The Vollum comprises a vibrant and diverse scientific community focused on understanding fundamental biological mechanisms. Learn about our faculty & labs
The Vollum Institute is a privately endowed research institute at Oregon Health & Science University dedicated to basic research that will lead to new treatments for neurological and psychiatric diseases. Vollum scientists have broad-ranging interests that coalesce around molecular neurobiology and cellular physiology. Their work has transformed the field of neuroscience and, in particular, have provided important advances in the study of synaptic transmission, neuronal development, neurotransmitter transporters, ion channels and the neurobiology of disease.
Researchers in Eric Gouaux's lab (Steven E. Mansoor, Wei Lü, and Wout Oosterheert) along with collaborators (Emad Tajkhorshid and Mrinal Shekhar) have solved the structures of each of the iconic conformational states of the human P2X3 receptor, giving novel insight into the mechanisms of receptor activation, desensitization and antagonism. This receptor is a non-selective cation channel that belongs to a family of purinergic receptors which are known to play important roles in cardiovascular, neuronal and immune systems. The article was published online, September 14, 2016, in the journal Nature.
Read the OHSU news release
A group led by Lulu Cambronne in Richard Goodman's lab developed a NAD+ biosensor. This sensor was used to show how the different cellular compartments of NAD+ relate to one another, and suggested how NAD+ gets into the mitochondria where it can participate in metabolic processes. The article was published June 17, 2016 in the journal Science.
Learn more about the NAD+ biosensor
X-ray structures define human P2X3 receptor gating cycle and antagonist action
Steven E. Mansoor, Wei Lü, Wout Oosterheert, Mrinal Shekhar, Emad Tajkhorshid, Eric Gouaux
Nature, 2016 Sep 14;538(7623):66-71
Biosensor reveals multiple sources for mitochondrial NAD+.
Xiaolu A. Cambronne, Melissa L. Stewart, Dongho Kim, Amber M. Jones-Brunette, Rory K. Morgan, David L. Farrens, Michael S. Cohen, Richard H. Goodman
Science, 2016 Jun 17;352(6292):1474-1477
Timothy S. Balmer, Laurence O. Trussell
Neuron, 2016 May 18;90(4):667-669
Meet the New Director
Marc R. Freeman, Ph.D., has been selected as the new director of the Vollum Institute. He joined OHSU in July 2016. For more on Dr. Freeman and his scientific research, visit his faculty page.
About Dr. Freeman's research
Glia cells: Glia are cells in the brain that were long thought to be "helpers" that support neurons to perform their functions. Dr. Freeman has shown that the most predominant and least-studied glial cell, the star-shaped astrocyte, is essential to the brain's signaling network and allows for many complex behavioral outputs. His research has shown that neuromodulators, a messenger that regulates a diverse group of neurons, function not only through neurons, but signal through astrocytes as well. Currently, his research explores how neurons and glia cells communicate with one another so the nervous system runs smoothly and how their dysfunction can result in neurological disease.
Axon degeneration: Axons, slender nerve fibers, must remain intact to function, and, in cases of injury or disease, they break. His research team exploited the unique set of genetic tools available in fruit flies to label specific subsets of neurons in the intact animal, cut axons to induce degeneration, and then systematically broke each gene in the fly genome to determine which were required to promote axon destruction. They discovered that when dSarm/Sarm1 was deleted it completely blocked axon degeneration, and went on to show the same was true in mice and human cell lines. Remarkably, Freeman and colleagues have recently found that blocking the Sarm1 pathway alleviates nearly all pathological effects of traumatic brain injury in mice, and other labs have implicated Sarm1 signaling in peripheral neuropathy. These findings indicate that if researchers can find a way to block the genes that drive degeneration after injury—something Freeman's lab is currently pursuing—there's an opportunity to save the nervous system from degeneration in many cases of injury or neurodegenerative disease.
Listen to an interview with Dr. Freeman on Jefferson Public Radio