http://modernizationimperative.blogspot.com/ has something interesting to say about the UW, I quote:
Over 60 years, the USA has 19 institutions which won three-plus Nobel prizes in 20 years, the UK has 4, France has 2 and Sweden and USSR 1 each. Four US institutions won 3 or more prizes in all 20 year segments: Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley and CalTech. The most successful institution in the past 20 years was MIT, with 11 prizes followed by Stanford (9), Columbia and Chicago (7). But the Western United States has recently become the world dominant region for revolutionary science, generating a new generation of elite public universities: University of Colorado at Boulder; University of Washington at Seattle; and the University of California institutions of Santa Barbara, Irvine, UCSF, and UCLA; also the Fred Hutchinson CRC in Seattle.
The University of Washington at Seattle comes joint-top of the league table for revolutionary biomedical science (with MIT) which may surprise those observers who have failed to notice the rise to international prominence of this institution . In a separate analysis of total Web of Science citations per US university, we also found that University of Washington was ranked fourth (after Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Stanford) . So the clear implication is that University of Washington at Seattle should now be considered one of the truly elite research universities of the world, and that its pre-eminence is probably focused in biomedical science.“