OHSU

Scientific Achievements

Vollum scientists were the first to discover…

  • that the REST/coREST pathway determines whether a cell becomes a neuron, establishing that transcriptional repression serves as a gatekeeper of the neuronal phenotype
  • the CREB binding protein, CBP, the first example of a transcriptional coactivator in metazoan organisms
  • a microRNA pathway that amplifies the difference between neuronal and non-neuronal cells during development
  • that reversal of a glial defect corrects symptoms of Rett syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder of young girls related to autism
  • the concentration of the neurotransmitter, glutamate, within the synaptic cleft
  • multivesicular release of neurotransmitters at individual synapses
  • the magnesium block and calcium permeability of NMDA receptors, a core component of synaptic modulation
  • crystal structures of glutamate receptors and transporters for glutamate and biogenic amines, uncovering new principles of receptor and transporter subunit organization and function. These studies revealed novel mechanisms of action of therapeutic agents, such as antidepressants
  • the structure of the acid sensing ion channel, a component of pain-sensing pathways and possible target for drugs designed for treatment of stroke
  • fundamental aspects of endo- and exocytosis, including the fusion pore as the transition state preceding full fusion of secretory vesicles. These studies lead to the first light microscopic imaging of single synaptic vesicles
  • a model in zebrafish for the human muscle disease, myasthenic syndrome
  • small conductance, calcium activated potassium (SK) channels in mammalian brain, leading to the characterization of calmodulin as the SK calcium sensor and the identification of a calcium-mediated negative feedback loop between SK channels and NMDA receptors in dendritic spines
  • PACS1 as a cytosolic sorting protein required for trans-Golgi network localization. This pathway was later shown to be important for intracellular trafficking of  proteins involved in HIV infection
  • involvement of unconventional myosins and cadherin 23 in sensory mechanotransduction in hair cells of the inner ear

 

RECENT FACULTY HONORS AND AWARDS

  • Eric Gouaux, PhD: Awarded honorary doctorate by the University of Copenhagen, 2014