Oregon Researchers Recognized For Outstanding Leadership, Scientific Contributions

12/02/04    Portland, Ore.

Medical Research Foundation of Oregon honors local scientists and educators with Mentor, Discovery Awards.

The Medical Research Foundation of Oregon (MRF), an affiliate of the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation, today announced winners of the 2004 MRF Mentor and Discovery Awards. Three Oregon researchers were honored for their leadership and for exceptional work initiated in Oregon.

P. Michael Conn, Ph.D., has been honored with a 2004 Discovery Award. Conn is associate director and a senior scientist at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, a professor of physiology and pharmacology, and cell and developmental biology in the OHSU School of Medicine, and serves as a special assistant to OHSU President Peter Kohler, M.D. In work conducted during the last four years, Conn and his team have identified an underlying biological principle that has dramatically changed scientists' understanding of cellular mutations that result in human disease. He has demonstrated that it is possible to manipulate and redirect the routing of functional proteins, providing new therapeutic approaches to a range of diseases, including cystic fibrosis, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and cataracts. Conn is also an outspoken advocate for the ethical and humane treatment of animals in research.

Cynthia Morris, Ph.D., M.P.H., has been honored with a 2004 Mentor Award. Professor and vice chairwoman of the Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology in the OHSU School of Medicine, Morris has been named an asset to the Oregon scientific community for her outstanding work as a mentor. In 2000 Morris developed an innovative graduate program offering formal training in patient-oriented research for fellows and faculty at OHSU and in the community. Through directorship of this program and close interaction with medical students and early-career clinical researchers, she has helped numerous young professionals achieve research independence and develop successful careers. Morris also serves as assistant dean of admissions in the School of Medicine, where she has helped develop strategies to evaluate applicants based on non-cognitive factors such as motivation, communication skills and emotional maturity.

James White, Ph.D., has been honored with a 2004 Discovery Award. A distinguished professor emeritus at Oregon State University, White is an internationally recognized research scientist in the field of synthetic organic chemistry. His work is in the synthesis of biologically active compounds found in nature, where he has demonstrated pathways for the construction of 45 natural products of complex molecular structure. His recent research involves new approaches for the synthesis of products from the marine environment, an area with broad application for pharmaceutical 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 administers its award process. The MRF Foundation awards approximately $1 million a year for new research projects initiated by Oregon scientists.

The 2004 Mentor and Discovery Awards were presented at a reception on Nov. 29, 2004, at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland, Ore. This year's recipients will receive a cash award of $5,000 and a commemorative crystal plaque.