APOM Lab Research Associates and Assistants

Zhiping (Jim) Cao, PhD; Senior Research Assistant

Zhiping Cao

Zhiping (Jim) Cao received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Washington State University by studying glutamate receptors, androgen receptors, substance P, and galanin in neural circuits that mediate sexual behaviors.  For his 6 years of postdoctoral research in Dr. Barbara Gordon's laboratory at the University of Oregon, he studied gene expression and regulation of NMDA receptor subunits that are involved in the visual plasticity. 

After 12 years of cardiovascular research in Dr. Donna Van Winkle's laboratory at the Portland VA Medical Center, he joined the Anesthesiology and Perioperative Department in January of 2013. 

When Jim has time, he enjoys fishing, boating, and singing.

Nicole Libal, BS; Senior Research Assistant

Nicole Libal, BS

Nicole Libal is a senior research assistant in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine (APOM). She manages the mouse breeding colonies in APOM’s laboratories and also provides surgical and technical support for ongoing pre-clinical research. She is a registered laboratory animal technician with the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) and was named 2010 Technician of the Year by the Oregon branch of AALAS.

In 2005, Nicole earned her bachelor’s in animal sciences from Oregon State University. When she takes a break from the laboratory, she enjoys reading, gardening, traveling, and camping.

Lijuan (Helen) Liu, DVM; Research Assistant II

Lijuan Liu

Lijuan (Helen) Liu joined the APOM Department in January of 2013. Dr. Liu received her DVM degree in China. Her first job was in Dr. Rongxian Shen's lab.  Dr. Shen is a very famous virologist, who developed the first attenuated lentivirus vaccine in the world.  She was trained in Dr. Akesson's lab at Washington State University (WSU) to perform immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization with rat brain sections. She  then worked in Dr. Ming Hu's lab at WSU to study drug transportation through cell membrane.

Additional, Dr. Liu worked in Dr. Barbara Gordon's lab of University of Oregon by performing immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization,and western Blot, taking care of cell culture of adenovirus.  She helped the lab to make a recombinant adenovirus that carries NR2B antisense that was used to knock down NMDA receptor protein in mouse and rat visual cortex.  

Most recently, Dr. Liu worked in Dr. Donna Van Winkle's lab, studying the mechanisms of cardioprotection induced by opioid peptides and epoxyeicosatrienoic acids.  Specifically, she used cardiomyocytes isolated from adult or neonatal mouse to study signal transduction (PI3K-AKT pathway) transactivated by G protein-coupled receptors (opioid receptors and EGFR receptors). In addition, she also provided service for other laboratory personnel from OHSU in providing basic training for cardiomyocyte isolations and culture.

Sarah Mader, BS; Senior Research Assistant

Sarah Mader, BS

Sarah is a Senior Research Assistant in our department, as well as serving as our Cell Culture Specialist, working directly with Dr. Ines  Koerner and serving the cell culture needs of multiple investigators in our Research Division.  Her responsibilities include primary cell culture, maintaining cell lines, as well as various experiments utilizing products of cell culture. 

Sarah studied biology at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon where she earned the Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2001.  She subsequently accepted a position in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience at OHSU to assist with a study of long-term behavioral patterns in rats addicted to cocaine.  In this role, Sarah gained expertise in histological analysis and in a variety of microtechniques including surgical brain implantation in rats, microinjection, and microdialysis.  Previously in our lab Sarah has served many roles, including offering mouse genotyping services, colony handling and performing small animal surgeries, including the MCAO model.

Sarah lives in wine country with her husband and several pets, including dogs, goats, llamas, a bunny, a cat and even a rat.  When she takes a break from the laboratory, Sarah makes jewelry, reads, and enjoys being outdoors.

Xiao Jing Nie, MS; Senior Research Assistant

Xiao Jing Nie, MS

Xiao Jing Nie began her tenure at Oregon Health & Science University as a Research Assistant in 1998.  She joined the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine in 2004 and is currently a Senior Research Assistant.  She has expertise in a variety of histological techniques.

Jing Nie graduated from the Xuzhou Medical College in China and worked in the Department of Pathology in the Gulou Hospital in Nanjing, China before she moved to Sweden and earned her Master of Science degree in neuropathology at the Uppsala University in 1991.

Jay Phillips, BS; Research Assistant II

Jay Phillips

Jay earned his BS in Biological Sciences at the University of California, Davis.  Since completing his undergraduate studies he has worked in both biotechnology companies and academic laboratories focused on subjects including heterologous protein expression, protein engineering, microbial mechanisms of antibiotic resistance, epigenetic disease markers and clinical molecular diagnostic development. 

Outside of the lab, Jay enjoys drinking too much coffee, chasing his two children around and occasionally dabbling in home beer brewing.

Zu Yuan Qian, PhD; Research Associate

Zu Yuan Qian

Dr. Qian received a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from Xinjiang Agricultural University in 1982 and then taught at there for 6 years.  In 1988 he moved to France, receiving a Master's degree in Microbiology/Genetics from the University of Caen and further pursuing a Doctoral degree in Biochemistry from the University of Paris 7.  Dr. Qian was previously with the Department of Physiology & Pharmacology at OHSU, then joining the Anesthesiolgy and Perioperative Medicine Department in January 2013. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family, hiking and traveling.

Douglas Zeppenfeld, BS; Research Assistant II


After receiving his B.S. in Neuroscience at the University of Rochester in 2011, Doug Zeppenfeld worked in the glial division of the Center for Translation Neuromedicine at Rochester under Maiken Nedergaard.He became a skilled at two-photon microscopist while studying glial-neuronal interactions, blood flow regulation, and microglia dynamics.

He joined the APOM team in May, 2013 under the tutelage of Dr. Jeffery Iliff to investigate vascular dysfunction after brain insult and neurodegeneration.He is also working to establish and operate the in vivo imaging core within the department in addition to providing surgical support for all imaging. When not in lab, Doug is a board game geek, a theatre enthusiast, and an avid hiker.

Wenri Zhang, MD, PhD; Senior Research Associate

Wenri Zhang, MD, PhD

In July 2007, Dr. Wenri Zhang accepted an appointment as Senior Research Associate in the Research Division of the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine.  Over the past several years, his research has been focused on gender-related outcomes of cerebral ischemia/reperfusion and, more specifically, the associated molecular mechanisms of neuroprotection, vascular biology, microcirculation, neurogenesis, and neurostereology.

In 1996, Dr. Zhang graduated from the YanBian University School of Medicine in JiLin, China.  After completing a residency in General Surgery, he entered the Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine and Dentistry in Japan where he earned the PhD in Neuroscience in 2003.

When he is away from the lab, Dr. Zhang enjoys running, playing soccer, and reading.