cohen lab page



Lab Members

Dr. Ian Carter-O’Connell


PhD, Harvard University

After obtaining my undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the Colorado College, I decided to pursue a PhD training program at Harvard University. During the course of my graduate studies in the O'Shea lab, I had the opportunity to examine the role of the phosphate-starvation response (PHO) in yeast from a number of different perspectives. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, regulation of the PHO response occurs through a cyclin-dependent kinase-cyclin pair, Pho80-Pho85. Using a crystal structure provided by a collaborator I identified a set of residues that, when mutated, abrogate kinase specificity at the substrate binding cleft as well as a distal region believed to confer processivity. I then expanded my interest in environmental stress to the genome level in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Using a combination of microarrays, high-throughput sequencing, and biochemistry I characterized the phosphate-starvation response mediated by the novel transcription factor Pho7. This led to a new understanding of how two distantly related species use divergent transcriptional regulation to achieve similar homeostatic balance. My graduate studies led me to question how organisms can utilize a single post-translational modification to produce multifaceted, global shifts in cellular machinery. I think the expanding field of ADP-ribosylation provides an excellent opportunity to address this question. My current work in the Cohen lab is focused on defining the family-member specific protein targets for each of the 17 ADP-ribosyltransferases (ARTDs or PARPs) using structure-guided enzyme engineering, chemical synthesis of novel NAD+ analogues, and proteomics. Starting from this global perspective, I will leverage my background in biochemistry, structural biology, and molecular biology to tease apart the specific function for each PARP family-member in both normal physiology and disease (cancer progression, neurodegeneration). Outside the lab, I have fully succombed to the influence of Portland; spending time camping, brewing, baking, and pickling.

Dr. Jeffrey Huang


PhD, Rosalind Franklin University/Chicago Medical School


I received my bachelor degree in molecular and cell biology (neurobiology emphasis) from the University of California, Berkeley. Following my undergraduate studies, I worked as a lab technician in academia-Hepatitis C virology lab at the University of Southern California-and in industry. My interest in neurodegenerative disorders and molecular biology/virology led me to pursue a PhD in neuroscience at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science. My doctoral research focused on the role of human neprilysin 2 (NEP2) in Alzheimer’s disease. My work characterized the in vitro β-amyloid degrading properties of NEP2, alterations in NEP2 mRNA and enzymatic activity in Alzheimer’s brain tissue, and the therapeutic potential of lentiviral NEP2 gene therapy. After receiving my doctorate, I joined the Cohen lab to examine the role of ADP-ribosyltransferases (ARTs or PARPs) on learning and memory and in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders. I am especially interested in applying my background in molecular biology and behavioral neuroscience to investigating the effects of ART/PARP-specific inhibitors. Outside the lab, my personal interests include archaeology, the history and statistics of baseball, and investing in the stock market.

Rory Morgan


MS, University of Oregon

I was born and raised in Canby, OR, a small town just south of Portland.  Although I grew up on a cattle farm and was involved in all things agricultural throughout high school, I chose a different path when I attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA to pursue a degree in biochemistry.  I conducted undergraduate research on parasitic metabolism elucidation to aid in the development of antiparasitic therapeutics.  Upon graduation in 2007, I debated graduate school and an industrial position, but found a balance in the Master's Industrial Internship Program in Organic Synthesis at University of Oregon, where I completed a MS degree in chemistry and a nine-month internship at the pharmaceutical research company Bend Research, Inc. in Bend, OR.  My internship progressed into a permanent position as a Research Chemist, where I was employed from 2008-2012, researching a variety of projects centered around drug delivery technologies.  With the realization that I was more interested in the early stages of drug development, I enrolled in the PMCB graduate program at OHSU in 2012 to pursue chemical biology research.  With my chemistry background, I joined the lab of Dr. Michael Cohen to investigate the biological role of the post-translational modification known as ADP-ribosylation using rationally designed chemical probes and chemical genetic strategies.  Upon completion of my doctoral studies, I hope to find a postdoctoral position to aid in my transition back to industry to pursue drug discovery research.