Research

ResearchAs the state's only health and research university, OHSU brings together education, research, patient care and community service. While each component has its own individual goals and mission, all of them are bound together by a common vision - to improve the well-being of Oregonians.

New discoveries and treatments at OHSU are creating hope for millions of people who cope with neurological problems that affect how they interact with the world. Detailed in this research section of the web site you will find how unique basic and clinical research at OHSU is contributing to enhance, improve and advance neurosurgical outcomes for patients.

Research in the Department of Neurological Surgery is headed by Mary M. Heinricher, Ph.D., whose work on how the brain controls pain is internationally recognized. Investigators in the Department study brain disorders in the laboratory and at the bedside.

Summary of Basic Research Studies (by investigator)

  • Mary M. Heinricher, PhD, Professor: brainstem mechanisms involved in pain modulation. The focus is on opioid-sensitive circuits within the rostral ventral medulla, which is a crucial element in a pain-modulating network with links in the midbrain, medulla and spinal cord.
  • Susan Ingram Osborn, PhD, Associate Professor: understanding neuronal mechanisms of synaptic plasticity involved in pain and drug addiction circuits.
  • Minghua Li, PhD, Research Assistant Professor: during stroke/brain ischemia, extracellular pH can drop to ~6.2; in hyperglycemic animals, extracellular pH can drop to below 6.0. Acidosis is therefore a common feature of ischemia and is known to play a critical role in brain injury but the mechanisms remained ill defined.
  • Chris Madden, PhD, Research Assistant Professor: understanding the detailed functional organization of the central neural circuits regulating metabolism, glucose homeostasis, cardiovascular function, and thermogenesis and how alterations in this regulation contribute to the pathology of disease.
  • Shaun Morrsion, PhD, Professor: uses electrophysiological and anatomical approaches to understand the functional organization, rhythmicities, developmental influences and pharmacology of the CNS circuits that regulate the sympathetic outflows controlling variables critical for homeostasis such as body temperature, energy expenditure, blood glucose, blood pressure, cardiac output and plasma catecholamines.
  • Dominico Tupone, PhD, Instructor:  understanding (a) the intersection of CNS circuits regulating body temperature and sleep-wake state, (b) the CNS mechanisms responsible for alterations in thermoregulation and sleep-wake state during hibernation and torpor-like states, and (c) the application of this framework to the induction of therapeutic hypothermia, particularly related to improving outcomes in models of ischemic injury.

Summary of Clinical research studies (by condition)

  • Pain: surgical treatments for trigeminal neuralgia.
  • Epilepsy: surgical treatments for epilepsy.
  • Movement disorders: clinical studies of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for tremor associated with Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders, e.g asleep vs. awake DBS
  • Brain tumors: improved surgical treatments for adult and pediatric brain tumors.
  • Clinical studies of therapies for Cushing's disease; growth hormone and testosterone therapy for panhypopituitary tumors.
  • Chiari malformation: development of pediatric guidelines.
  • Interventional neuroradiology as a minimally invasive approach in the treatment of diseases of the brain and spine.
  • Spine: patient outcomes.