National Institute of General Medical Sciences announces new funding mechanism for early-career scientists

Earlier this week, NIGMS announced a new funding mechanism for early-career researchers–the MIRA, for Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award for New and Early Stage Investigators (R35). This mechanism is intended to support scientists, rather than specific projects.  It’s a bit of an experiment for NIGMS, so they are limiting eligible applicants to NIH-defined Early Stage Investigators and New Investigators at the assistant professor rank or equivalent (postdocs on K99s are not eligible; but if you have an R00 you may be). This award is an expansion of the funding program released in January for NIGMS-supported investigators with two or more awards from that agency. Unlike the previous award, you don’t need to be already funded by NIGMS to apply.

Your friendly Research News editors heard NIGMS director Jon Lorsch talk about the rationale for this program earlier this spring. We learned that the intention of this program is move away from funding specific projects and instead invest in scientists–for these awards, you don’t even submit an aims page. Lorsch hopes that this approach will improve stability–and therefore creativity–for investigators, as well as allow them to explore promising directions when they arise out of the experiments rather than wait for permission from program officers. NIGMS also hopes they can improve funding distribution and invest in more scientists.  This will allow them to have a broader research portfolio, with more diversity in the kinds of scientists and institutions–something, Lorsch says, that is difficult to achieve in a project-based model under existing funding (read: political) conditions.

Unsurprisingly, there was immediate skepticism about how it would all work (also see comments the NIGMS blog), but give them credit for trying.

Applications are due September 9th (November 19 for AIDS-related applications).

2nd annual NeuroFutures Conference, July 15-17: Register now, abstracts due July 1

One in four U.S. adults suffer from a diagnosable neurological disorder, and a quarter of these are seriously disabled as a result. These patients endure immense physical and emotional suffering, and their family members and caregivers bear a heavy emotional and financial burden. That’s why thought leaders in research, engineering, industry, and clinical settings from around the world will descend on Portland for the 2nd annual NeuroFutures Conference, July 15-17.  Sponsored by the OHSU Brain Institute, the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and the University of Washington, this annual conference explores innovations in neurotechnology.

NeuroFutures Conference
Wednesday, July 15 through Friday, July 17
Sentinel Hotel, 614 S.W. 11th Ave., Portland

Register now.

Topics covered at the conference include:

  • Neuroethics
  • Neuromodulation
  • Metabolic imaging
  • Brain computer interface
  • Big data analytics
  • Tools and techniques
  • Macro imaging
  • Micro imaging
  • Translation barriers

A number of distinguished OHSU experts will present, including Dennis Bourdette, M.D., Kim Burchiel, M.D., Damien Fair, P.A.-C., Ph.D., Jim Galbraith, Ph.D., Kathleen Grant, Ph.D., David Huang, M.D., Ph.D., and Jeff Iliff, Ph.D. For a complete list of speakers and panelists, check the conference website. A full agenda is located on the site, too.

Abstracts are being accepted until July 1. Submission guidelines are here.

Register now!

This conference focuses on the intersection of several fields:  Neuroimaging and brain mapping, the biology underlying healthy and disease state, and neuromodulation to stimulate the nervous system to treat certain neurological diseases. Recent advances illustrate the promise of neurotechnologies–for example, new medical devices have been able to restore hearing to deaf children via cochlear implants, restore vision to a blind person via retinal prostheses, control tremors in Parkinson’s patients via deep brain stimulation, and reduce the frequency and impact of epileptic seizures via neural stimulation. Extending these successes to stroke, Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injury, depression, and other diseases is the goal.

Bonus opportunity
Haven’t had enough of the brain? NeuroFutures 2015 attendees are invited to attend the Portland International Neuroscience Symposium, also in Portland, July 17-19. Top neuroscience physicians and scientists will address state-of-the-art clinical topics and related research important to neuroscience. Topics include dementia, headache, neuro critical care, terminal care and ethics, and more. For more information, visit the symposium website.

A bird’s eye view of NIH

Sally Rockey

Wondering what NIH leadership really thinks about the future of federal funding for biomedical research? Interested in learning about the impact NIH-funded research is having and the progress that’s been made on large NIH initiatives? Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Sally Rockey, addressed these topics and more in a recent opening plenary presentation at the NIH Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration in Baltimore. The full 55 minute presentation, View of NIH from 10,000 feet, is available for viewing here, but following are some highlights:


  • 10 percent of NIH’s budget goes toward HIV/AIDS research, an investment that has had a significant impact on the quality and length of patients’ lives. In the mid-1980s, a young person presenting with AIDS had a prognosis of 3 to 6 months to live. HIV research and resulting therapies have given patients diagnosed this year a life expectancy of 70+ years .
  • Cancer rates are declining at the rate of 1 percent per year due to early detection and better treatments.
  • Cardiovascular disease deaths are down over 60 percent in the last half century.
  • Human Genome Sequencing is close to being performed at a cost of $1,000. This compared to the $2 billion spent on the Human Genome Project in the early 1990s.

NIH’s budget has been essentially flat since 2003, and yet inflation demands larger awards be made to cover research costs. As a result, fewer awards can be made, and success rates have dropped from over 30 percent prior to 2003 to about 18 percent in 2014 .

“Too much good science is being left on the table,” asserts Rockey, so the Office of Extramural Research is advocating for a slow yet predictable trajectory for budget growth rather than continued cycles of rapid expansion and drastic cuts. The funding practices of the past 11 years are “no way to sustain an enterprise,” said Rockey. But she’s optimistic given what she’s hearing from Congress about growing bi-partisan support for more stable and consistent growth.

Rockey also presented data on international research investment compared to that of the U.S./NIH. The percentage of other countries’ budgets spent on biomedical research is growing significantly, while the U.S.’s is declining. China in particular is making large investments in both infrastructure and workforce: between 2007 and 2012, China’s compound annual growth rate of biomedical R&D expenditures was over 32 percent, while the U.S. showed a negative 1.9 percent growth rate.

Read more…

IRB Brown Bag Special Series: eIRB Upgrade Demo

IRB Brown BageIRB Upgrade: Demo

Presented by: Kelly Kidner, IRB analyst

Thursday, June 11
10 to 11 a.m.
OHSU Hospital, 8th floor auditorium

Are you involved with Human Subjects research? Come to the eIRB Upgrade Demo! During this brown bag we will be giving an overall demonstration of the new eIRB system. You can see a presentation of the new Initial Submissions process, the modifications and CRQs and the new Reportable New Information (RNI) system. This brown bag session will be open for questions and answers.

SBIR/STTR application support program (Phase 0) Q&A session, June 23

Do you have an OHSU start-up? Are you planning on submitting an SBIR/STTR Phase 1, 2, or fast-track application by the Sept. 5 federal deadline?

OCTRI and Business Oregon can help! OCTRI is accepting applications for its SBIR/STTR Phase 0 program, which provides up to $5,000 for three written critiques of proposals and other grant preparation services. Phase 0 applications are due July 6– please see the RFA for complete details. The specific goal of the Phase 0 program is to improve the competitiveness of SBIR/STTR applications. Currently, only OHSU startups or companies with OHSU intellectual property are eligible to apply.

SBIR/STTR application Support Program (Phase 0): Informational Q&A session
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
12 to 1 p.m.
Mackenzie Hall 2201

Please direct program inquiries to Jonathan Jubera, OHSU Biomedical Innovation Program, at 503-805-8179 or Mark Brady, Business Oregon, at 503-689-5638.

For more funding opportunities please see the OCTRI Funding page.

TTBD Innovator Spotlight: Perry Gliessman

Perry Gliessman has a long, innovative history at OHSU. For over 20 years, he developed technologies for medical research and data acquisition at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC). His inventions ranged from unique patient monitoring systems and surgical instruments to multi-channel neurotransmitter infusion and sampling systems designed for neuroendocrine research. He also designed and drove the implementation of the first fiber optic network for the OHSU West Campus. Then, during his seven-year tenure as the Director of Technology Services for OHSU’s Information Technology Group, he designed a new, state-of-the-art data center on the university’s West Campus.

Gliessman is a futuristic thinker. He realized in 2009 that the existing OHSU data center was inefficient and the capacity was insufficient to meet OHSU’s burgeoning computing and storage needs. Anticipating “big data” generated by the university, Perry designed the advanced “Data Dome,” which can efficiently accommodate a diverse range of equipment with associated power requirements to meet the current and future needs of OHSU’s healthcare, research, and academic missions. The unique design of the new data center achieves excellent efficiency and uses existing OHSU computing hardware in combination with new state-of-the-art equipment. The new center has demonstrated that energy-efficient data centers can build on existing equipment rather than replacing legacy hardware with identical custom-designed central processing units.

Perry Gliessman in front of OHSU’s Data Center

By challenging the boundaries of industry standards, he created a data center that is

  • Less expensive to operate
  • More energy efficient (ductwork, fans, chillers, air conditioners and humidifiers have been eliminated – the dome shape enhances natural air flow)
  • Easily expandable as university demand grows
  • Resistant to natural disasters (it’s built on minimal fault lines, has a seismically stable geodesic design, and can endure high wind loads and the accumulation of volcanic ash)

Read more…

2015 BioScience Innovation Program Awardees

Several years ago, Oregon Health & Science University, with support from the OHSU Foundation, developed the BioScience Innovation Program  to fund proof of concept, technology development and testing of early-stage OHSU technologies. This program, administered by Technology Transfer & Business Development, leverages funds raised through the University Venture Development Fund, an Oregon tax credit program that facilitates the commercialization of university research, entrepreneurial education, and technology transfer initiatives. Together, these funds help fill a critical gap in the technology commercialization pathway.

Three technology development grants were recently awarded:

Small molecule therapeutics to restore nerve regeneration through chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans
Mike Cohen, PhD, and Beth Habecker, PhD
Many types of injury or disease, such as spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and heart attacks, lead to nerve damage. In fact, each year over 1.2 million Americans suffer a heart attack, which damages the cardiac sympathetic nerves and results in arrhythmias. Restoring nerve function is a key aim in reversing the damage caused by these events. The project aims to evaluate and develop two lead compounds and their effects on nerve axon regeneration in a mouse model. Data generated will address critical questions about the molecules behavior in vivo thus making the technology more attractive for incorporation into an industry partner’s pipeline for continued drug development.

Novel dental composites
Carmem Pfeifer, DDS, PhD
Current dental resin composites last, on average, between 5-10 years due to fracture and degradation. Polymerization shrinkage and stress cause degradation at the tooth interface leading to restoration failure. To date, materials developed to reduce polymerization shrinkage and stress have proven inefficient at extending the life span of restorations. Novel resin composites have been developed that reduce polymerization shrinkage by 10-20% and reduce polymerization stress by 50-75% as compared to current resin composites. The current project aims to scale up the synthesis of this novel resin as well as optimize the reaction conditions for larger volumes, synthesize coupling agents that increase integrity of composites long-term, and finally produce an esthetically pleasing composite material for dental restorations.

Preclinical study of CREB inhibitors as novel breast cancer therapies
Xiangshu Xiao, PhD
Currently available treatment options for patients with breast cancer are insufficient, manifested by the tumor’s resistance to current targeted therapeutics. The complexity of breast cancer and issues of current breast cancer therapies create an urgent need to develop non-toxic breast cancer therapeutics with novel mechanisms of action. A novel small molecule compound was previously discovered at OHSU that is potent and highly selective against certain forms of breast cancer. This project aims to address critical questions about the properties of this molecule in a breast cancer mouse model while also determining oral efficacy and developing derivative compounds to improve pharmacological activity. With these results the technology program will be more attractive to industry partners for further drug development.

With funding from the BioScience Innovation Program, further translation of early stage discoveries into viable products and services for public benefit is possible. Currently, the University Venture Development Fund is going through the Oregon legislature for reauthorization.  This fund not only benefits OHSU, but also all public universities in the state.

NSF early career development grant due July 21st

Attention Junior faculty members!

One of National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards, The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program, offers support to those who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

This program intends to provide stable support at a sufficient level and duration. NSF encourages submission of CAREER proposals from junior faculty members and especially encourages women, members of underrepresented minority groups, and persons with disabilities to apply. The minimum CAREER award, including indirect costs, will total $400,000 for 5-years’ duration.

NSF anticipates awarding 400 applicants this year. Deadline to submit full proposals is July 21, 2015.

Check out the program guidelines and the FAQs page for more information.

Seminar: How bacteria and cancer cells regulate mutagenesis, June 12

The OHSU Institute of Environmental Health presents “How bacteria and cancer cells regulate mutagenesis and their ability to evolve,” a seminar by Susan Rosenberg, Ph.D. Rosenberg is the Ben F. Love Chair in Cancer Research, professor of molecular and human genetics, and leader of teh Cancer Evolvability Program in the Dan Duncan Cancer Center at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Friday, June 12, 2015
10:45 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Mackenzie Hall, room 1162

Rosenberg studies molecular mechanisms of genomic-instability, which are conserved from bacteria to human, and which drive cancer, infectious disease and evolution. Her lab focuses on the molecular basis of their activity as a model of human oncogenesis, and evolution generally.

Questions? Contact Peter Zuber via email.




OCTRI announces 2016 Catalyst Award recipients

The Oregon Clinical & Translational Research Institute (OCTRI) is pleased to announce the 2016 Catalyst Award recipients. This grant is designed to support novel, collaborative research initiatives at OHSU.  David Ellison, director of OCTRI, says, “This year, the RFA encouraged proposals to develop novel research methodologies that may have generalizable applications.”

Click here to read project abstracts.

OCTRI’s Catalyst program receives institutional support from the School of Medicine’s Research Roadmap initiative and the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research. For more information about Catalyst and other pilot award programs, visit the OCTRI funding opportunities web page.

Congratulations to the 2016 Catalyst Award winners:

Allison Hill, Ph.D.

“An automated, multi-modal tool for quantifying the autism phenotype”



Sandra Rugonyi, Ph.D.

“Predicting treatment outcomes of infants with cyanotic heart disease using computational modeling”



Takahiro Tsujikawa, M.D., Ph.D.

“Practical and cost-effective multiplexed immunohistochemistry for comprehensive immune complexity analysis of solid tumors”



Nicole Weiskopf, Ph.D.

“Development and evaluation of an EHR data quality assessment tool”



For more information on OCTRI’s resources and services, please visit:

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