Mock Study Section offers a front row seat at Research Week, May 3

You are invited to watch seasoned reviewers discuss NIH proposals as if you were there! The Mock NIH Study Section, led by Charles Rafferty, Ph.D., will review NIH K career development and R01 applications with a panel of OHSU faculty acting as reviewers. This event will demonstrate how grants are evaluated and discussed through the NIH peer review process, and provide insight into improving your own grantsmanship. In addition, you get to participate! The audience will be asked to score the applications on a clicker, with results displaying in real time.

Mock Study Section
Tuesday, May 3
12 to 1:30 p.m.
OHSU Auditorium

In preparation for the event, please read the two grant applications – the K23 and the R01 – and browse through the NIH review materials, including critique templates, review guidance and NIH scoring table. If you’re short on time, read the R01’s Specific Aims and the K23’s Career Development Plan. As you will see, these are actual NIH proposals that have been redacted to protect the innocent.

All materials can be found here. You need your OHSU credentials to log in.

Charles N. Rafferty, Ph.D., is a health research and grants policy consultant with extensive experience in managing research programs and planning and conducting peer review in environmental, and occupational health and clinical research in musculoskeletal, skin, and rheumatic diseases. He was formerly Chief of the Scientific Review Branch at the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In this position, he oversaw all grant and contract peer review activities carried out by NIAMS.

The Mock Study Section is sponsored by Oregon Clinical & Translational Research Institute.


OCTRI presents two trainings, May 5 & 9

The Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute (OCTRI) is sponsoring the following training presentations:

Working with CTO-Contracting: How do I get my clinical trial contract negotiated and why isn’t it signed yet?
Thursday, May 5, 2016 

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
OHSU Hospital, 8th floor auditorium

Speakers: Darlene Kitterman, M.B.A., and Jacqueline Brown, J.D.

Subject injury policy, identification, and reporting at OHSU*
Monday, May 9, 2016

12 to 1 p.m.
OHSU Hospital, 8th floor auditorium

Speakers: Darlene Kitterman, M.B.D., Kathryn Schuff, M.D., and Melanie Hawkins, R.N.

*This presentation is pending approval by the OHSU School of Nursing for one Continuing Nursing Education contact hour.

Further details can be found here. Registration is not required. For questions, please contact Kimberly Poole at or 503 494-3812.

Register for OHSU’s Three-Minute Thesis competition by Apr. 26

3MT-2015-300x94Think you can describe your research to Tram travelers in the time it takes to reach the South Waterfront?

Back by popular demand, OHSU Research Week 2016 is excited to host its fourth annual Three Minute Thesis Competition for graduate students on Wednesday, May 4, at 3:30 p.m in the OHSU Auditorium. The 3MT® is an academic competition developed by the University of Queensland, Australia. The exercise develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills as students explain their research in three minutes in a language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience. Any student enrolled in an OHSU graduate program may participate. View examples of winning 3MT presentations.


  • Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum; competitors exceeding three minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g., no poems, raps, or songs).
  • A single, static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations, or movement of any description, the slide is to be presented from the beginning of oration).
  • No additional electronic media (e.g., sound or audio files) or props are permitted.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
  • Presentations will be judged by a panel of faculty and non-faculty.

Judging criteria
Communication style: Was the thesis topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience?
Comprehension: Did the presentation help the audience understand the research?
Engagement: Did the oration make the audience want to know more?

Winner: $300
Runner-up: $200
People’s choice award: $200

Register to participate by Apr. 26 by contacting Jackie Wirz at Questions about Research Week? Contact

Learning the business of science: internship deadline Apr. 29

Practicing science is not just something one does in the lab–in fact, you can use your science a variety of careers. Technology transfer and business development are one path–and OHSU has an internship program to help you navigate it. Interns in Technology Transfer and Business Development are important contributors to OHSU: they assist with transferring discoveries into the public space. In return, interns gain valuable knowledge and skills that can be applied in a wide range of professions. Since 2005, more than 50 interns have volunteered in TTBD before moving on to careers in scientific research, business, and law. Meet the 2015-2016 academic year interns! And find out details about the summer internship program below.

AbbyAbby Dotson, Ph.D. works with the Business Development team to identify and develop industry partnerships for OHSU’s infectious disease technologies. She also assists the office by evaluating technologies, drafting non-confidential summaries and conducting market research. Abby received her Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from the University of Kansas and is currently a postdoctoral scientist in the Department of Neurology at OHSU. Starting June 1st, Abby will be transitioning away from bench work to work as an Alliance Manager in TTBD, focusing her career on developing impactful academic-industry partnerships to promote the advancement of therapeutic technologies.

sudeshna_pictureSudeshna Dutta, Ph.D. works with Trina Voss, Technology Development Manager, to evaluate the commercial potential of OHSU owned mouse models. She is creating a decision tree for assessing new models and determining possible distribution routes. She also performs new technology disclosure evaluations, related prior art searches, and looks at the future market potential of technologies. Sudeshna was recently hired on as a full-time Translational Strategist at Due North Innovation, a Portland company dedicated to helping move technologies from laboratory to the market. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular & Cellular Biology from the University of Maryland, College Park and did her postdoctoral studies at Oregon Health & Science University.

37bf8b7Scott Vanderwerf, Ph.D. worked with Travis Cook, Senior Technology Development Manager, to prepare non-confidential summaries of OHSU technologies, which he marketed to potential licensees. He also evaluated new OHSU technologies for commercial potential and assisted with the development of term sheets. Scott was recently hired on as lead scientist for a local medical device startup company, where he will conduct product development using his scientific and entrepreneurial skills. Scott received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from OHSU, and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department.

Where are they now?

Past TTBD interns have gone on to pursue careers in technology transfer, patent law, startup development, and other career paths. We checked in with our interns from the 2015 summer program to see where they are in their career path, since their departure from the TTBD office.

Uchenna Emechebe, Ph.D. worked closely with Trina Voss, Technology Development Manager, to build on cell line portfolios, discover ways to add value to biomaterials, write non-confidential summaries, and identify potential licensees. He has since become an inventor of an OHSU licensed technology. Uchenna is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute.

Dan Murphy, MS worked with Jeff Jackson, Senior Patent Associate, to draft office actions, conduct prior art searches, and compose patent application drafts. Dan is currently working towards a Juris Doctor degree from Lewis & Clark Law School.

Marek Szumowski worked with Travis Cook, Senior Technology Development Manager, to build a financial model for evaluating intellectual property. He created a Standard Operating Procedure for improving the process for tracking technology marketing efforts and developed hit lists based on relevant technology sectors. Marek currently serves as a Research Specialist for the Shriners Hospital for Children and is working to complete his M.B.A. at Portland State University.

Summer Internship applications are open from April 1 through April 29, 2016.

In order to qualify for a TTBD internship, candidates must:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in a life or physical science or in engineering.
  • Be pursuing or have received a graduate-level degree in science, medicine, engineering, business, or law.
  • Have an interest in intellectual property, technology transfer, and/or business development as a career goal.
  • Be able to commit to volunteering 20 – 25 hours per week for the entirety of the 2016 summer term (6/20/2016 – 8/26/2016).

To learn more about the internship program and how to apply, please visit the TTBD website.

Eric Gouaux’s serotonin transporter research featured by NIH

CaptureRecent findings by Vollum Institute senior scientist, Eric Gouaux, Ph.D., and team that reveal the molecular structure of the human serotonin transporter, are getting a lot of attention from the biomedical community and the media. Gouaux’s study was featured in NIH Research Matters, the online publication that highlights groundbreaking NIH-funded discoveries. The article, “Serotonin transporter structure revealed,” discusses the innovative technique developed by the team that allowed them to use X-ray crystallography to capture a 3-D image of the protein. “The technique yielded a detailed molecular map of the human serotonin transporter’s structure… The researchers could also see where genetic variations associated with various psychiatric disorders are located in the transporter. Knowing the structure of the transporter can help researchers gain insights into the molecular causes of these disorders and of antidepressant treatment resistance.”


OHSU forum: Data science and biomedical research, Apr. 20

The OHSU community is invited to attend a forum with Philip Bourne, Ph.D., associate director for data science at the National Institutes of Health, presenting on data science and biomedical research.

Forum and Q&A
Wednesday, Apr. 20
12 p.m.
Mackenzie Hall 1162

The associate director and his office provide input to the overall NIH vision and actions undertaken by each of the 27 Institutes and Centers in support of biomedical research as a digital enterprise. They are currently focused on five programmatic themes and welcome community input to shape the efforts in a time of profound change in how biomedical research is undertaken. Prior to his position at NIH , Bourne was the associate vice chancellor for innovation and industrial alliances and a professor in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California San Diego. .

Bourne will make a few introductory remarks followed by a Q&A session.

NIGMS seeks input on team science research

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences is examining the benefits and challenges of team science and considering how best to support this mode of scientific research. In doing so, NIGMS is seeking input from the biomedical research community to assist in considering the needs and opportunities in team science at the multi-investigator, institutional, regional and national levels. For the purposes of this Request for Information (RFI), team science and team-based research are defined as research that involves multiple investigators to answer questions that cannot be answered either by a single investigator and his/her lab or by a group of closely collaborative investigators supported on a multi-PI R01 grant.

Input is sought on the following:

  • Interest in team science – Comments may include the relative importance of team science in your field and sharing your own experiences.
  • Management and advisory structures in team science – Suggest types of management structures within a project that would enable an effective team science program (e.g. leadership models, use of external review groups, etc.) as well as challenges and solutions for issues around management.
  • Team composition – May include comments on recruiting team members, training, the value of diversity in team science and the challenges of recognizing individual efforts on team science research.
  • Resources and infrastructure – Comments on technical and administrative cores, both existing and those that would need to be established to facilitate team science.
  • Assessment of team science – Factors to be considered in the peer review of team science-based grant applications as well as appropriate quantitative and qualitative measures of success and impact.
  • Comments on past or current NIGMS team-based programs and funding mechanisms
  • Other issues

Responses will be accepted through June 17, 2016. All comments must be submitted via email as text or as an attached electronic document. Microsoft Word documents are preferred. Responses should be addressed to

This is a great way to help shape a new program in its formative stages. Please make your voices heard!

Study confirms mitochondrial mutations increase with age, impact stem cell treatments

A team led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, Ph.D., director of the Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy at OHSU, has confirmed that mutations in mitochondrial DNA accumulate with age and can limit cells’ ability to create energy and function properly. The study examined induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells derived from patients’ skin or blood cells and identified faulty DNA, with each cell having potentially different types and percentages of mutations. These defects could undermine the iPS cells’ ability to repair damaged tissue or organs and impair their therapeutic value.  © Copyright 2014 Corbis Corporation

The study published Apr. 14, in the journal Cell Stem Cell, examined blood and skin samples of patients ranging from 24 to 72 and in various states of health. Because these samples contained millions of cells, most mitochondrial mutations remained hidden with initial testing. However, when the researchers sequenced the iPS cell lines – expanded clones of individual cells- they found higher numbers of mutations, particularly in cells from patients older than 60.

“Pathogenic mutations in our mitochondrial DNA have long been thought to be a driving force in aging and age-related diseases, though clear evidence was missing. Now with that evidence at hand, we know that we must screen stem cells for mutations or collect them at younger age to ensure their mitochondrial genes are healthy,” said Mitalipov. “This foundational knowledge of how cells are damaged in the natural process of aging may help to illuminate the role of mutated mitochondria in degenerative disease.”

The study, “Age-Related Accumulation of Mitochondrial DNA mutations in Adult-Derived Human iPSCs,” was supported by the Fondation Leducq, OHSU institutional funds and Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Research Foundation.

Further details and a list of coauthors can be found in the full press release.

Volunteer as a presentation judge at Research Week!

ResearchWeekArt2106 FNL RGBResearch Week 2016 is fast approaching and we need your help! We are looking for 51 faculty, postdocs, and research staff to serve as judges for students and postdocs who are presenting talks and posters during Research Week, May 2-6. For each session for which you sign up to judge, you’ll be asked to evaluate a maximum of four student presentations (either oral or poster). Visit the sign-up page for a full listing of session dates, times, and research topics that need coverage. To sign up, check the box for the session you’re interested in and click “submit”–once you get into the tool, you’ll be able to see full details. You can also view the session schedule to see which research presentations fit your expertise.

This is a great opportunity to provide valuable feedback to students and postdocs, and to learn more about the wide-ranging, innovative research taking place here at OHSU.

We kindly ask that you register as soon as possible so we can fill any gaps before the main event. Thank you for contributing to a successful Research Week 2016!

Researchers demonstrate the impact of obesity on emergency contraception

Edelman_Alison_15OHSU clinical researchers Alison Edelman, M.D., M.P.H., and Jeffrey Jensen, M.D., M.P.H., published a study that examined why emergency contraception isn’t as effective in obese women, and how to potentially increase its effectiveness in this population. The findings, published March 19 in the journal Contraception, show how obesity adversely impacts circulating levels of emergency contraception, and that doubling the dose appears to correct obesity-related interference in the drug’s efficacy.Jensen-Jeffrey_12

Roughly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. Single-dose emergency contraception (EC), commonly referred to as “the morning after pill,” has the potential to decrease the risk of pregnancy following unprotected sex by nearly 90%. The most commonly used EC is the progestin hormone levonorgestrel (LNG); now available over the counter to both adults and adolescents, its use is increasing. Unfortunately, the LNG-based method appears to be significantly less effective in obese women, failing 4 times as often as in non-obese women. The exact mechanism for this phenomenon remains unknown and no prior studies have compared this EC’s effectiveness between obese and women of normal weight.

In their paper, “Impact of obesity on the pharmacokinetics of levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception: Single and double dosing,” the authors provide evidence of how obesity interferes with the pharmacokinetics (how the body responds to a drug’s movement into and out of the body) of LNG. Women enrolled in the study were given both a single and double dose of LNG, then free (pharmacologically active) and total LNG levels were measured in blood samples at various time intervals after administration. What the researchers found was the levels were significantly lower in obese women who had received a single dose vs. non-obese women, but LNG levels increased significantly with a double dose of the drug, nearly equal to the levels observed in normal BMI subjects receiving a single dose.

While the team was unable to determine a clear mechanism for obesity’s significant impact on LNG due to a limited sample, it does appear that binding proteins play a key role. Levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) are lower in the obese, and since LNG is bound to SHBG, unpredictable clearance of the hormone can occur. They conclude that doubling the LNG dose may be an effective strategy to improve its efficacy in obese women.

This work was made possible by the support of the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon (Grant 1501), the National Institutes of Health support of the OHSU Oregon Clinical & Translational Research Institute (NIH NCRR 1 UL1 RR024120), as well as the Oregon National Primate Reserach Center core grant (OD011092). Co-authors on this study: Ganesh Cherala, Ph.D., Steven Blue, and David Erickson, Ph.D.

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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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