New eIRB system launches Aug. 5

IRB go liveThe launch of the new and improved eIRB system is right around the corner! The scheduled go live is set for Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. The new eIRB will help us support the rapidly growing research community at OHSU and maintain ahigh standards of compliance as a world class research institution.

Starting Aug. 5, the new eIRB will open for new submissions only. At this time, all current studies will remain in the “old” system. This will allow time for us to ensure a smooth migration of a very large amount of data. Keep your eyes open for announcements on the schedule for full data migration. We will provide as much advance notice as possible for any needed downtime.

Please note that there is currently no scheduled down time for the system to go live on Aug. 5.

Drop-in training sessions will be available in the Lamfrom Biomedical Research Building, room 381, and the Medical Research Building, room 310. Please see the IRB Education site for a schedule of date and times.

Seminar: Model of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, Aug. 3 & 4

If you’re interested in the epidemiological model of HIV/AIDS, this seminar will give you Bershteyn_A_0insight into innovations currently being developed. The seminar will discuss layering detail using individual-based modeling — a strategy to combine HIV biology, behavior, and care-seeking in a unified epidemiological model of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

This event will be led by Anna Bershteyn, Ph.D., senior research manager and associate principal investigator at the Institute for Disease Modeling based in Bellevue, Wash.

Monday, Aug. 3
11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
OHSU West Campus, 1st floor seminar room
Hosted by ONPRC/VGTI


Tuesday, Aug. 4
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
School of Nursing, room 122
Hosted by the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health
Lunch will be provided at this event

These seminars are open to the OHSU community. No admission fee or registration is required for either event. For more information, please contact Cara Cooper at


NIMHD seeks input on training in health disparities science

nimhdThe diversity of the U.S. population presents great opportunity but also great challenges. Many populations in America – whether defined by race, ethnicity, immigrant status, disability, sex, gender, or geography – experience higher rates of certain diseases and more deaths and suffering from them compared with the general population. The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities leads scientific research to improve the health of these underserved populations.

To that end, NIMHD is working to develop the next generation of health disparities researchers and is seeking input on how to advance and strengthen predoctoral and postdoctoral interdisciplinary training and mentoring programs in health disparities science.

NIMHD invites comments that include, but are not limited, to:

  • Interdisciplinary training, mentorship, and education on methods relevant to health disparities science, including genetics, epidemiology, population science, systems science, health services research, social and behavioral health sciences, public health, environmental science, and other related biological science disciplines for predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows
  • Research training and mentoring on the social determinants of health, and population-based interventions to improve health and reduce or eliminate health disparities
  • Training in innovative research methods and statistical analyses for complex, multifactorial research inquiry relevant to health disparities
  • Graduate curriculum development designed to foster interdisciplinary thinking and research synergy
  • Integrated training and mentoring among scientific disciplines across the translational research continuum
  • Best practices for establishing partnerships and collaborations with researchers, clinicians, public health agencies, communities, institutions and other stakeholders to improve understanding of health disparities and to translate research findings into policy and practice
  • Recruitment and retention strategies to encourage participation of graduate students from diverse, underrepresented backgrounds

Responses will be accepted through Aug. 24, 2015, and must be submitted via email to

OCTRI Biomedical Innovation Program funding Q&A session, Aug. 11

Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute will be holding an informational Q&A session for the Biomedical Innovation Program Award, which is aimed at investigators who are thinking about submitting a letter of intent (due Sept. 9).

Tuesday, Aug. 11
11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Mackenzie Hall, room 3198

David Ellison, M.D.,  professor of medicine and associate director of OCTRI, will present.  A light lunch will be provided.

The focus of OCTRI’s Biomedical Innovation Program (BIP) is bench-to-bedside device, diagnostic, and software development. Formed in partnership with Technology Transfer and Business Development (TTBD) in 2012, the BIP has funded a total of 12 projects, led by a diverse group of principal investigators, including clinicians, scientists, and bioengineers. Several of these projects have achieved proof of concept as a result of BIP funding and are being actively marketed by TTBD for licensing agreements with biomedical corporations. Others have formed the basis for start-up companies. The BIP’s objective is to improve human health by moving innovative technologies from academia to the marketplace.

The current RFA can be viewed and download here.

Biomedical Innovation Program highlights

  • Up to $40,000 in grant funding
  • Project management
  • Mentoring from OHSU faculty and staff, regional business partners, BIP review committee members

Questions? Please contact Jonathan Jubera at

For more information about OCTRI awards and the Biomedical Information Program, please visit the OCTRI Funding Opportunities website.


New funding opportunities supporting start-up ventures

VentureWell_logo_w_tag_LARGE-1-300x77Students: Do you have an idea for an invention or business but don’t know how to get started? Faculty: do you have innovative ideas about training students in the arts of entrepreneurship? A new resource is now available: OHSU recently became a member of VentureWell (formerly NCIIA), a higher education network that helps launch new ventures of inventors through funding, mentorship, and curriculum development. OHSU’s membership means that our students and faculty can apply for their funding opportunities, as well as have access to other resources.

VentureWell’s focus is on cultivating the skills and creativity of student inventors and bringing their ideas to market. The network has given roughly $7.5 million in grants to more than 500 student teams who then went on to raise more than $620 million to launch new businesses. More than half of the resulting start-up ventures are still in business and operating in over 50 countries. They also support faculty in creating courses and programs to help students become inventors and entrepreneurs.

Funding Opportunities:

Graduate Students – VentureWell’s E-Team Program is an integrated program of funding, training, coaching, and investment. The program supports the development of technology-based inventions and innovations that have a positive benefit to society and/or the environment. Examples include biomedical devices, health care solutions, and/or global health-based technologies. Each team has the opportunity to receive $75,000 in funding in three stages:


E-Teams must have at least two active students for the duration of the proposed grant period as well as a faculty advisor to serve as Principal Investigator. Further details on eligibility can be found here. Application deadline for the Fall 2015 E-Team Program cycle is October 7. Please contact Andrew Watson, Director of Technology Transfer within OHSU’s Technology Transfer & Business Development group if you wish to apply.

– VentureWell also works to support these student inventors by working with faculty on curriculum development. There are two types of faculty grants:

Course & Program grants support courses designed to foster innovation and entrepreneurship that lead to the creation and support of E-Teams.  Focus areas include:

  • General (technology-based) entrepreneurship
  • New materials/clean tech/green energy
  • Biomedical and healthcare
  • Information technology

Sustainable Vision grants are similar to Course & Program grants with the key difference being that SV proposals must lead to the development of technology innovations that address poverty alleviation and basic human needs such as water, sanitation, and healthcare. Learn more here about faculty grants including previously funded projects.

VentureWell also supports the Xcelerator training program which provides training for creators and entrepreneurs on how to  address the complexities of implementation in the developing world.

VentureWell is supported by major foundations, large business and government agencies including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Intel, and the National Science Foundation.

OCTRI seeks investigators with clinical trials to pilot recruitment using MyChart

Click the image to enlarge and download the flier.

Click the image to enlarge and download the flier.

It’s often a challenge to recruit the right subjects for clinical trials–and the right number of subjects.  An approach adopted by other academic health centers is to use the patient portal MyChart. Using MyChart has been shown to increase rates of study enrollment by up to three times and do so at one-fifth the cost, compared with mailings and phone calls to subjects. Currently, more than 130,000 MyChart accounts are active through OHSU.

To determine the feasibility of using MyChart as a recruitment tool here, the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute is conducting a study of its own. OCTRI is looking for two or three clinical studies that would be suitable as pilot projects for MyChart-enabled recruitment. A clinical informatics team will work with each researcher to glean an understanding of how MyChart can be used to increase enrollment.

Eligible studies should be recruiting before Sept. 2, 2015, and meet other criteria outlined in the the flier embedded in this post. Questions? Contact Tim Burdick, chief clinical research informatics officer.

OHSU researchers identify structural changes in the cannabinoid receptor, yielding new insights into alternate GPCR signaling states

Jon Fay and David Farrens

Jon Fay and David Farrens

If you’re a vertebrate animal, you should be interested in new findings from the Farrens lab. All vertebrates use G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) to detect a variety of different stimuli. Upon binding their target molecules, these membrane proteins undergo structural changes that induce internal signal transduction cascades and alter cellular responses. Because GPCRs are involved in so many signaling systems and diseases, they are a common drug target in pharmacology.

Recently, two exciting new areas of GPCR research have emerged. The first revolves around the discovery that GPCR activity can be modulated by allosteric ligands. These allosteric drugs bind at sites completely different from where traditional GPCR drugs are known to bind. The second new area involves the discovery that GPCRs are surprisingly flexible and often play more than one role in the cell. For example, sometimes different drugs can bind at the same spot on a GPCR, yet activate different signaling pathways. The latter process, called “biased signaling,” can occur for drugs binding in the traditional “pocket” in the receptor, as well as for allosteric ligands. Understanding how both these phenomena occur is of great therapeutic interest. New allosteric ligands that can preferentially induce biased signaling for one pathway versus another hold promise as a powerful way to complement the effect of existing pharmaceuticals, further dial in GPCR responses, and optimize the beneficial aspects of existing drugs while minimizing negative side-effects.

Precisely how allosteric ligands could induce biased signaling behavior is not known. However, a new paper by Jonathan Fay, Ph.D., and David Farrens, Ph.D., has begun to address this question by looking at the structural biology of the receptor.

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are intrinsically dynamic proteins that serve as conduits for disseminating information across the cell membrane.  Here, a fluorescent probe bimane (green) was attached to a the human Cannabinoid receptor (blue) to identify conformational fluctuations  that occur in the receptor (purple haze) upon binding small molecule ligands that bind to the traditional binding site (aqua) as well as allosterically (white).

G protein-coupled receptors are intrinsically dynamic proteins that serve as conduits for disseminating information across the cell membrane. Here, a fluorescent probe, bimane (green), was attached to the human cannabinoid receptor (blue) to identify conformational fluctuations that occur in the receptor (purple haze) upon binding small molecule ligands that bind to the traditional binding site (aqua) as well as allosterically (white).

Their study, “Structural dynamics and energetics underlying allosteric inactivation of the cannabinoid receptor CB1,” published in the July 7, edition of PNAS, discovered that a new structure is induced in the marijuana receptor (called CB1) by an unusual allosteric ligand, Org 27569. They found that while Org 27569 causes CB1 to bind more activating drugs (cannabinoid agonists), at the same time it inhibits the receptors’ ability to activate G-protein signaling.   Intriguingly, their results indicate that the binding of Org 27569 induces a new structure in the CB1 receptor, one that is biased towards other signaling pathways. Based on their findings, they proposed that this new structural state may be something that can universally occur in other GPCRs, thus affecting their signaling pathways as well.

These findings about the cannabinoid receptor are especially interesting, as they indicate that this receptor—which is common across multiple species—can be affected by multiple drugs binding at different sites. Together, these results indicate the potential for developing new pharmaceuticals that can complement, not compete with, cannabinoids, thus channeling signaling in directions that would be more beneficial for patients and cannabinoid enthusiasts.

This study was funded by NIH Training Grant T32 DA007267 (to J.F.F.) and NIH Grants R01 EY015436 and S10 RR025684 (to D.L.F.). David Farrens is an associate professor and Jonathan Fay is a senior post-doc in the School of Medicine Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at OHSU.

Michael Matrone, Ph.D., joins OHSU as postdoctoral affairs officer

Matrone Photo for RNMichael A. Matrone, Ph.D., joined OHSU this spring to head the newly created OHSU Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. In this role, Matrone will support all OHSU postdoctoral scholars from arrival to departure and assist faculty and administrators with postdoc training and mentoring.

For postdocs, he offers individualized career advisement on topics ranging from self-assessment and career exploration to job search skills for specific career paths, as well as application preparation and review. A career resource center Matrone established in cooperation with the OHSU library is near completion and will offer electronic and print resources. Later this year, based on input from postdocs, Matrone plans to develop and offer training courses and workshops on topics including career options for biomedical Ph.D.s, career transitions, job search skills, scientific communication, and more.

For faculty and administrators, Matrone serves as a resource and adviser to help with training and mentoring of postdocs. He offers support on creating individual development plans, training grant applications, oversight on policies and procedures for postdoctoral appointments, and the onboarding and exit processes.

Matrone brings with him a great deal of experience as a former postdoc himself and as someone who established a postdoctoral affairs office at another institution. After earning his bachelor’s degree in biology from Philadelphia University in Philadelphia, Pa., Matrone worked as a research assistant at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, studying the population genetics of mosquitos that transmit West Nile virus. He went on to pursue a master’s in molecular biology from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., and a Ph.D. in molecular medicine from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Matrone performed his postdoctoral studies at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, Calif., where he was a research fellow with the Robert E. Hewitt Foundation for Medical Research.

Through his own experience as a postdoc and involvement with the Society of Fellows, Scripps’ postdoctoral association, Matrone developed a passion for supporting postdoctoral scholars. He was hired as program coordinator in the Scripps’ Career and Postdoctoral Services office in San Diego, then transferred to Scripps Florida to open a full-time career and postdoc services office. At Scripps, he became involved in the National Postdoctoral Association and the Graduate Career Consortium, a non-profit professional organization of leaders dedicated to the career and professional development of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. Matrone is currently treasurer on the Board of Directors of the GCC.

Contact Mike Matrone for all things postdoc at or at 503-346-0361.

School of Nursing researcher to study exercise and nutrition in rural Latinas

Advertisements, news articles and entire reality TV series are based on the common knowledge that obesity, physical inactivity and a poor diet are risk factors for number of chronic illnesses and certain cancers. We also know that eating better and being active can turn those negative diagnoses around.

Cindy Perry (left) meets with community members in rural Washington State.

Cindy Perry (left) meets with community members in rural Washington State.

Cynthia Perry, Ph.D., F.N.P.-B.C., associate professor in the OHSU School of Nursing and director of the family nurse practitioner program, is taking this concept to a targeted audience with a two-year research study, “Fuerte y Sanas: Adaptation of an exercise and nutrition program for rural Latinas.” Through a grant from the National Cancer Institute, Perry is expanding on previous work promoting physical activity with rural Latino youth to introduce interventions that can reduce disparities related to physical inactivity and poor diet among Latinas in the Yakima Valley of Washington.

Census data shows that Latinas are less active and bear a disproportionate burden from physical inactivity and dietary-related negative health consequences as compared women in the general population. For example, the prevalence of obesity among U.S. Latinas is 44 percent compared with 32.6 percent in non-Latino white women. The prevalence of diabetes is 13.2 percent in Latinos compared with 7.6 percent in whites and Latino adults were 30 percent less likely to engage in physical activity.

Perry has been working with the Latina community in Sunnyside, Wash., since 2007, prior to coming to OHSU in July 2013. A former mentor worked with this community for two decades, inspiring Perry to work with this community and look at physical activity in children and now with Latina adults. She’s found that one way to address the gaps in health is to deliver culturally and linguistically meaningful interventions designed to reduce weight, increase physical activity, and improve dietary habits.

Perry’s study will entail adapting and testing a theory- and evidence-based physical activity program originally developed for rural white women. The curriculum – Strong Women, Healthy Hearts – is a 12-week exercise and nutrition program – has been shown to decrease weight, increase physical activity and improve cardiorespiratory fitness and dietary habits. Perry aims to extend the reach of the program as an avenue to addressing the health disparities experienced by this population.

Over two years, Perry will convene a community advisory board, made up of eight Latinas, to serve as a touchstone for learning what elements of the curriculum are most meaningful and how best to adapt the material for this population. She will recruit participants to attend classes two times a week for 12 weeks and measure fitness and activity level, attendance, satisfaction surveys, and the feasibility of running the program on a long-term basis. After this project, Perry hopes to write a larger grant to bring the curriculum to additional rural Latina communities in Washington, Oregon, and beyond.

Perry’s study is supported through a R03 grant 1R03CA197657-01 from the National Cancer Institute.

NIH wants your input on new child health program

The NIH is looking for input to help shape its funding priorities for new programming focused on environmental and pediatric health. If you were part of the now discontinued National Children’s Study (NCS), your feedback may be of particular interest. Moving forward, the NIH wants to leverage and expand on existing cohorts established under the NCS to address new research questions related to Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO). The focus will be on longitudinal studies that will share standardized research questions across four key pediatric public health oucomes:

  • Upper and lower airway (e.g., asthma, allergies, sleep disordered breathing)
  • Obesity (e.g., nutrition, diabetes, metabolic risk factors)
  • Pre-, peri-, and postnatal outcomes (e.g., birth defects, childhood outcomes)
  • Neurodevelopment [e.g., autism, ADHD, depression, social/behavioral development, cognition]

A primary focus of this effort is to improve on measurement of environmental exposures (e.g., physical, chemical, biological, psychosocial, natural and built environments) and to create standardization and synergies across studies. A center will be established to oversee coordination and will house an analytical or data science component.

The NIH seeks comments on topics such as standardized data elements, core elements to be considered, high impact opportunities, and anticipated advances among others. Of particular interest are suggestions from existing research studies that address these topics.

Submit your comments here and be part of a large resurgent public health initiative!

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