OHSU researcher part of breakthrough kidney cancer findings

OHSU researcher Paul Spellman, Ph.D. is among the contributors to a breakthrough discovery that reveals genomic drivers of a poorly understood form of kidney cancer, primary papillary renal cell carcinoma. The findings, published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine, identify many of the altered genes and cell signaling pathways that drive this disease. Spellman, a professor of molecular and medical genetics in the School of Medicine and a member of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, along with co-author W. Marston Linehan, M.D. at the National Cancer Institute, worked with physicians and investigators from 39 institutions participating in the Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network to release these findings. Results of this comprehensive study should help physicians better understand how to diagnose and treat patients with papillary kidney tumors, which account for 15 percent of kidney cancer cases. Read more about the discovery here.

Winter Vollum writing class starts Jan. 6

The Vollum Writing Class is a six-week 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 six weeks, Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., beginning Jan. 6, 2016. Six 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.

Upcoming OCTRI research forums: Mentored career development awards (K-awards)

Join the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute, OCTRI, in a monthly research forum that addresses all things clinical and translational research.

November and December’s topics delve into career development awards with a two-part series:

Part 1 – Mentored career development awards (K-awards):  Which one is for you?
Monday, Nov. 23, 2015
12 to 1 p.m.
Kohler Pavilion  13000A
Presenter: Cindy Morris

Part 2 – Mentored career development awards (K-awards):  Writing tips
Monday, Dec. 14, 2015
12 to 1 p.m.
Kohler Pavilion 13000A
Presenter: Cindy Morris

Click here for more information about the OCTRI Research Forum.

OCTRI invites all faculty and staff to discuss issues and solutions to common obstacles in conducting clinical and translational research. Do you have a clinical or translational research question? Let us know, and we’ll do our best to help during these events! Please submit questions and topic requests to Colleen Berreta.


School of Nursing Ph.D. students receive prestigious ARCS Scholar Award

ARCS Foundation Portland recently awarded two OHSU School of Nursing Ph.D. students the ARCS Foundation Scholar Award. Quin Denfeld and Suzi Frase are the first School of Nursing recipients of the prestigious award, which is $18,000 each over three years to pursue their research.

Quin Denfeld

Quin Denfeld

Quin Denfeld, B.S.N., R.N., a third-year ARCS scholar, received the Bates, Foley, Pedersen SON Scholar Award. Her research focus is cardiovascular pathophysiology and frailty syndrome among older adults. A graduate of Linfield College, Denfeld started at OHSU in 2011 as a post-baccalaureate student working as an R.N. in OHSU’s hospitals and clinics. She expects to receive her doctorate in 2016.

Suzi Frase

Suzi Frase

Suzi Frase, B.S.N., was honored with the Beeler/Joseph SON Scholar Award. She is researching necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants. Frase graduated from Seattle University, and came to OHSU in fall 2015. She hopes to receive her Ph.D. by 2021.

ARCS Foundation Portland supports and nurtures women and men in doctoral programs at OHSU, Oregon State University and the University of Oregon to take on the science challenges of today and tomorrow. It is one of 17 ARCS Foundation chapters nationwide and has awarded more than 150 scholar awards totaling $2.5 million since 2004. See the OHSU School of Medicine 2015 awardees here.


School of Dentistry Dean’s Seminar, David T. Wong, UCLA, Nov. 30

The OHSU School of Dentistry welcomes David T. Wong, D.M.D., D.M.Sc., professor and associate dean of research, UCLA School of Dentistry, and director, Oral/Head and Neck Oncology Research Center, as he presents “Saliva-based EFIRM liquid biopsy,” as part of the School of Dentistry Dean’s Seminar Series.

Monday, Nov. 30, 2015
12:15 to 1:15 p.m.
Collaborative Life Sciences Building, 3Aoo3A/B

Add to your calendar.

For more information about the speaker series, call 503 494-8874 or visit the School of Dentistry website.


OBSSR seeks input for FY 2016-2020 strategic plan

The NIH’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) is in the process of establishing core scientific and policy priorities for their five year strategic plan. Because behavioral and social sciences (BSSR) research is broad in scope, and has seen rapid changes, emerging questions and concerns have come to light and they are seeking input on how to most effectively address these challenges. Input can comprise the current state of social and behavioral science which covers a wide range of disciplines including neuroscience, psychology, sociology, and anthropology, among others. OBSSR also wants to hear about critical challenges in the behavioral and social sciences that currently hinder scientific advancement as well as the areas of research that hold the most promise in achieving the OBSSR and NIH missions. The OBSSR FY 2016-2020 Strategic Plan will be shaped by your input.

Please submit responses by November 20, 2015 to OBSSRStrategicPlan@mail.nih.gov.

Breast Cancer Issues Conference: Call for abstracts

The Susan G. Komen Foundation’s local affiliate will be hosting a small poster session at their next Breast Cancer Issues Conference. They are inviting OHSU researchers to submit abstracts for consideration by Nov. 20, 2015. The conference will be held on March 5, 2016 at the DoubleTree Hotel in NE Portland.

This conference aims to provide education, support and empowerment for breast cancer survivors, co-survivors, and health professionals. The annual event covers topics such as risk reduction, the latest in research and treatment, and improving quality of life.2013_komeno_logo12435

Potential poster presentation topics include but are not limited to:

  • Survivorship
  • Patient care
  • Clinical oncology
  • Epidemiology/risks
  • Culturally specific care
  • Palliative care
  • Outcomes and health service research
  • Recent breast cancer research developments

The conference attracts about 500 attendees annually and would be a great opportunity for trainees to practice disseminating research findings to a lay audience. Full submission instructions can be found here

NCI Research Specialist Award FOA released

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) released an FOA Monday, Nov. 2, inviting grant applications for the Research Specialist Award (R50) in any area of cancer research. This award is designed to support exceptional scientists who are not PIs, providing sufficient autonomy so they are not solely dependent on grants held by principal investigators.

There has been a continued shift in the way research is conducted with an increased reliance on research specialists in labs, cores, and other support facilities. The extramural community has begun to respond to this shift by providing PIs grant support to hire and retain such specialists, but this award is the first to provide an independent funding mechanism for these individuals. Under this mechanism, awardees can move to other research programs or institutions while maintaining funding.

Earlier this year, we reported on the NCI’s plans to offer this award in its effort to stabilize the scientific workforce. With the release of this FOA, questions still remain about potential impact on the way labs do business and how much demand there will be for this funding mechanism.

The award will fund:

  1. Up to 100 percent salary support for the research specialist commensurate with their level of effort on NCI-funded grants for up to five years
  2.  Travel costs not to exceed $5,000 per year

The number of awards is contingent on NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of strong applications. To be eligible for this award, the research specialist must identify a primary sponsor (unit director or equivalent) who is responsible for working with the research specialist on planning and executing the proposed research. In addition, the qualified applicant must:

  • have an advanced degree (e.g. master’s, Ph.D., D.V.M., D.D.S. or M.D.) in an area of biomedical science or engineering
  • have demonstrated cancer research experience and accomplishments
  • show clear evidence of productivity with the goal of continuing to make significant contributions to cancer research relevant to the NCI mission

Letter of Intent is due Jan. 9, 2016; full application is due Feb. 9, 2016.

Read the full announcement here.

New University Shared Resources funding, applications due Nov. 30

The University Shared Resources (USR) program and the Senior Vice President for Research office are soliciting grant applications for the USR Core Pilot Grants program. Each grant will provide up to $10,000 to investigators for pre-award or pilot data generated in the cores. Eligible costs are for core services associated with the development and submission of new grants, including consultation time, reagents, supplies, and technical staff time for assisting investigators. However, in some cases they could be used for the development of a specific strategic scientific capability.


  • Applicants can use any OHSU core to be considered eligible to receive pilot funding money, but preference will be given to USR cores. Cores must receive all awarded funds. If a portion of the job must be sub-contracted, sub-contracts must be arranged by the core.
  • OHSU PIs and senior postdoctoral fellows are eligible to apply.

Applications must be filled out online through OHSU’s Competitive Application Portal (CAP). Full instructions are provided on CAP and can also be found here.

Please note: Applicants must consult with the director of the designated core prior to application submission and applications must include a letter of support from the core director. Applications are due November 30, 2015 and awards will be announced December 15, 2015.

Learn more here.

De-mystifying the (NIH) Commons

NIH data scienceLarge-scale efforts are underway at NIH to tackle hurdles associated with accessing and utilizing Big Data. Making public data, especially large commonly used data sets, easily accessible in the cloud will reduce the burden and cost of individual investigators independently moving and storing data, enable the ability to compute against data sets, and permit new and novel uses across data sets. The (NIH) Commons was created as a platform to make this possible. It is a shared virtual space where scientists can engage biomedical research digital objects that will allow them to find, manage, share, use and reuse data, software, metadata and workflows. For digital objects to be in the Commons, they must have attributes that make them Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR), i.e. they must follow the FAIR principles.

Because the Commons was only recently introduced and is still under development, many in the research community are still wondering what it’s composed of and how it works. This week, a document was released by NIH that provides a clearer description of the Commons and some of the pilot programs initiated to develop and test its various components.

The Data Science at NIH online forum, INPUT | OUTPUT, published the first in a series of blog posts describing the four main building blocks of the Commons that work together to form a complex ecosystem:

  • computing environment, such as the cloud or HPC (High Performance Computing) resources, which support access, utilization and storage of digital objects.
  • Public datasets that adhere to Commons Digital Object Compliance principles.
  • Softwareservices and tools that enable a broad array of data indexing and sharing, and connectivity between repositories and registries;
  • A set of Digital Object Complianceprinciples that describes the properties of digital objects that enables them to be findable, accessible, interoperable and reproducible (FAIR).

Each of the components are being further refined and integrated through a series of Commons pilots. Because development is ongoing, NIH hopes to foster discussion and gather input from the research community through the INPUT | OUTPUT blog. Stay tuned for future postings.

Read the full document, including details about specific pilots here.

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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