research support in fiscal year 2023
faculty members


robert guldberg

“The goal of that the Knight Campus is not just to build another program, another bioengineering or applied sciences program, but to build really world-class facilities, and create a culture and programs that attract the best and brightest faculty and students. The focus is not just on excellent research, but on translating that research into societal impact.”

—Robert Guldberg
Vice President and Robert and Leona DeArmond Executive Director, Knight Campus

nick willett

“The mission of the Knight Campus is to bring impact out of the laboratory and into the world. Getting this knowledge to impact patient care is something that I am passionate about. I also care deeply about educating that next generation of biomedical engineers and life science trainees so that they can go out and create better solutions to all of the challenges that are facing us as a society.”

—Nick Willett
Associate Professor, Knight Campus

marian hettiaratchi

"I’m passionate about this work because it has great potential to improve human health. My lab is situated at the intersection of basic and applied research. Being at the Knight Campus has allowed us to form multiple collaborations to engage in work that ranges from fundamental science to clinical application.”

—Marian Hettiaratchi
Assistant Professor, Knight Campus

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