Nike co-founder and chairman Phil Knight is donating $500 million to cancer research after Oregon Health & Science University met his earlier challenge to raise the same amount, the university has announced.


“These last 22 months have shown what is possible when people of vision focus on a single goal,” Knight said in a statement.

Together, the $1 billion from Knight and OHSU will be used to create the first large-scale program to overhaul early detection of lethal cancers and will help fast-track recruitment of 250 to 300 scientists to launch such an initiative. That includes bringing on about 25 of the world’s top researchers, OHSU said.

“While cancer treatment has evolved to become more precise and less toxic, the tests and tools used for cancer detection have not changed in decades,”said Brian Druker, a doctor director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, in a statement. “Without better, earlier detection, and a full understanding of cancer’s origins in the body, the promise of precision cancer medicine cannot be realized.”

By detecting cancer earlier and more precisely, doctors hope they will be able to unlock better cures to attack the disease and improve survival rates. Earlier detection can also lower overall costs of treatment, as that’s when the malignancy is most curable with the fewest side effects.

More than $20 million in donations for the cause flooded in within the past few weeks, helping OHSU meet its goal. The largest gifts over the past two years came from the state of Oregon, which invested $200 million, and Columbia Sportswear Chairman Gert Boyle, who donated $100 million.