Angioplasty, Discovered at OHSU, Celebrates 50 Years

By Kate Geller, Knight Cardiovascular Institute

It’s one of the most common medical interventions on the planet. Each year, millions of people undergo the procedure. And it has spawned some of the most important innovations in biotechnology.

It’s angioplasty, and it all started in a small radiology suite on the 11th floor of OHSU’s Hospital 50 years ago.

The Father of Interventional Radiology

On Jan. 16, 1964, Dr. Charles T. Dotter performed the world’s first percutaneous transluminal angioplasty, a procedure in which a catheter was used to open a blocked artery with the help of a live X-ray shown on a television monitor. The procedure allowed an 83-year-old woman to keep her gangrene-infected left foot, which was nearly amputated due to a blocked artery.

Today, 50 years later, angioplasty is one of the most common procedures for opening blocked blood vessels. It is performed more than a million times each year in the United States and is used in virtually every major artery and tubular structure in the human body. More than 60 million patients worldwide have benefited from angioplasty of arteries; hundreds of millions have benefited from image-guided intervention on other organs. And all of that started on the 11th floor of the main hospital at OHSU, in a room still used today.

Dr. Dotter’s Vision

Although Dotter is credited with conceiving and performing the first angioplasty on an artery, his vision went far beyond blood vessels. He foresaw the use of imaging guidance and catheters to perform many different types of procedures on almost every organ in the body.

Learn more about OHSU’s Dotter Interventional Institute and what they are doing to advance Dr. Dotter’s vision and future developments in this exciting area of medicine.


Focusing on the Future of Health Care

By year 2050, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that over half of the people in the United States will belong to diverse communities. In states like California, Hawaii, Texas, and New Mexico, the population shift has already begun: large cities in those states are now “majority-minority” areas.

However, because of a variety and confluence of factors, students from underserved and underrepresented communities have limited access to educational opportunities, enrichment experiences, resources, and mentors in health and science careers.

Identifying and supporting outstanding diverse students with an interest in careers in health and science is an important first step toward narrowing the gaps. A critical part of OHSU’s charge as an academic medical center is to train culturally competent physicians, nurses, dentists and other healthcare professionals. Moreover, health care providers of color are more likely to work in underserved areas and to serve diverse communities.

How can you get involved?

The Center for Diversity & Inclusion(CDI) is helping to strengthen the “pipeline” of diverse health care professionals through focused and intentional outreach. We are accepting applications for summer research and clinical shadowing opportunities. Applications are due on Friday, February 7. Students selected for each program will receive a stipend for their work.

For college students: The Summer Equity Research Program offers a paid internship opportunity for undergraduate students to receive career mentoring and shadowing opportunities from OHSU faculty mentors from the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry and Graduate Studies. Students selected for the program receive a stipend for working with research faculty in a laboratory and/or clinical setting. The competitive application process draws students from colleges across the United States.

For high school students: The Ted R. Lilley Cancer Continuing Umbrella of Research Education (CURE) Project is supported by CDI and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. The program targets high school students to provide hands-on research experience and science exposure to increase participation of historically underserved and disadvantaged students in biomedical research and health-related fields.

On Friday, February 21, OHSU will also host the annual Career Conference for high school and college students who want to pursue a career in health sciences. CDI brings more than 400 students from diverse backgrounds to hear student and faculty panels on fields of study and career paths in health care and research. The conference will offer tips on admission processes and other relevant information, as well as introduces students to OHSU educational programs, faculty, facilities and resources. Click here to learn more.



Maileen Hamto is Communications Manager for the Center for Diversity & Inclusion, which leads and supports university-wide initiatives to create a culture of respect and inclusion for all people.


Alumni Miles: A lesson learned over a muffaletta

I was gifted a profound insight this past October. Over an outstanding muffaletta sandwich, shared with a very recent MD program grad in a New Orleans park, I had a chance to see the impact of OHSU’s teaching at work in a community vastly different from the Pacific Northwest.

Hearing my lunch colleague discuss the role of the southern diet on child and adult health, and the measures he was taking to change this through a school gardening program, filled me with admiration; admiration and pride, that something of the impact he was having on his New Orleans community was likely being played out in some form 35,000 times over across the nation. As we parted company, I realized that I had stumbled across a new measurement of distance – the Alumni Mile.

Stay with me on this. Regular miles describe two locations separated. Portland and New Orleans, for instance, are over 2,500 regular miles apart. Alumni Miles, however, describe two locations joined, through the individuals common to those communities, no matter how far apart in distance and culture. The impact of one OHSU alum on his or her community shrinks the distance between OHSU and that community to a negligible number. That is the magic of the Alumni Mile.

The Alumni Relations team has put in many regular miles this year, finding the pioneering spirit of OHSU alumni shrinking the distance between OHSU and communities as diverse as Klamath Falls, San Francisco and Birmingham. Within Oregon, we expanded our Specialty Speed Dating program to all four of the School of Nursing’s non-Portland campuses. Alumni and nursing professionals in Monmouth, La Grande, Klamath Falls and Ashland volunteered their time to meet with nursing students and spend a few minutes answering the questions about the specialty they had chosen for their careers. Thank you to all who helped our students through these sessions.

March saw us celebrating the national impact of OHSU-trained cardiologists at an American College of Cardiology gathering in San Francisco. In November a large number of OHSU alumni and friends joined Provost Jeanette Mladenovic at a reception in Klamath Falls to discuss OHSU’s rural campus proposal. That same month we greeted dental alumni, faculty and friends at the American Dental Association Annual Session in New Orleans, taking advantage of our new contracting mileage metric to connect us with alumni from a region many regular miles away from Portland.

Alumni Miles work for students, faculty and staff as well. In September, alumni in northern California responded generously to an institutional request to help our student and faculty recruitment efforts there. Our Help Our Students Travel (HOST) program has been particularly active this year, bringing fourth year medical students on residency interviews closer to 32 alumni nationwide who are orienting them to Birmingham, AL and many other home cities.

So what is your Alumni Mileage?  We’d love to know. Until we refine the concept of apparition you can use the magic of to tell us. And please accept our closest wishes for happiness and prosperity in the new year.


Mark Kemball and the alumni relations team are proud to count almost 35,000 dentists, nurses, physicians, researchers, technicians and other health professionals as OHSU alumni. The team strives to keep them all connected with the university, with its students and with each other.

You can also follow Mark on Twitter @mark_kemball.

Carolers share the sounds of joy

A time of giving, good-will and good cheer characterize the December holiday season.  Amplifying this spirit is its festive, seasonal song.  It is music grounded in spiritual celebration and contemplation, along with expressions of winter holiday joy.

For more than 30 years, OHSU and OHSU Doernbecher Hospitals have opened their doors to choirs and occasional instrumental music groups beginning in early December.  Nearly 20 groups perform for patients, families and staff throughout the hospitals. Many come from public and private schools, some are local entertainers, and still others visit from faith-based assemblies.  Finally, some singers have an OHSU connection. They are employees, medical staff and medical students.

The OHSU Carolers started singing in the OHSU units back in 1992.  Twenty of our community members walk the unit halls, sharing cheer and seasonal sounds. Mark Kemball, with Alumni Services, previously conducted the group.  Marti Mendenall, in our Department of Family Medicine, is the Caroler’s current director. Anne King, a Finance Director, organizes the group, and Amy Johnson, from the Legal Department, is the group’s longest participating member.

Watch the video below to meet the spirited group of OHSU carolers.

YouTube Preview Image


James Berry, M.Div., B.C.C.
Chaplain, OHSU Spiritual Services

Seven tips for spreading cheer, not chocolate, this holiday season

‘Tis the season for overindulging on treats! If you’re hoping to make it through the holidays without adding a notch onto your belt, get out of the mindset that cookies, candies, and treats are the reason for the season.

To be jolly without waking up to a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly, try these seven tips for spreading cheer and joy (instead of sugar and fat) this year:

  1. Write a heartfelt note letting the person know how much you appreciate them.
  2. Have your kids create handmade crafts that the recipient will cherish.
  3. Make a small donation in the recipient’s name to a meaningful charity.
  4. Offer to wrap gifts (or do some other needed chore) for an elderly neighbor or a friend with small children who may not have the time or energy to do it themselves.
  5. If you can’t give up the notion of delivering holiday goodies, try this recipe for Spiced Spanish Almonds instead of the usual cookies or candy. Or take it up a notch and deliver a meal to a neighbor who may not have time to cook.
  6. Is there a coworker you’ve been meaning to get to know better? Invite them to lunch to spend some quality time away from the office.
  7. Instead of an office potluck, try organizing a food drive to collect nonperishable food items for those in need (follow these easy steps from the Oregon Food Bank). Similar ideas include a toy drive or a coat drive. Your coworkers will still come together during the holidays, but with a more meaningful and helpful outcome.

If you’re looking for more ways to give back this season, check out this great calendar of volunteer opportunities in Portland. For a special and memorable day, you and your kids can deliver holiday meals to those in need or spend an afternoon helping at the food bank, then take a drive that evening to look at Christmas lights—maybe you’ll even create a new holiday tradition.

Enjoy the holidays – see you in 2014!


Tracy Severson is an outpatient clinical dietitian at OHSU. She moved to Portland from Tucson in 2010, and has worked at OHSU since 2011.

Tracy works with the OHSU Surgical Weight Reduction clinic and Cardiac Rehab program, and also provides medical nutrition therapy for General Adult Outpatient Clinics at OHSU.

OHSU’s Most Read Blog Posts of 2013

2013 was a momentous year for OHSU researchers, faculty, students and patients. From state legislation and a new Portland walk-in clinic, to the story of a baby’s life saved by technology, here’s what you may have missed; a round-up of our most read blog posts of the year:

1. No appointment necessary: New Richmond Walk-in Clinic

Open for business! We were proud to announce the opening of our new OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond Walk-in clinic, offering a number of non-emergency services to local residents – both insured and uninsured.

2. I never imagined I would be diagnosed with cancer at age 23

One of our own, Katie Wilkes, manages the Research Funding and Development Services program at OHSU. On her third day of work on the hill, Katie was also diagnosed with melanoma.

3. Our children deserve stronger protections from cancer-causing tanning devices

Head of the Knight Cancer Institute, Brian Druker led the charge in support of new Oregon legislation that would prohibit kids younger than 18 from accessing indoor tanning devices.

4. The skinny on gluten-free diets

Could a gluten-free diet help with weight loss, digestive issues or other ailments? Is it right for you and your family? OHSU Nutritionist, Tracy Severson, demystifies the popular trend of “going GF.”

5. Visualize this: Telemedicine shows physicians the whole picture

The incredible story of one Doernbecher neonatal fellow, who used telemedicine to save a baby’s life.


Jessica Columbo is OHSU’s Social Media Manager. She can be reached at You can also join the conversation on Facebook or follow OHSU on Twitter.



The First Patient: Reflections on OHSU’s Body Donation Program

 “I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to learn from the donors that which cannot be taught from a book – what it means to be human.” - OHSU Dental student

It is with tears in my eyes that I write this tribute to OHSU’s body donors and their families, whose contribution makes the first year anatomy class both an educational and deeply emotional experience.

Each year, roughly 250 OHSU medical, dental, physician assistant and radiation therapy students take a detailed anatomy class; one with a rigorous academic reputation that requires focus, attention to detail and mastery of the complexities of the human anatomical system.

But our students learn so much more than the names of the bones and muscles – our students learn about the power of sacrifice and compassion during their experience with their donor, their “first patient”. 

I recently attended the 2013 Body Donor Memorial Service, a student-organized event that gave our community an opportunity to express its gratitude and deep respect for donors to the donors’ friends and families.  Many student spoke to their personal experiences in the class, others wrote tributes.  I am amazed at the professionalism and sincerity that our students displayed.  Our future medical professionals are exceptionally empathetic and mature beyond their years.

Even more striking than the student statements was the Presentation of Remembrance, followed by an open forum for family members and friends to speak about their loved ones. Photographs of the donors were displayed, ranging from formal childhood portraits to candid moments. On the screen were images of loving fathers, strong mothers and doting grandparents. Uniformly, all of the pictures captured a bit of the donor’s personality and generosity, something that will be forever carried in not only the hearts of their families and friends, but in the medical practice of our students.

As the families and friends of the donors shared their thoughts, I was struck by the incredible trust they have in our educational system. One woman commented that her family has placed their health in the hands of OHSU numerous times, from the birth of her children to the treatment of cancer, ultimately culminating in her grandmother’s donation. Each time her family has believed that OHSU will provide the best patient care possible; it is incredibly humbling to know that her grandmother trusted that her gift would help educate the next generation of doctors, dentists, Pas and RTs.

I am inspired to know that so many are willing to donate their bodies to help teach not only about anatomy, but about the human experience. Click here for more information on the OHSU Body Donation Program.


Jackie Wirz, Ph. D., is an Assistant Professor and the Biomedical Sciences Information Specialist at the Oregon Health & Science University Library. Her research career has covered diverse topics in molecular biology and biophysics; her professional interests include data visualization, information and data management and research ethics.  Jackie believes in evolution, salted caramel buttercream and Jane Eyre.

OHSU discovery makes TIME’s Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs

OHSU researchers have been on a roll in 2013, continuing to make significant scientific discoveries that make big news, nationally and internationally. In fact, OHSU’s Shoukhrat Mitalipov just made #4 on Time magazine’s list of of Top 10 Medical breakthroughs in 2013, for his work in embryonic stem cells.

Mitalipov led a group of scientists at OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center, who announced in May that they had successfully reprogrammed human skin cells to become embryonic stem cells, capable of transforming into any other cell type in the body. It was the first time scientists had achieved this success, and the accomplishment generated thousands of stories from around the world. The discovery, published in the journal Cell, could be a major step toward stem cells someday being used to treat or cure Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries and a host of other conditions and diseases. This was the second time Dr. Mitalipov made Time‘s Top Ten list. He made the list in 2007 for his lab’s cloning of embryonic stem cells from monkeys.

Mitalipov is hardly alone at OHSU in making big science news in 2013. Dr. Louis Picker, from OHSU’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute generated international attention in September for the publication of a paper detailing his development of a vaccine candidate that completely cleared an AIDS-causing virus from the body. Picker’s vaccine worked in monkeys but has huge implications for AIDS in humans, since the viruses that cause the disease in monkeys and humans are so similar.

Another piece of big news came from OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute. Nike Co-founder Phil Knight recently pledged to donate $500 million to the Knight Cancer Institute, so long as OHSU can raise an additional $500 million by 2015. OHSU and the Knight Cancer Institute have now embarked on a two-year fundraising campaign to end cancer as we know it.

The bottom line? There’s amazing work happening at OHSU, and there’s much more to do.


Todd Murphy is a senior communications specialist with OHSU’s Strategic Communications office. He is the lead communications specialist for the OHSU Brain Institute and also communications about the work of scientists at OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center.

CEO of the Year award

By Joe Robertson, OHSU President

[Editors note: The Portland Business Journal recently named OHSU President Joe Robertson CEO of the Year across all industries. You can read the story here.]

I find individual awards like this embarrassing, in part because I’m by nature an introvert and in part because it’s so obvious to me that the real credit for OHSU’s success goes to our dedicated employees and to our supporters around the state. I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by tremendous talent throughout the organization, including an outstanding faculty and staff, strong mission leaders and an excellent executive team. This is truly a collective effort, truly a team victory for all of OHSU and all of our partners. I share this award with all of you.

This award also reflects the community’s recognition that OHSU is grappling with big challenges and embracing big opportunities.

As we enter the Golden Age of Biomedicine, there is an increasing demand for everything OHSU does – patient care, biomedical research, health professions education, and community service. But as demand rises there has been a corresponding decrease in funding available from traditional sources such as government. This has challenged us in many ways, but it has also created opportunities for us to innovate and lead, to demonstrate our value and attract new sources of funding, to find new and more effective ways to help those we serve.

OHSU is rising to the occasion, and it’s no surprise – we have an extraordinarily collaborative culture and a tenacious and relentless drive to make an impact. We believe we can and will change the landscape of health, and the community has taken notice. This recognition really belongs to all of us, and I truly believe that this is the beginning of a wave of local and national recognition for everything OHSU has to offer.

Stay tuned. The best is yet to come.

Gratitude over gluttony

Do you spend Thanksgiving morning looking forward to the food, only to spend Thanksgiving evening regretting how much you ate? If you’re like most people, this holiday is all about the meal (okay, and maybe a little football too!).

This year, I’m trying a new tactic. I’m spending Thanksgiving thinking, really thinking, about how grateful I am—grateful for my health, for having delicious and nutritious food available to me, for the knowledge and ability to make healthy choices, for having loved ones to share it with, and for this wonderful job that allows me to share it all with you and hopefully make a small difference in the choices you make.

Practice Mindful Eating

In order to maintain this attitude of gratitude when staring down the bird, I’ve begun practicing mindful eating. Mindful eating arose from Buddhist teachings and involves using all of the senses to eat. For more tips on eating mindfully, check out this handy chart.

Try these other tips to ensure you eat more slowly and avoid the overstuffed post-meal stupor:

  • Have a light meal 3-4 hours before Thanksgiving dinner so you’re not famished once the meal is served.
  • Use your non-dominant hand to eat, which slows you down and, when snacking, can reduce your overall intake by 30%.
  • Put your fork down between bites, while you chew.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before the meal and take sips between bites.

This is arguably the most memorable meal of the year—why not spend it truly focusing on the flavors and texture of the foods instead of seeing how quickly you can reach for seconds?

Think about the traditions and family members that have led to each dish finding its way to your table. Think about how the food is nourishing your body. Eat until you are comfortably full, then stop. You can always have leftovers for lunch the next day. And throughout it all, be grateful for this day that brings together family and friends over one delicious meal.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tracy Severson is an outpatient clinical dietitian at OHSU. She moved to Portland from Tucson in 2010, and has worked at OHSU since 2011.

Tracy works with the OHSU Surgical Weight Reduction clinic and Cardiac Rehab program, and also provides medical nutrition therapy for General Adult Outpatient Clinics at OHSU.


OHSU Health Fair at Pioneer Square.

Why 96,000 Square Miles?

President Robertson is fond of saying that OHSU has a 96,000 square mile campus, serving Oregonians “from Enterprise to Coos Bay, from Portland to Klamath Falls.”

This blog aims to highlight that breadth. 96,000 Square Miles (96K for short) will focus on the people of OHSU, the Oregonians we serve and the ripple effect of our work in Oregon and beyond.

Read more

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