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.

Logan and her research were featured on the OHSU YouTube channel on March 8.

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In addition to Freeman and Logan, the multi-institutional team that conducted the research published in Nature Communications 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:

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.

AHRQ seeking science on treatment-resistant depression

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is looking more closely at why some patients diagnosed with depression don’t respond to treatment. Currently, there is scant data on the prevalence of treatment-resistant depression, and a thorough review of the research that exists hasn’t been conducted. So AHRQ is embarking on a review of both ongoing and published studies of treatment-resistant depression. Specifically, they’re looking at how the condition is defined, what populations have been studied, and which drugs have been tested.

Have a study you’d like to submit? Do so here by March 31, 2017.

Research Week 2017: Call for abstracts, due Mar. 7

FPP 21469239 Research Week 2017 ART RGBStudents, faculty, research-ranked employees, postdocs, and staff are invited to submit abstracts for an oral or poster presentation at OHSU Research Week, May 1-3, 2017.

Research Week is a university-wide event that celebrates the excellence of research performed across all schools, centers, institutes, and education programs at OHSU. It’s a unique opportunity to get out of the lab or clinic and meet colleagues from various disciplines.

Visit the Research Week Call for Abstracts page for complete instructions on how to submit. You may also go directly to the submission tool. Abstract submissions are due Tuesday, Mar. 7, 2017. Stay tuned to Research News for updates and information about the agenda, keynote speakers, pre-event skills workshops, and more.

Scholarships available to students presenting posters

A small pool of scholarship money is available for OHSU students who would like to present a poster at Research Week but who don’t have department support for poster printing expenses. Learn more by visiting the Research Week Call for Abstracts page.

Making all the data count for disease diagnosis and discovery

Diagnosing diseases is a tricky business requiring a formidable breadth and depth of knowledge and the skill to apply it. The rarer the disease is, the harder it can be to diagnose: quality reference data may not exist and a physician might only see one such patient in her entire career. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are between 6000 and 7000 rare diseases affecting from 25 to 30 million Americans, making it likely that most, if not all, healthcare professionals have seen these patients in their practice but may not have known it. Oftentimes, a patient with a rare disease gets misdiagnosed as having a more common disease with a similar set of symptoms. In such cases, the misdiagnosis can lead to ineffective, or even harmful treatment; this is a danger even for patients who have rarer forms of a common disease. For a patient living with a rare disease, the mean time to diagnosis is 4.8 years and can take as long as 20 years. Moreover, the patient sees an average of 7.3 physicians during this time.

Melissa Haendel, Ph.D.

Melissa Haendel, Ph.D.

At OHSU, a team of researchers led by Melissa Haendel, Ph.D., associate professor in the Library and in the Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology, recently received two large grants to tackle grand challenges like these. The first grant is from the NIH Office of the Director to support OHSU’s ongoing efforts with the “Monarch Initiative,” and the second is through a novel award mechanism called the “BioMedical Data Translator” from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS). These grants support the creation and application of software tools that combine data from multiple sources to help researchers and physicians accurately diagnose patients and better understand the underlying causes of their illness.

MonarchUsing Monarch funds, Haendel and colleagues will continue their work building a comprehensive database of disease signs and symptoms–linking that information to other types of data including clinical observations, patient genetics, and animal research. Many rare diseases have a suspected genetic cause that is so far unknown. Monarch is integrating data from diverse sources with the goal of uncovering the possible implicated genes which could aid the development of both diagnostics and treatments for patients.

OHSU’s Knight Diagnostic Lab Inherited Disorders group led by Sue Richards, Ph.D., has been using Monarch’s tools to support diagnosis of rare genetic diseases since 2015 with great success. “Whole exome sequencing generates datasets containing over 70,000 genetic variants. These tools have improved the efficiency and ability to find the “needle-in-the-haystack,” said Richards. The use of Monarch resources has ”..ended the diagnostic odyssey for a range of cases from neurological conditions to metabolic disorders.”

The Data Translator project aims to increase the breadth, connectedness, and accessibility of diverse data. One of the core components of the project is a data integration and modeling platform developed by Haendel’s group, described in their paper designated “breakthrough” in the Jan. 4, 2017 edition of Nucleic Acids Research. This freely available software resource has several possible applications: 1) A clinician who has a hard-to-diagnose patient could search for either known diseases with similar symptoms or for animal model research that could aid in the patient’s diagnosis, 2) A patient or researcher interested in learning more about a particular disease’s symptoms and all genes implicated with that disease, and 3) A researcher wanting to learn which  diseases are most similar to the manifestations seen in their model organisms.

“What is really surprising is how when you put data together from many different sources, you fill in knowledge gaps – it really is a story of the sum being greater than the parts with respect to discovering and understanding the causes of disease.” — Melissa Haendel


More about this work. Haendel is a founding member of the Monarch Initiative (established 2012); the cross-disciplinary work of Monarch involves collaboration not only across groups within OHSU, but also with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, The Jackson Laboratory, the University of Pittsburgh, Sanger Institute, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and William Harvey Research Institute, Barts & The London School of Medicine & Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London. A full list of the partnering organizations and the members of the team can be found at https://monarchinitiative.org/page/team. In addition to the Monarch consortium partners above, the NCATS Data Translator project also includes the team members from Johns Hopkins, Scripps Research Institute, Jackson Laboratory, and the Mayo Clinic; together they are combining their data and tools with other NCATS Translator awardees to advance our understanding of the genetic and environmental determinants of disease. Wherever possible, data and software generated by the consortium are open access and open-source; see the Monarch portal at https://monarchinitiative.org for more information.


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Welcome to the Research News Blog

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