Introducing Sue Downs, R.N., M.B.A., M.S.N.

The Clinical Translational Research Center and the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit have a new nurse manager. Sue Downs leads the team that supports human research conducted by OHSU scientists and external clients. The role includes making sure the center has the capacity and expertise to follow research protocols for studies ranging from first human use of drugs to sleep studies. New training and mentorship programs are two of the first initiatives to maintain a pipeline of nurses with a solid foundation in research.

What sparked your interest in nursing and research?
I was committed to not becoming a nurse. My mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were all nurses and I swore I wouldn’t follow in their footsteps. But while I was in college, I took a part-time job in the children’s ward at a hospital and I just loved it. At the end of my time there, some of the nurses in the ward pulled me aside and told me I had a special way with people and advocating for patients. They were persuasive. So I went home and submitted my application to nursing school. I went to Weber State University for my RN degree, and then to Grand Canyon University for my MBA and MSN, with an emphasis in nursing leadership in health care systems. I’m from the Southwest—Arizona and Utah—but very much consider Portland my home. I’ve lived here most of my adult life.

Tell us about your research and what drew you to it?
I always want to see the data and outcomes. In every job I’ve had, I’ve wanted to know why things are done the way they are. Are we making the best decisions? In nursing, this information is so meaningful when it can improve patient care.

I’m working now on my Ph.D., with an emphasis in cognition. One of my interests is the relationship of perception to science. The other is retention in nursing. Lots of research has been conducted on why 30 percent of nurses leave the profession in the first six years, but little is known about why nurses stay.

What brought you to OHSU?
I actually held this position a number of years ago—and then went on to work as an educator and a quality control manager in hospice settings. But I love this research setting. Patients have different diagnoses and ages, come from different populations, and have different levels of wellness. Also, research is incredibly collaborative—we all come together for the patients.

Internal funding opportunities with upcoming deadlines

Translational cancer early detection pilot funding – New
The Knight Cancer Institute has created a new pilot project funding mechanism for OHSU investigators. The Cancer Early Detection and Research (CEDAR) Center Seed Grant Program aims to cultivate outstanding translational early cancer detection research, and assist in the generation of preliminary data leading to national funding. CEDAR supports technological, basic biology, or population-based research focused on early cancer detection. Funding is available for five awards of up to $120,000 over an 18 month project period. Learn more about considered focus areas, eligibility, and selection details. Proposals are due March 24, 2017 and can be submitted on OHSU’s Competitive Application Portal (CAP).

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research K12 Scholars
If you are a clinical, behavioral, health services, policy, public health, or applied junior faculty researcher interested in pursuing a career in comparative effectiveness research applied to patient-centered outcomes, you may be eligible for this mentored K12 career development program. The program provides 75% protected time for mentored research career development and includes training in patient-centered outcomes research, applied experience and training in research synthesis methods, and a significant, mentored research experience. Scholars will receive salary support plus fringe benefits, and will be appointed as an OCTRI scholar. Read the full RFA and submit all application materials via CAP by March 6, 2017.

Overseas financial assistance awards for students – Deadline extended
Competitive awards of up to $2,000 are available to support OHSU students’ overseas rotations in 2017. Students who qualify include medical, nursing, dental, pharmacy and school of public health students. Students commit at least 3-4 weeks on-site to an international experience that includes various aspects of clinical practice, public and population health, health education, and research. All students must be in good academic standing. Student proposals must demonstrate knowledge about the population with which they wish to work and include citations related to the proposed subject matter. The deadline for submitting proposals has been extended to April 1, 2017. The full RFA and application can be found on CAP.

Spring Vollum writing class starts March 22

The Vollum Writing Program is a professional science writing course open to OHSU graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty.

This class uses short lectures, class discussion, and workshop-style writing assignments to help researchers learn to write better papers and grants. Topics include:

  • The basic elements of good scientific writing style, including sentence and document structure
  • Insight into scientific conventions regarding grammar, punctuation, and usage
  • Strategies for revising
  • Dealing with writer’s block and time management
  • Best practices for writing introductions, results, discussions, and grant proposals

The class runs for four weeks, Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., beginning March 22, 2017. Four individual tutorials with the instructor are included. There are no prerequisites for this non-credit professional development course, but you should not take the class unless you have enough data to write about.

The course carries a fee of $500 per student (unless you are in a Vollum lab or part of certain graduate Ph.D. programs). Questions? Contact funding@ohsu.edu.

Access Compass to register for the Vollum Writing Class.

V Foundation cancer research funding, internal deadline March 1

The V Foundation for Cancer Research – Translational Awards provide up to $200,000 per year for three years to fund projects that intend to develop novel, translational approaches to the prevention, detection and treatment of human cancer. Translational projects should move a novel strategy from the laboratory into a human clinical trial or use specimens from a clinical trial to develop biomarkers or mechanisms. All nominated applicants must be tenure-track faculty leading a Translational Award research team.

Two applications are permitted per institution if at least one of the two nominee applicants is submitting a research project that focuses on the biological basis of cancer disparities experienced by patients from minority ethnic or racial populations in cancer causes, aggressiveness, treatment or relapse. If you are interested in applying, please submit your CV,  a 1-5 page research summary, and a letter of support by Wednesday, March 1 using the OHSU Competitive Application Portal (CAP). Two candidates selected by OHSU will have until May 2, 2017 to submit their full application to the Foundation.

For more funding opportunities, take a look at the weekly Funding Alerts .

David Huang recognized by National Academy of Engineering

David HuangOHSU Casey Eye Institute researcher David Huang, M.D., Ph.D., has been awarded the 2017 Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize by the National Academy of Engineering. The Russ Prize recognizes an outstanding bioengineering achievement in widespread use that improves the human condition in areas ranging from biomedical instrumentation and prosthetic technologies to pharmaceutical processing and diagnostic technologies.

Huang, the Peterson Professor of Ophthalmology and professor of biomedical engineering, was a member of the James Fujimoto team that invented optical coherence tomography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The National Academy of Engineering cites the team for dramatically improving the quality of life for people with diminished eyesight by leveraging creative engineering to invent imaging technology essential for preventing blindness and treating vascular and other diseases.

OCT has had a tremendous scientific, clinical, and economic impact on society. In the 25 years since its invention, OCT has become one of the most widely used technologies for imaging the human eye. Huang has contributed to the advances that make OCT an essential tool for treating blinding diseases ranging from macular degeneration to diabetic retinopathy. He has contributed to polarization-sensitive, swept-source, spectroscopic, and anterior eye OCT, as well as OCT angiography.

Ranked the 4th most influential figure in the world of ophthalmology in the Ophthalmologist PowerList 2016, Huang has 16 issued patents and 14 pending patents in the areas of OCT, mobile health testing, tissue engineering, and corneal laser surgery. He is also an inventor of laser therapeutic devices and mobile diagnostic technology, and a founder of Gobiquity Mobile Health, which makes mobile diagnostic apps for professional and home use. Huang shared the 2012 António Champalimaud Vision Award and is a recipient of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology’s Jonas Friedenwald Award and the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Senior Achievement Award. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

The $500,000 biennial Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize will be presented to Huang, James Fujimoto, Adolf Fercher, Christoph Hitzenberger, and Eric Swanson at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., at 5:30 EST on Feb. 21. The event will be live streamed.

Prep for Research Week 2017: How to write an abstract workshop, Feb. 27

Whether you’re clueless when it comes to writing an abstract, or an expert looking to refine your skills, join us for a skill development workshop about how to write and abstract in preparation for Research Week. The workshop will be led by Amanda Lund, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology.

Skill development workshop: How to write an abstract
Monday, Feb. 27
10 to 11 a.m.
Mackenzie Hall, 2201

This event is open to all researchers at OHSU and is recommended for anyone planning to submit an abstract for OHSU Research Week. No RSVP is necessary.

Questions? Contact researchweek@ohsu.edu.

OHSU researchers identify gene driving responses to brain injury

Glial transcriptional activation is downstream of axon degeneration and Draper signalling.

Glial transcriptional activation is downstream of axon degeneration and Draper signaling.

In response to brain injury, cells in the nervous system swiftly coordinate events that promote survival and repair. Glial cells—the most abundant cells in the nervous system—quickly locate the trauma site, clear damaged neurons, and recruit extra immune cells.

This cascade of glial cells’ reactive events is promoted by Draper, an engulfment receptor needed to recognize and clear cellular debris in fruit flies, roundworms, and mammals. Until recently, the pathways that mediate glia responses to injury have been poorly defined. Injury signals from damaged cells that trigger glia receptors had been presumed to drive glia reactions. But, whether and how cellular debris activated glial transcriptional responses remained mechanistically unclear.

Now, a team led by OHSU scientists has identified a gene that responds to injury signals by binding to Draper and initiates and coordinates intracellular signaling pathways. This gene, TRAF4, provides scientists with important information about the pathways that spur glial cells to recognize and clear degenerating axons. Marc Freeman, Ph.D., director and senior scientist at the Vollum Institute, and Mary Logan, Ph.D., assistant scientist and assistant professor of neurology at the Jungers Center for Neurosciences Research, led the research, which was published in Nature Communications.

The study found that Draper is required by each cell to activate response to injury. The team’s work supports a model in which axon trauma activates Draper, which in turn promotes signaling through Draper’s newly identified binding partner and activates a series of events that contributes to human disease.

Glia reaction is accompanied by the quick release of two glia subtypes—GFAP and S100β. The upregulation of these subtypes is one of the earliest detectable changes in neural tissues after brain injury. These increases are seen in neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and autism.

In addition to Freeman and Logan, the multi-institutional team included Tsai-Yi Lu, Ph.D., at Johns Hopkins University and, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Jennifer MacDonald, M.D., Ph.D., Lukas Neukomm, Ph.D., Amy Sheehan, and Rachel Bradshaw. This work was supported by NIH RO1 NS053538 to Freeman, who was also an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute during the period of this study.

FY2016 NIH numbers released

NIH recently released their annual web reports, success rates, and NIH Data Book for fiscal year 2016. In a February 3 blog post, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Michael Lauer, summarized FY2016 numbers and compared them to previous years. Here are the highlights:

NIH received 54,220 competing research project grant applications, an increase of over 3,000 applications from 2014. Roughly 45% of those were applications for R01-equivalent grants. The success rate for these applications was 19.1% compared to 18.3% in FY2015 and the average size of awards was $499,221, a historical high for both competing and non-competing awards. Though success rate and award amount levels remain far below those of 15 – 20 years ago, the last two years have seen gradual increases with total NIH funding up by over $1.27 billion from 2014.

Lauer also reported on several new activity codes in FY 2016 that supported a variety of scientific areas including pilots for Alzheimer’s research, genomic research centers, and clinical studies for mental disorders. Fourteen new projects were funded under the Phase 1 Exploratory/Developmental Grant (R61 – in lieu of the R21). Additionally, funding that support large-scale projects such as the RM1 saw a substantial increase from $4 million in 2015 to over $15 million in 2016.

Read the full post to get the full set of numbers and revisit a past Rock Talk blog post to better understand them.

Apply for the Fulbright Scholar Program by Aug. 1

The Core Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program Competition is now open. This program supports activities and projects that recognize and promote the critical relationship between educational exchange and international understanding, offering nearly 500 teaching, research, or combination teaching/research awards in over 125 countries.

Several new program models have been recently introduced to meet the changing needs of U.S. academics and professionals with more opportunities for flexible, multi-country grants. Awards are 2 to 12 months in length. A full list of opportunities can be found in the Catalog of Awards.

Eligibility: Opportunities are available for college and university faculty and administrators as well as for professionals, artists, journalists, scientists, lawyers, independent scholars and many others. Approximately 80 percent of available awards require a Ph.D. or terminal degree. Full eligibility requirements can be found here.

Timeline: Applications are due August 1, 2017 with notifications given January through June of the following year.

Limited submission funding process refresher

Faculty and departments have recently been asking “What should I do when I’m applying for a grant and I notice that only one application is accepted per institution?” To clarify what’s involved in identifying and applying for limited submission funding opportunities, the following information should help those of you who are new to the process and anyone else who may need a refresher.

What is a limited submission?
Limited submission funding opportunities are programs in which the sponsor sets a limit for the number of applications or proposals an institution can submit (typically 1 to 2). Institutional coordination is required to ensure fairness, transparency, and adherence to the sponsor’s requirements.

How are applications or proposals selected by the institution?
OHSU’s Limited Submission Program is a service of the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research to help faculty identify limited submission opportunities and to coordinate internal reviews. The review process is conducted by OHSU’s Limited Submissions Committee, composed of 10 senior faculty members, which makes recommendations to the Senior Vice President for Research regarding which applications should move forward as proposals to external sponsors. Internal applications are ranked according to criteria established by the sponsor as well as on the merit of the proposal and principal investigator.

How do I know if a funding opportunity is a limited submission?
All limited submission opportunities are posted on the OHSU Internal Funding Database and Competitive Application Portal (CAP). You can identify these opportunities in the “Internal Coordination” column when you search the database:

LS_Entry
As a general rule, it’s advised to check the eligibility criteria provided by the sponsor in the Request for Proposals or Applications (RFP or RFA) before working on a submission. This is where you’ll find the most complete information on PI requirements and whether the sponsor is limiting the number of applications OHSU may submit.

How do I submit a limited submission application for consideration?
Refer to the OHSU Internal Funding Database to determine the deadline for submitting your internal proposal. This deadline is set roughly four to eight weeks before the sponsor’s external deadline to allow time for review and for the nominated PI(s) to prepare a full proposal. Interested candidates must complete an application via CAP. This online application provides basic information for the review and selection process. You will attach the following materials to your application:

  • Curriculum vitae (CV) or Biosketch
  • 1- to 5-page summary of candidate’s research proposal– This document can be written in NIH style but should be written in a manner readable by a group of educated interdisciplinary scientists. Avoid using jargon, and assume that no reviewers are specialists in your field.
  • Letter of support/recommendation from a department head, chair, mentor, or other appropriate person. In many cases, this letter is optional, but the review committee finds letters helpful. The letter should detail your strengths and can be used in your full application, if selected to submit.

If you have any questions on the limited submission process, please email funding@ohsu.edu or call 503-494-0107.

Welcome to the Research News Blog

Welcome to the Research News Blog

OHSU Research News is your portal to information about all things research at Oregon Health & Science University. Visit often for updates on events, discoveries, and important funding information.

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