News & Events

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Three Questions for Melanie Gillingham, PhD, RDMelanie Gillingham, PhD, RD

Melanie Gillingham, PhD, RD, is an associate professor of medical and molecular genetics, as well as the director of the Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition program. The Three Questions series features OHSU School of Medicine faculty members talking about their work with the goal of getting to know them and different areas across the school.

 

What's been the most interesting development in your area in the last two years?

My laboratory has been investigating novel treatments for patients with Fatty Acid Oxidation Disorders, inherited disorders that affect their ability to burn fat in food for energy. Patients suffer from recurrent episodes of severe muscle pain and rhabdomyolysis with or without cardiac involvement. Despite the devastating consequences of these diseases, no patient with a long-chain fatty acid oxidation disorder has developed insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. We have preliminary evidence that having a defect in the long-chain fatty acid oxidation pathway may in fact protect them from developing insulin resistance. If this is true, we may discover some key element of cellular metabolism that could help develop new approaches for treating insulin resistance.

What projects are you currently working on and are there opportunities for fellow faculty to participate?

Dr. Jon Purnell and I were recently awarded a multi-PI R01 to test if patients with long-chain fatty acid oxidation disorders are protected from developing insulin resistance. This is truly a collaborative project. My team from the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics will be recruiting subjects with a fatty acid oxidation disorder and age and sex matched controls. Dr. Purnell's group and OCTRI's Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) will be conducting hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamps to measure insulin sensitivity in vivo and muscle and fat biopsies to measure insulin sensitivity in vitro. Dr. Charles Roberts and Oleg Varlamov at the ONPRC will be measuring the insulin-signaling cascade in the biopsy samples. Changes in tissue lipid deposition will be measuring in the AIRC. We are very excited about this project. Ancillary studies from fellow faculty that look at additional aspects of metabolism in this unique population would be of interest.

What is the most important aspect of support that OHSU provides to you currently and how would you like this or other support to grow in the future?

One of the essential areas of support for human subjects research at OHSU has been the CTRC. The ability to have a research-focused nurse, bionutritionist and a unit dedicated to research makes complicated human studies such as this one possible. This could not be conducted on a regular hospital floor. In addition, the Advanced Imaging Research Center has been a very powerful tool to measure lipid deposition and metabolism in vivo. The Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics has been very supportive of all aspects of my research from office and lab space to admin support to great collaborators and colleagues.

This article was originally published on the Inside the School of Medicine Blog on 3/20/15.

 

Dietetic Interns Assist in Ban of Sugary Drinks

Students in the OHSU Graduate Programs in Human Nutrition recently contributed to a project that has made headlines across the state: Providence Health & Services' decision to no longer offer sugary drinks for sale. Dietetic interns Emily Fisher, Tiffany Gota, and Kim Kelsey worked behind-the-scenes to develop, implement, and evaluate nutrition education materials that facilitate healthy decision making for Providence's "Rethink Your Drink" campaign as part of their community outreach project. The student teamed up with their project mentors—Sandy Miller, MS, RDN, and recent OHSU graduate Sareena Smith-Bucholz, RD—to educate Providence employees about diet beverages, sugar content in coffee beverages, and Providence's new nutrition labels.

Leadership plays a large part in the Community Outreach concentration in the Dietetic Internship, which allows students to strengthen their knowledge and work on core competencies while addressing a nutrition need in the community. Before and after graduation, our students are making a positive impact in Oregon.

Learn about more our community outreach projects.

 

Dietetic Intern Emily Blachly interviews OHSU chef and local grower behind OHSU's Permaculture Garden

A garden in our own backyard? Did you know that OHSU has set up a permaculture garden behind Mac Hall? This is a project between the Food and Nutrition Department, particularly the Executive Chef, Fernando Divina and a local permaculturist, Chad Roberts. Emily Blachly, Class of 2013, conducted an interview with the chef and the grower. Read the article and please, visit the garden.

Look for pictures on the Farmers Market Facebook Fanpage every so often to watch its progression. 

 

Dietetic Intern from the GPHN Class of 2013 highlighted on local website

Class of 2013 graduate Ashley Klees was selected for a feature article on a popular Portland website that highlights dietitians from the Portland area. Her article was published in June 2013 and can be viewed at PortlandRD.com

 

In the U.S.

Recent GPHN Graduate serves up a healthy holiday pie on the Today show

Joy Bauer, a dietitian who is a regular on the Today show, asked viewers to share their diet-friendly dessert recipes for our "Too Good To Be Health" competition. Class of 2013 graduate Megan Fuetterer, RD, was selected as a finalist with her pumpkin pie recipe. Megan was invited to appear on the Today show for the final tasting on December 18th. See the video

 

Around the World

GPHN partners with Medical Teams International and PREDISAN in Catacamas, Honduras

Class of 2009 graduates Svetlana Zubkova, Sarah Bergman and Melissa Kumagai spent a few weeks in Honduras helping rural communities with high rates of childhood under-nutrition. In March of 2009, they traveled with Dr. Diane Stadler, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director of the GPHN, to a remote mountainous area of eastern Honduras to conduct home assessments of high-risk infants. They hiked in to villages every day to measure the height and weight of infants, and trained local health care monitors to accurately measure newborns, interpret these measurements and counsel parents about healthy diets for children. "It was a fantastic way to apply all that I have been taught," said Svetlana.

In March of 2010,  Whitney Ellersick (Class of 2006), Jessica Gutgsell (Class of 2007), and Melissa Kumagai (Class of 2009) trained local community members to plan and prepare nutritious snacks high in iron and vitamin A for children attending elementary school. In addition to recipe development, cooking classes, and taste tests, they taught fun, hands-on, basic health and nutrition concepts to school children.

In March of 2011, class of 2011 graduates Kelly Martin, Emily Kennedy, and Anne Southworth developed and presented lectures and workshops on maternal and infant nutrition to community health providers, pregnant women, and to mothers with young children. The focus of the presentations were on preventing childhood malnutrition and treating acute dehydration.

Yoga session in Honduras
Emily, Kelly, and Danielle in Honduras