Zhenzhen Zhang, PhD, MPH, MMed

Headshot for Dr. Zhenzhen Zhang

Assistant Professor

Division of Oncological Sciences, Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 10/2019-09/2022

Primary mentor: Jackie Shannon, PhD, MPH

Mentors: Tomi Mori, PhD, MS, MBA; Pepper Schedin, PhD; Raymond Bergan, MD; Shannon McWeeney, PhD, MS; Thomas Sharpton, PhD

Dr. Zhenzhen Zhang is a cancer epidemiologist and has extensive experience conducting molecular epidemiological studies and biostatistical data analyses. As a BIRCWH scholar, Dr. Zhang's project aimed to understand the relationship between dietary inflammatory potential and the risk of interval breast cancer. Additionally, Dr. Zhang examined the differences in the gut microbiome in association with breast cancer risk and their associations with dietary inflammatory potential. Dr. Zhang’s long-term career goal is to become a leader in aggressive type of cancer research such as young-onset breast cancer and an independent investigator working to develop strategies to reduce the risk and mortality of aggressive type of cancer.

Project title: Inflammatory Diet, Microbiome and Interval Breast Cancer

Learn more about Zhenzhen

Julia Goodman, PhD, MPH

Julia Goodman, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor

OHSU-PSU School of Public Health

Appointed: 10/2020-09/2022

Primary Mentors: Jeanne-Marie Guise, MD, MPH; Erika Cottrell, PhD, MPP

Mentors: Shannon McWeeney, PhD; William H. Dow, PhD

Dr. Julia Goodman is an Associate Professor in the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health studying work-related determinants of maternal and child health. Dr. Goodman’s BIRCWH project focused on understanding how health systems can identify and address work-related barriers to care among low-income pregnant people. Dr. Goodman’s long-term career goal is to become a leader in women’s health research and an independent investigator working to develop and implement strategies addressing work-related barriers to maternal and child health and healthcare utilization.

Project Title: Identifying and Addressing Work-Related Determinants of Maternal and Child Health

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Jae Downing, PhD

Headshot for Dr. Jae Downing

Assistant Professor

OHSU-PSU School of Public Health

Appointed: 7/1/2020 - 06/30/2021

Primary Mentor: John McConnell, PhD

Mentors: Dennis McCarty, PhD; Paula Carder, PhD

Dr. Jae Downing is an Assistant Professor in the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health studying the health of transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) individuals. Dr. Downing's BIRCWH project centers on providing a greater understanding of potential patient-level barriers to accessing gender affirming care, and their relationship with substance use disorders among TGNC individuals in Oregon's Medicaid program. Dr. Downing's long-term goals focus on becoming an independent investigator focused on advancing the health of TGNC people.

Project title: Substance Use and Gender-Affirming Care in Oregon's Medicaid Program

Learn more about Jae

Elise Erickson, PhD, CNM

Elise Erickson, PhD, CNM

Assistant Professor

School of Nursing, Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 7/1/18 - 6/30/20

Primary mentor: Leslie Myatt, PhD, FRCOG

Mentors: Lucia Carbone, PhD; Nathan Dieckmann, PhD; Jessica Connelly, PhD; Melissa Cheyney, PhD

Dr. Elise Erickson is a practicing Nurse-Midwife studying the relationship between postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) and oxytocin, a neuroendocrine hormone. In her BIRCWH project, Dr. Erickson aims to further the knowledge of factors influencing childbearing women's risk for PPH, which is a significant and complex problem that affects families around the world. Dr. Erickson aims to improve our ability to understand causes of abnormal uterine contractility in the postpartum period and create personalized preventive strategies for PPH. Dr. Erickson's overall career goal is to become an independent nurse-midwife scientist.

Project title: Postpartum Hemorrhage and Oxytocin - Clinical and Epigenetic Contributions to Risk

Learn more about Elise

Quin Denfeld, PhD, RN, FAHA, FHFSA

Quin Denfeld

Associate Professor

School of Nursing, Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 10/1/17 - 9/30/20

Primary mentor: Beth Habecker, PhD

Mentors: Kerri Winters-Stone, PhD; Christopher Lee, PhD, RN; James Mudd, MD; Jonathan Purnell, MD

Dr. Quin Denfeld is a nurse-scientist investigating gender differences in physical frailty in heart failure. Dr. Denfeld's BIRCWH project specifically seeks to examine how gender differences factor into the association between physical frailty and both the underlying mechanisms and clinical outcomes of heart failure. Dr. Denfeld's overall research goals focus on improving quality of life in heart failure patients by using her findings to guide and improve clinical management.

Project title: Gender-Associated Differences in Physical Frailty Phenotypes in Heart Failure (GAP-FRAIL-HF)

Learn more about Quin

Michael Shapiro, DO

Michael Shapiro, DO

Associate Professor

Medicine and Radiology, Knight Cardiovascular Institute, Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 10/2018-05/2019

Primary mentor: Sergio Fazio, MD, PhD

Mentors: Vera Bittner, MD; David Maron, MD

Dr.  Michael Shapiro is director of OHSU's Cardiac MRI and CT program and is board certified in Cardiology, Cardiovascular CT(imaging), and Lipidology (cholesterol). His project focuses on understanding mechanisms of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) and gender. Specifically, he is looking at gender differences in the effect of Proprotein Convertase Subtilisin/Kexin type 9 (PCSK9i) on lowering low-density lipoproteincholesterol (LDL-C). His career goal is to establish a research program that provides improved understanding of the mechanisms mediating sex differences inresponse to preventive therapies.

Project title: Gender Influences on Lipoprotein Metabolism and Response to PCSK9 Inhibition

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Ellen Tilden, PhD,CNM

Ellen Tilden, PhD, CNM

Assistant Professor

School of Nursing, Nurse-Midwifery, Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 10/2015-09/2018

Primary mentor: Christopher Lee, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN

Mentors: Aaron Caughey, MD, PhD; Jonathan Snowden, PhD; Nancy Lowe, PhD, CNM, FAAN, FACNM; David Yanez, PhD

Dr. Ellen Tilden is a practicing Nurse-Midwife studying the effect of prenatal care modality on labor and perinatal outcomes. The core research aims of Dr. Tilden's BIRCWH project were to improve understanding of the optimal prenatal care approach for healthy women, provide insight to how women's perceptions and feelings may change during pregnancy, and show how these changes may importantly relate to perinatal and early postpartum outcomes of interest.

Project title: Impact of prenatal care modality on women's preparation for labor and perinatal outcomes

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Lisa Karstens, PhD

Lisa Karstens, PhD

Assistant Professor, Medical Informatics & Clinical

Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 01/2016-05/2018

Primary Mentor: Shannon McWeeney, PhD   

Mentors: Thomas Gregory, MD; Damien Fair, PhD; Jim Rosenbaum, MD; Jonathan Braun, MD; Alan Wolfe, PhD

Project Title: The urinary microbiome in health and disease

Dr. Lisa Karstens has a unique background in bioinformatics, chemistry, and computational biology. Her project involved investigating gender differences in the role of the urinary microbiome and disease, with specific regards to Overactive Bladder Syndrome (OAB) and its underlying pathophysiology. Dr. Karstens' long-term goals focus on understanding the heterogeneity of OAB and how bacteria and the brain may contribute to OAB. In June 2018, Dr. Karstens received her 4-year K01 award, titled "Functional Considerations of the Urinary Microbiome in Overactive Bladder", based on her BIRCWH work.

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Laura Villasana, PhD

Laura Villasana, PhD

Assistant Professor, Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine

Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 10/2015-09/2017

Primary Mentor: Nabil Alkayed, MD, PhD  

Mentors: Eric Schnell, MD, PhD; Julie Saugstad, PhD; Holly Hinson, MD

Project Title: The role of sex on long-term changes in hippocampal neurogenesis after traumatic brain injury

Dr. Laura Villasana is a neuroscientist researcher investigating gender differences in neural recovery following Traumatic Brain Injury using molecular and behavioral approaches. Specifically, Dr. Villasana is interested in determining whether new neurons generated in response to traumatic brain injury (TBI) help or hinder cognitive recovery.

Dr. Villasana's BIRCWH project investigated whether an accelerated loss of stem cells in females and subsequent reductions in neurogenesis contributes to the development of cognitive impairments long after brain injury and whether these impairments can be prevented or mitigated.

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Katie Schenning, MD, MPH

Katie Schenning, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor, Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine  

Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 01/2015-07/2017

Primary Mentor: Joseph Quinn, MD

Mentors: Nabil Alkayed, MD, PhD; Ansgar Brambrink, MD, PhD; Jacob Raber, PhD; Miriam Treggiari, MD, PhD

Project Title: Influence of Sex and Genetics on Postoperative Cognitive and Functional Decline

Dr. Katie Schenning is an anesthesiologist whose primary research focus centers on perioperative cognition. Her recent work uses preoperative cognitive and frailty screening tests to predict deleterious postoperative neurocognitive outcomes, such as postoperative delirium and cognitive dysfunction.

Dr. Schenning’s BIRCWH project investigated the interaction between general anesthesia and surgery, sex, genetic variables, and dementia in the aged. In 2018, Dr. Schenning received her R03 award, titled, “The Role of Alzheimer’s Risk Factors in Cognitive Decline after Spine Surgery”, which is predicated on her prior BIRCWH work. 

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Laura Newell, MD

Laura Newell, MD

Assistant Professor, Division of Hematology/Medical Oncology, Knight Cancer Institute

Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 01/2014-12/2015

Primary Mentor: Grover Bagby, MD    

Mentors: Leonardo Pereira, MD, MCR; Jeffrey Tyner, PhD; Irina Burd, MD, PhD

Project Title: PIGF Enhances Viral-Induced Innate Immune Inflammatory Responses in Human Mononuclear Phagocytes; a Potential Mechanism for Virus Related Morbidity and Mortality in Pregnancy

Dr. Laura Newell is a hematologist and hematopoietic stem cell transplant physician interested in responses of the innate immune system and inflammatory cytokine signaling pathways. As a BIRCWH Scholar, she investigated the role of the innate immune system in driving pathologic inflammatory responses to viral infections during pregnancy that may contribute to excessive fetal and maternal morbidity and mortality. Her goal was to pursue clinical investigation of novel, targeted therapies specifically for women with viral infections and post-viral inflammatory complications during pregnancy. In 2017, Dr. Newell received her 4-year K23 award, titled, "Infectious Events in Pregnancy: PLGF Contributes to Maternal Morbidity", which is based on her prior BIRCWH work.

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Ganesh Cherala, PhD

Ganesh Cherala, PhD

Associate Director, Clinical Pharmacology

BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Inc.

Appointed: 01/2013-12/2014

Primary Mentor: Kent Thornburg, PhD    

Mentors: Mitchell Turker, PhD, JD; Alison Edelman, MD, MPH; George Giraud, MD, PhD

Project Title: Prenatal Growth Programs Oral Contraceptive Metabolism and Effectiveness

One of the keys to develop successful personalized medicine lies with better understanding of various sources of inter-individual variability in pharmacokinetics. Dr. Ganesh Cherala undertook multidisciplinary research to understand the contribution of intrauterine growth restriction towards inter-individual variability of drug response. The BIRCWH grant application was a continuation of those efforts, which integrated intrauterine growth restriction and adulthood obesity, and their combined effect on failure of oral contraception.  

Learn more about Ganesh

Shernan Holtan, MD

Shernan Holtan, MD

Assistant Professor, Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation

University of Minnesota

Appointed: 01/2013-12/2013

Primary Mentor: Grover Bagby, MD    

Mentors: Richard Maziarz, MD; Leonardo Pereira, MD, MCR; Svetomir Markovic, MD, PhD

Project Title: Regulation of Tolerance in Pregnancy and Graft-Versus-Host Disease

Dr. Shernan Holtan is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology, Oncology, and Transplantation, where she serves as a hematologist focusing on allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation for malignant and non-malignant diseases, melanoma, and long-term survivorship.

Dr. Holtan completed longitudinal analyses of the maternal immune response to pregnancy in two Mayo Clinic cohorts. Through these analyses, she identified the maternal immune response to pregnancy as at least a biphasic phenomenon, with the onset of pregnancy associated with tolerance induction, and later pregnancy associated with immune reconstitution/inflammation. In studying direct effects of angiogenic hormones on immune cells, she co-discovered a synergistic inflammatory relationship of placental growth factor with certain pathogen-associated molecular patterns, during her time as a BIRCWH scholar. 

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Jing Xu, PhD

Jing Xu, PhD

Assistant Professor, Reproductive Endocrinology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and the Oregon National Primate Research Center

Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 10/2012-07/2015

Primary Mentor: Richard Stouffer, PhD    

Mentors: Mary Zelinski, PhD; Betsy Ferguson, PhD; Tanja Pejovic, MD

Project Title: Anti-Müllerian and fertility preservation

Dr. Jing Xu is interested in studying the mechanisms and regulation of ovarian folliculogenesis, as well as endocrine/paracrine pathways that influence follicular development and oocyte maturation in primates. Her BIRCWH research made translational efforts on human in vitro follicle maturation that offered a means to enhance fertility options for women, including female cancer patients. Dr. Xu's long-term goal is to build an independent program in biomedical research which can be translated to clinical use to improve or control fertility, and hence women's health. In July 2015, Dr. Xu was awarded an R01 grant titled, “AMH Actions to Control Primate Folliculogenesis,” based on her BIRCWH research.

Learn more about Jing Xu

Janne Boone-Heinonen, PhD, MPH

Janne Boone-Heinonen, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor & Program Director for MPH in Epidemiology

OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 10/2012-09/2015

Primary Mentor: Stephen Fortmann, MD    

Mentors: Kent Thornburg, PhD; Jackilen Shannon, PhD; Dawn Peters, PhD

Project Title: Life Course Impacts on Obesity and Health Disparities: Integration of Perinatal Health

Dr. Janne Boone-Heinonen is an epidemiologist with an overarching interest in social, environmental, and biological factors as drivers of obesity in diverse populations. In ongoing research, she investigates modifiable environmental and behavioral determinants of diet, physical activity, and obesity using complex analytic methods. During her BIRCWH appointment, she developed expertise in biological drivers of obesity that arise in early life, with the goal of developing future research on the extent to which maternal effects on offspring health can be mitigated by healthy diet and physical activity. This research supported her successful K01 application in September 2015, which focuses on understanding processes that can ameliorate the impacts of perinatal exposures on health later in the offspring's life.

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Christine Lee, MD, MS

Christine Lee, MD,MS

Program Director, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases

NIDDK, National Institutes of Health

Appointed: 04/2011-03/2013

Primary Mentor: Eric Orwoll, MD   

Mentors: Marcia Stefanick, PhD

Project Title: Metabolism and Muscle in Older Men and Women

Dr. Christine Lee is a program director of Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases at NIDDK where she conducts research using both clinical observational studies and clinical trials to study (1) the development, diagnosis and medical treatment of type 2 diabetes in adults and (2) the etiology, natural history, diagnosis, and medical treatment of diabetes in older adults (over 65 years).

Dr. Lee served as a Co-Investigator with the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study (MrOS). Her work with the MrOS Study focused on investigating the relationships between insulin resistance and changes in lean mass and physical performance in older men. As part of her BIRCWH study, Dr. Lee extended her studies to cohorts that included older women. Dr. Lee was awarded an over $1 million Veterans Administration career development award in March 2013.

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Christopher Lee, PhD, RN

Christopher Lee, PhD, RN

Associate Dean for Research and Professor  

Connell School of Nursing, Boston College

Appointed: 07/2010-04/2012

Primary Mentor: Anne Rosenfeld, PhD

Mentors: Anthony Kim, MD

Project Title: Gender differences in multi-dimensional symptoms experienced by adults with heart failure

Dr. Christopher Lee is a Professor and the Associate Dean for Research at the Connell School of Nursing. Dr. Lee has dedicated his career to better understanding heart disease, improving long term outcomes for patients and their families.

During his BIRCWH appointment, Dr. Lee’s main goal was to develop an inter-professional team of research scientists to accelerate the rate of research and scholarship, and develop evidence-based interventional strategies to identify at-risk patients and improve health outcomes in persons with chronic cardiovascular disease in general and women in particular. Dr. Lee was awarded an over $1.5 million R01 from the National Institute of Nursing Research in April, 2012.

Learn more about Christopher

Carrie Nielson, PhD, MPH

Carrie Nielson, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor, OHSU-PSU School of Public Health

Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 07/2010-04/2012

Primary Mentor: Eric Orwoll, MD    

Mentors: Robert Klein, MD; William Lambert, PhD; Bruce Weir, PhD; Joseph Zmuda, PhD

Project Title: Rare genetic variants in the alkaline phosphatase gene and osteoporosis

Dr. Carrie Nielson is an epidemiologist with a strong background in quantitative methods and experience with osteoporosis epidemiology and genetic association studies. Her main interests are in the patterns of change in musculoskeletal phenotypes over the course of normal aging and the genetic determinants of these changes. Her BIRCWH work with Drs. Eric Orwoll and Robert Klein focused on understanding how discoveries of genetic associations with BMD in mouse models can be translated to fill gaps in knowledge of the genetic regulation of bone phenotypes in human populations. In April 2012, Dr. Nielson was awarded a 5-year K01 award from the National Institute of Athritis and Muskuloskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

Learn more about Carrie

Rebecca Block, PhD, MSW

Rebecca Block, PhD, MSW

Vice President, Research and Analytics, MNR Analytics

Administrative Core Leader, OCHIN

Appointed: 01/2010-07/2012

Primary Mentor: Lillian Nail, PhD, RN   

Mentors: Patty Carney, PhD; Brandon Hayes-Latin, MD; Karen Eden, PhD; David Lee, MD

Project Title: Fertility decisions among adolescent and young adult women with cancer

Dr. Rebecca Block is Vice President of Research and Analytics at MNR. She is former Director of Community Initiates at Critical Mass: The Young Adult Alliance and Assistant Professor and Psychosocial Research Leader at the Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU. While at OHSU, Dr. Block worked in adolescent and young adult oncology; her research focused on the social and mental health and development in adolescents and young adults with cancer. She was one of a few clinical social workers in oncology with a traditional research doctorate and one of the only oncology social work researchers that addressed needs of adolescents and young adults (AYA) women with cancer. 

Learn more about Rebecca

Terry Morgan, MD, PhD

Terry Morgan, MD, PhD

Professor, Pathology and Obstetrics & Gynecology

Program Director, Cytopathology Fellowship

Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 07/2009-06/2011

Primary Mentor: Kent Thornburg, PhD    

Mentors: Chris Corless, MD, PhD; Robert Waterland, PhD

Project Title: Elevated angiotensinogen expression and fetal programming in mice

Dr. Terry Morgan is a Director of Cytophatology Fellowship and a Professor in the Department of Pathology and Obstetrics & Gynecology at OHSU. His current research interests center on the pathology of pregnancy. Specifically, he is investigating the molecular mechanisms mediating renal blood flow and sodium regulation by the kidney during pregnancy. 

Dr. Morgan focused his BIRCWH research on studying 1) Elevated Angiotensinogen Expression and Fetal Programming in Mice, 2) applying new microbubble imaging to a fetal growth restriction mouse model with exciting results that suggest blood flow to the placenta is faster than controls, and 3) maternal blood pressure studies that showed that transgenic mothers do in fact develop mild pregnancy-induced hypertension. Dr. Morgan has received both R21 and R03 awards from NICHD since 2016.

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Sonnet Jonker, PhD

Sonnet Jonker, PhD

Associate Professor, Knight Cardiovascular Institute and Center for Developmental Health

Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 01/2009-04/2012

Primary Mentor: George Giraud, MD, PhD    

Mentors: Kent Thornburg, PhD; Lowell Davis, MD; Jeffrey Segar, MD

Project Title: Transfusion during pregnancy: Fetal cardiovascular recovery following chronic anemia

Dr. Sonnet Jonker is a NIH-funded investigator at Knight Cardiovascular Institute and the Center for Developmental Health at OHSU where she works closely with cardiovascular development group. The primary focus of her BIRCWH research was centered on cardiovascular adaptations in health and disease in the fetus and mother, including long-term outcomes. In 2019, Dr. Jonker was awarded an R01 titled, “Perinatal cardiomyocyte pruning driven by metabolic maturation: Opportunity for Intervention,” which builds upon her prior BIRCWH research.

Learn more about Sonnet

Beth Darnall, PhD

Beth Darnall, PhD

Clinical Professor, Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Stanford University

Appointed: 01/2008-06/2010

Primary Mentor: Patricia Hurn, PhD    

Mentors: Tonya Palermo, PhD; Heather Zwickey, PhD; David Zava, PhD

Dr. Beth Darnall is Clinical Professor at Stanford University. She is also a pain psychologist and scientist. Broadly, her research investigates how to best treat and prevent chronic pain. Specific interests include applying behavioral medicine strategies to facilitate pain control and opioid reduction, as well as developing and investigating digital behavioral pain medicine solutions. 

As a BIRCWH scholar, Dr. Darnall studied pain catastrophizing as a cause for systemic inflammation in women with chronic pain. She sought to clarify a physiological, mechanistic link between catastrophizing and immunity that explained a portion of gender dimorphism for pain. During her tenure with the BIRCWH, she received a $78,000 private grant from ZRT industry. Her work with mirror therapy, which she also conducted as a BIRCWH scholar, received significant media attention and was the subject of two additional private grants, one entitled "Home- based self-delivered mirror therapy for phantom pain" and the other, "Mirror therapy outreach workshops for medical providers in Vietnam." This work has resulted in several innovative personalized therapies for women and men suffering from phantom pain. Dr. Darnall was awarded an R01 in 2018 titled, “Single Session Pain Catastrophizing Treatment: Comparative Efficacy & Mechanisms”.

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Wendy Wu, PhD

Wendy Wu, PhD

Research Pharmacologist/Electrophysiologist  

US Food and Drug Administration

Appointed: 01/2008-06/2010

Primary Mentor: James Maylie, PhD    

Mentors: John Adelman, PhD

Dr. Wendy Wu is a Research Pharmacologist for the Cellular Electrophysiology Laboratory at the Division of Applied Regulatory Sciences (DARS) in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). She currently oversees projects pertaining to in vitro ion channel pharmacology to support the Comprehensive in vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) initiative.

As a BIRCWH scholar, Dr. Wu studied how sex hormones affect cellular processes in the brain and behavior. Her specific focus during the BIRCWH was investigating how premature and uncompensated loss of ovarian hormones following surgical menopause compromises cognitive function and increases a woman's risk of developing cognitive impairment and dementia. She received a private grant during her tenure as a BIRCWH scholar to focus on the surgical menopausal model.

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Howard Song, MD, PhD

Howard Song, MD, PhD

Professor and Division Head, Cardiothoracic Surgery 

Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 07/2005-07/2008

Primary Mentor: Patricia Hurn, PhD    

Mentors: Steven Hanson, PhD; Kent Thornburg, PhD

Dr. Howard Song is the Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and a member of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at OHSU. He is actively involved in both clinical and basic science research on cardiovascular disease. His research interests include biomedical and tissue engineering, genetically-triggered thoracic aortic aneurysms, and patient outcomes following cardiovascular surgery. 

As a BIRCWH scholar, Dr. Song studied the effects of hormones and gender upon arterial stent restenosis. His BIRCWH research focused on outcomes of patients undergoing adult cardiac surgery, genetically triggered thoracic aortic aneurysms, recombiant factor replacement following cardiopulmonary bypass to decrease postoperative bleeding, and bioengineering or prosthetic materials and blood pumps to improve biocompatibility.

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Damani Bryant, PhD, MA

Damani Bryant, PhD, MA

Life Science Content Developer 


Appointed: 04/2005-07/2008

Primary Mentor: Dan Dorsa, PhD    

Mentors: Oline Ronnekleiv, PhD; Martin Kelly, PhD

Dr. Damani Bryant is a Life Science Content Developer at Bio-Techne, where he oversees the creation of scientific materials for the company’s marketing efforts.  

As a BIRCWH scholar, Dr. Bryant studied the role of estrogen receptor splice variants ERa 36 and ERa 46 in neuroprotection following cardiac arrest and resuscitation in a murine model. Dr. Bryant was also PI of a National Science Foundation Grant entitled "Effect of sexual differentiation on cortical signaling response to estradiol". Since his appointment with the BIRCWH, Dr. Bryant has authored 6 articles in diverse journals including Neuroscience, Endocrinology, and Minerva Endocrinologica.

Learn more about Damani 

Paco Herson, PhD

Paco Herson, PhD

Professor, Pharmacology 

University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine

Appointed: 07/2004-07/2006

Primary Mentor: James Maylie, PhD    

Mentors: John Adelman, PhD; Patricia Hurn, PhD

Dr. Paco Herson runs an independent, funded, productive research group focused on translational neuroscience. Currently, he serves as Vice Chair for Research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. In addition. Dr. Herson is the Director of the Neuronal Injury & Plasticity (NIP) Program within the Department of Anesthesiology. The NIP is a highly collaborative research group that works closely with several faculty from various departments with the shared goal of furthering the understanding of the consequences of cerebral ischemia, brain injury, and critical illness. 

As a BIRCWH scholar, Dr. Herson developed a novel in vitro model to investigate sex differences in sensitivity to ischemia-reperfusion of cerebellar Purkinje cells. He hypothesized that one important mechanism of neuroprotection is via progesterone's enhancement of inhibitory GABAA receptor activity, counteracting the high levels of excitatory input to neurons during and immediately following ischemia. Since 2017, Dr. Herson has been the recipient of three R01 awards from the NIH.

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Philippe Thuillier, PhD

Philippe Thuillier, PhD

Assistant Professor, Dermatology 

Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 07/2004-07/2006

Primary Mentor: Grover Bagby, MD    

Mentors: Thomas Becker, PhD

Dr. Philippe Thuillier presently oversees his own lab, with a specific focus on the molecular mechanisms by which dietary nutrients can prevent cancer. His unique approach combines molecular biology and epidemiology to truely assess translationally the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms regulating cancer cell and tumor growth. By doing so, he will be able to utilize state of the art molecular biology tools to characterize the pathways and some of the targets by which specific nutrients control cancer cell and tumor growth. The resulting potential impact is obviously enormous for the millions of Americans who could benefit from cancer prevention strategies that would only require dietary manipulation.

As a BIRCWH scholar, Dr. Thuillier began studying dietary conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a dietary fatty acid and its preventive effects on breast and ovarian cancer cell lines by influencing the expression of BRCA 1, thereby reducing cross-link and oxidative stress-induced DNA damage. He has successfully received funding on 10 grants including as PI or co-PI on two R01s and two, as well as several private and biotech grants.

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Tanja Pejovic, MD, PhD

Tanja Pejovic, MD, PhD

Associate Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology

Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 08/2003-07/2007

Primary Mentor: Grover Bagby, MD    

Dr. Tanja Pejovic has advanced training in treating all forms of gynecologic cancers. Her research interest in how ovarian cancer develops in the body's cells has given her a deep understanding of this disease. 

As a BIRCWH scholar, Dr. Pejovic studied the role of DNA repair proteins in ovarian cancer and ovarian cancer predisposition. Her research suggests that low expression of FANCD2 protein and mRNA is associated with a risk of ovarian cancer, independent of BRCA mutation status. She holds a patent related to her work entitled "Test for ovarian cancer by detecting abnormality in FANCD2 pathway." She has also created a tissue bank of ovarian cancer samples from patients who underwent oophorectomy for benign, high-risk, or malignant ovarian diseases.  

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Karen Eden, PhD

Karen Eden, PhD

Professor, Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology

Director, Clinical Track in Biomedical Informatics Graduate Program

Oregon Health & Science University

Appointed: 07/2003-07/2006

Primary Mentor: Jeanne-Marie Guise, MD, MPH   

Mentors: Mark Helfand, MD, MPH; Dundar Kocaoglu, PhD

Dr. Karen Eden has extensive experience in translating comparative effectiveness information into patient-friendly interactive decision aids that inform patients and prepare them for an informed discussion with a provider. These decision aids span a broad range of clinical topics, including breast cancer screening, childbirth decision making after cesarean, and domestic violence safety planning. She has most recently been funded to create a mobile app to help OHSU students, faculty, and employees access resources to address discrimination, sexual harassment and misconduct.

As a BIRCWH scholar, Dr. Eden applied computer techniques to design decision aids that help patients educate themselves to make informed decisions and to quantify the relative importance of various factors in the decision process. She has effectively used the model of Vaginal Birth after Cesarean, and was awarded an R03 to test which formats were optimal for women to understand the rare risks and received a supplement to study whether there were differences in the Hispanic population. She has been PI, co-PI or significant co-Investigator for eleven research projects, including: NIH, AHRQ, CDC, VA, private and international grant-funded projects.

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Nancy Glass, PhD, RN, MPH

Nancy Glass, PhD, RN, MPH

Professor, Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health

Independence Chair in Nursing Education

Johns Hopkins University

Appointed: 07/2003-11/2005

Primary Mentor: Lowell Davis, MD

Mentors: Linda McCauley, PhD, RN; Mary Ann Curry, DNSc, RN

Dr. Nancy Glass conducts clinical and community-based intervention research with diverse populations across multiple settings, both domestically and globally. Since 2002, Dr. Glass has served as Principal Investigator of nine federally funded R01 multidisciplinary research projects (NICHD, NIMHD, CDC, NIMH, NINR, OWH) to improve safety, health, and economic security and address gender inequity in diverse community and clinic settings. Dr. Glass has also collaborated with global experts and donors (UNICEF, World Bank, U.S. Department of State, PRM) to implement and evaluate innovative primary prevention programs that challenge social norms that sustain violence against women in humanitarian settings (Somalia and South Sudan). She has also helped examine the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) in the three regions of Somalia (South Central, Puntland, and Somaliland) to inform GBV programs and service. All research collaborations have used mHealth technologies to deliver programs and to collect confidential and secure data, reach diverse populations, and provide tools and resources to health and social service providers. 

As a BIRCWH scholar, Dr. Glass applied an interdisciplinary approach to developing community-partnered intervention models targeting employed immigrant and U.S.-born Latina women survivors of intimate partner violence. Importantly, Dr. Karen Eden (BIRCWH scholar at OHSU from 2003 to 2006) and Dr. Glass integrated their areas of research in decision science and gender-based violence during their times as BIRCWH scholars. They subsequently received NIMH funding as co-Principal Investigators to develop and test the effectiveness of the first Internet-based safety decision aid for survivors of intimate partner violence.

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Erin LeBlanc, MD,MPH

Erin LeBlanc, MD, MPH

Investigator, Center for Health Research

Kaiser Permanente Northwest

Appointed: 07/2003-07/2004

Primary Mentor: Jeri Janowsky, PhD    

Mentors: Eric Orwoll, MD; Lowell Davis, MD; Jacob Raber, PhD; Lynn Loriaux, MD, PhD

Dr. Erin LeBlanc is an epidemiologist and board-certified adult endocrinologist. Her research focuses on conditions that affect women, including menopause, obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes, and vitamin D deficiency. Currently, she is leading the D2d study, a multicenter study examining the effects of vitamin D on diabetes risk. She has also led a study examining risk factors associated with fractures among people taking bisphosphonates. Additionally, she has served as a co-investigator on the Prepare study, which is examining the effects of a pre-pregnancy weight loss program, and on “de por vida”, which is examining the effects of a weight loss intervention in Hispanics with diabetes or prediabetes. Finally, Dr. LeBlanc is a co-investigator on the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures (SOF), a nearly 30-year-old study that is linking its database with Medicare claims data for nearly 10,000 women to examine relationships between aging and cognitive function, physical performance, bone mineral density, and body weight. 

As a BIRCWH scholar, Dr. LeBlanc designed and implemented a randomized controlled trial of estrogen's effects on cognition and menopausal symptoms in early menopausal women. This study provided preliminary data and direction for a K23 award entitled, "The role of estradiol in menopause" and the results of this study were published in Menopause in 2007. In 2015, Dr. LeBlanc was awarded an R01 titled, “PREPARE: A randomized trial of a pre-pregnancy weight loss intervention”.

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