Oregon Researchers Recognized for Outstanding Leadership, Scientific Contributions

12/04/02    Portland, Ore.

Medical Research Foundation of Oregon honors scientists and educators from Oregon Health & Science University, University of Oregon, and Reed College with Mentor and Discovery Awards.

The Medical Research Foundation of Oregon, an affiliate of the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation, has announced the winners of the 2002 MRF Mentor and Discovery Awards.

Kathleen Potempa, R.N., D.N.Sc., F.A.A.N., vice president of nursing affairs and dean, OHSU School of Nursing, has been honored with a Mentor Award for her outstanding leadership in nursing research and education at the local, state and national levels. As a member of the Oregon Nurse Leadership Council, Potempa has worked to devise a long-term solution to the impending nursing shortage. Through her work on the OHSU School of Nursing's development council, she played a key role in establishing the Rural Nursing Excellence Fund, which provides assistance for rural nursing students, supports community clinics, and ensures health care accessibility statewide. In addition, she has mentored others to take leadership positions in the areas of research, educational programs, organizational development and health policy.

Laurens Ruben, Ph.D., professor emeritus, Department of Biology, Reed College, has been honored with a Mentor Award for his leadership of Reed's biology department and his mentorship of more than 100 students. Under his leadership, the college adopted a research-intensive curriculum that engaged students in research early in their academic careers. The curriculum also limited the number of teaching hours for biology faculty, allowing professors to remain active in the laboratory and to involve undergraduates in their work. Since retiring 10 years ago, Ruben has been an active fund-raiser for the college.

Monte Westerfield, Ph.D., professor, Institute of Neuroscience and Department of Biology, University of Oregon, has been honored with a Discovery Award for his role in establishing the zebrafish as a vertebrate model system for study developmental biology. His work to create an International Zebrafish Resource Center on the University of Oregon campus has helped focus national and international attention on biosciences research in Oregon. Westerfield has also published pioneering research in nervous system and muscle development.

The Medical Research Foundation of Oregon was founded in 1942 with a mission to promote the growth and development of biomedical research in Oregon in order to improve the health and well-being of humankind. The MRF created the Discovery Award in 1984 and the Mentor Award in 1986. Assets of the MRF are managed by the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation, which also administers its award process. The foundation awards approximately $1 million a year for new research projects initiated by Oregon scientists.

The 2002 Mentor and Discovery Awards were presented on Dec. 2, 2002. This year's recipients will receive a cash award of $5,000 and a commemorative crystal plaque.