A group of researchers in OHSU’s Lattal lab has discovered that targeting a specific dopamine receptor can promote the suppression of invasive memories in models of PTSD and substance abuse, with implications for treating both disorders. The findings of graduate student Antony Abraham, Kim Neve, Ph.D., and Matthew Lattal, Ph.D., appear in a paper entitled “Activation of D1/5 Dopamine Receptors: A Common Mechanism for Enhancing Extinction of Fear and Reward-Seeking Behaviors,” published in the February 10 edition of Neuropsychopharmacology.
Researchers in the Lattal lab based their experiments on the premise that PTSD and addiction can both be thought of as memory disorders wherein normal memory mechanisms get “hijacked,” resulting in very strong and intrusive memories. In the case of PTSD, a traumatic memory evokes an anxiety response when reminders are encountered; in the case of addiction, a drug memory triggered by various associations evokes cravings. Part of a treatment program for both disorders is exposure therapy, which involves exposing the patient to cues that evoke these reactions and allowing the emotional response to occur, then dissipate.
In their paper, the research team modeled this treatment in the lab with rodents by exposing them to cues previously associated with danger, or to cues previously associated with pleasure. They found that if they gave mice a drug that activates a specific class of dopamine receptors (D1/D5 receptors), they could promote learning that fearful contexts are now safe and that drug-associated contexts are no longer associated with drugs.
Scientists have long targeted dopamine receptors associated with natural rewards (positive reinforcement), but new studies show these receptors are also activated in aversive situations (fear conditioning). Still, little was known about the role dopamine plays in memory extinction (when the relation between memory and previously associated events are severed). This research shows that the drug is acting on very general memory mechanisms that are not exclusively tied to reward processes, challenging some widely held assumptions about how dopamine works in memory.
Next steps for the team are to determine where in the brain this mechanism is occurring and to map out a molecular pathway through which the drug may be acting to help identify potential pharmacological interventions.
The Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute (OTRADI) has launched the first interactive Oregon Bioscience Ecosystem and Map. The comprehensive database and searchable map showcases the breadth and diversity of Oregon’s thriving bioscience industry. The interactive map allows visitors to search bioscience companies by area of focus, company size, and location. It is intended to capture the broader bioscience ecosystem by highlighting the state’s incubators, accelerators, investors, research institutions, contract research and manufacturing organizations, in addition to relevant service providers.
“This interactive map is a powerful tool for accelerating the growth and success of Oregon’s bioscience throughout the state. It will function as a resource for companies relocating to Oregon, for investors interested in specific industry sectors, and for companies looking for partnerships or assistance as they grow.”
-Jennifer Fox, Ph.D., OTRADI’s executive director
Building on the nearly 200 unique entries, OTRADI will continue to update and evolve the map to Oregon’s bioscience sector as it continues to grow. “The ongoing involvement of partners across the state will help maximize the value of this tool and insure that is accurately represents the state’s expanding bioscience sector,” Fox added. Look for the full story in the Portland Business Journal.
In findings released February 3, an Institute of Medicine panel has deemed mitochondrial transfer therapy ethical. This has important implications for the basic research of OHSU’s Shoukhrat Mitalipov and colleagues in the Center for Embryonic and Gene Therapy, though a Congressional ban on researching this therapy in humans remains in effect.
Update: The IOM panel’s report has garnered major media interest–for example, see more here, here, here, and here.
OHSU has been invited to nominate one applicant for the Dana Foundation’s neuroimaging research program, which focuses on improving human brain and brain-immune functioning to promote health and prevent and treat disease. Funding of up to $200,000 over three years supports pilot testing by investigators, who are early in their research careers, to enable them to pursue promising, high-risk, and innovative ideas that have a direct clinical application. The pilot data are anticipated to help increase competitiveness for seeking larger-scale support from other funders.
Investigations need to be applicable to human brain or brain-immune functioning or malfunctioning. To be considered for funding, submitted proposals should focus on imaging in patients or patient tissues, and healthy volunteers using either or both:
- Physiological and structural imaging – anatomical imaging of white or gray matter and measures of physiological functioning. These proposed studies should focus on patient-oriented clinical research.
- Cellular/molecular imaging – biochemical actions of specific brain cells, or their interactions with immune cells, which have direct clinical relevance to human health and disease. These studies may involve human tissues or animal models. Applications can involve the study of cells within neural circuits, using a combination of imaging and single cell electrical recording, if the techniques have already been developed.
The internal deadline for this funding opportunity has been extended to Monday, Feb. 8, at noon. Limited submission guidelines apply.
The 2016 Marquam Hill Lecture Series continues this month with OHSU’s Martin Schreiber, M.D., presenting, “Lessons from the battlefield: How military trauma care informs civilian care in the United States.”
Marquam Hill Lecture
Thursday, Feb. 18
Collaborative Life Sciences Building
About the lecture
Head and brain trauma are two of the most common mechanisms of injury on the battlefield. Medical professionals must act quickly with the best available guidelines to treat injured war fighters. How do advances in military trauma care influence the way civilian trauma care is delivered?
Martin Schreiber, M.D., professor of surgery in the OHSU School of Medicine, has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and is a leader in the trauma community. His research and experience in military theater has saved lives and is being incorporated into trauma care at OHSU and around the country. Results of his studies have wide-reaching implications for situations we all hope to avoid, but are critical when patients are the most vulnerable.
Attend this lecture to get a behind-the-scenes perspective from a military physician and learn how Schreiber’s work is improving treatments at home for patients with serious trauma.
Lectures are free and open to the public, but seating is limited and reservations are requested. Register today.
Over the past few months, we’ve been reporting on changes to NIH grant application guidelines, many of which are meant to enhance rigor, transparency, and reproducibility of NIH-funded research. For those of you who are still uncertain about how to address rigor in your NIH applications, Research Funding and Development Services will be holding a workshop to review the new guidelines and answer any questions you may have:
Wednesday, Mar. 9
1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Mackenzie Hall 2201
In addition, the NIH Office of Extramural Research (OER) web page on rigor and reproducibility, links to a variety of resources from OER, and across NIH. One example is an NIH staff training module that provides useful content including a general policy overview on rigor and transparency, as well as updates on the changes to grant applications and review language.
Still have questions? Get in touch with RFDS at email@example.com.
President Obama is seeking $755 million in cancer research funding as part of his 2017 budget. Congress has already approved $195 million in research funding in 2016, which would bring total funding to nearly $1 billion over the next two years. These funds are meant to jump-start ongoing research as part of the Administration’s “moonshot” goal of curing cancer. A task force led by Vice President Biden and including representatives from the NIH, DHHS, DoD, FDA, and other federal agencies met for the first time on Monday, Feb. 1, to discuss the initiative and begin planning. To learn more, read NIH Director Francis Collins’ debrief from the meeting.
Does your research department subcontract with third parties for projects or programs? Are you curious about the new tracking and reporting functionality for subawards in OGA?
If so, join the Office of Proposal and Award Management’s in-house experts as they offer a tutorial and discussion on the OGA subaward inquiry function. With a focus on post-award functions, this is the next topic in the subaward series to help you make the most of sub-outs in your research departments.
Learn about accessing invoices, subawards, statuses, and original invoice documents on a regular basis. The subaward team can answer your questions on the features and uses of subaward inquiry. Enroll now for either of the dates and locations below:
Subaward tools in OGA
Wednesday, Feb. 24
12 to 1 p.m.
West Campus, VGTI seminar room
Thursday, Feb. 25
12 to 1 p.m.
Mackenzie Hall, room 2201
Enroll via Compass. Drop-ins are also welcome if space allows.
Please note: To apply what you learn in these sessions, you’ll need OGA access. Directions for obtaining access are on the OPAM website.
Get to know important rules and resources by joining RATE’s newest class, Export Controls 101: Shipping, Travel & Collaboration. While primarily designed for research administrators, this class is open to anyone who plays a part in ensuring OHSU’s research efforts proceed smoothly, and align with applicable policies and processes.
Why participate in this class? Because compromised export controls could lead to serious consequences for you as an individual, your department, and for OHSU as a whole.
OHSU Export Controls Officer Jen McCaw will facilitate case studies and walk you through top resources. In one hour, you’ll learn to flag export controls concerns, and to quickly help your group navigate the ins and outs without stalling travel, shipment of materials and equipment, or scientific collaboration.
RATE Export Controls 101: Shipping, Travel & Collaboration
Tuesday, Feb. 9
1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Center for Health & Healing 3171 (1a)
Wednesday, Mar. 2
12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
VGTI Building Seminar Room
Enroll via Compass for the date and location that’s most convenient for you. For more information, please contact Margaret Gardner.
On Jan. 28, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Affairs Mike Lauer published the first in a series of blog posts addressing recent NIH policy changes related to rigor and transparency. The Open Mike series will focus on four key areas related to reproducible research: scientific premise, rigorous experimental design, consideration of relevant biological variables, and authentication of key biological and chemical resources.
The first post examines scientific premise and why it warrants special consideration in grant review. Lauer speaks to the importance of a sound scientific premise, “the strengths and weakness of the data and previously performed work upon which the proposal is built,” citing examples, both real and hypothetical. While one of the examples illustrates the problems that can arise from failure to closely examine previous work (e.g. “ethically unjustifiable trials, wasted resources, incorrect conclusions, and unnecessary risks for trial participants”), Lauer offers little guidance on specific NIH expectations for incorporating this examination into grant applications.
Updated instructions state that as part of the Significance section of the Research Strategy, applicants must “Describe the scientific premise for the proposed project, including consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of published research or preliminary data crucial to the support of your application.” But Lauer doesn’t shed light on how extensive this description must be considering space limitations of this section nor how far back the examination of published should data go.
A lively discussion about how effective this new requirement will be at improving scientific and health outcomes followed Lauer’s posting. If you’d like to make your voices heard, weigh in here.