ORCCAMIND Academics and Training

CAM research training

The Oregon Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Neurological Disorders has a T32 institutional training grant, "CAM Research Training in Neuroscience and Stress," from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at NIH. Dr. Barry Oken is the director of the training grant.

This training grant provides funding for postdoctoral fellows with an interest in complementary medicine and either neurology or stress, including oxidative/nitrative and toxicologic stress. Complementary medicine is a broad area and includes treatments such as dietary supplements and mind-body medicine as well as others. Visit National Institutes of Health: Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name? for further description.

Mentors

There are many potential mentors at OHSU, dependent upon the interests of the applicant. Please contact Drs. Oken or Soumyanath for additional options. All applicants must select a mentor/co-mentor. Primary mentors should have externally funded research, a history of prior mentorship and a history of CAM research. If the mentor selected does not have this level of experience in all areas, a co-mentor with experience in the other areas that are lacking will need to be established.

MENTORS LIST

All applicants must select a mentor/co-mentor from the following list. Primary mentors should have a significant history of prior mentorship and of CAM research. If the mentor selected does not have this level of experience in both areas, a co-mentor with primary experience in the other area that is lacking will also need to be established. Other mentors could be formally added if they have important expertise and it is mutually desirable.

 Joe Beckman, PhD, Linus Pauling Institute, OSU

The Beckman lab investigates the dark side of nitric oxide – how nitric oxide interacts with superoxide (O2.-) and other radicals to form much stronger oxidants such as peroxynitrite (ONOO-) and how peroxynitrite modulates signal transduction. We developed antibodies to nitrotyrosine, which is now a widely used marker for the role of nitric oxide-derived oxidants, particularly peroxynitrite, in biology and pathology. A major interest in the lab is to understand how mutations to the copper, zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD) gene can cause Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The lab is currently investigating the role of zinc in protecting transgenic mice against the toxicity of ALS-mutant SOD. The Beckman lab is also investigating the effects of a common pesticide, metam sodium, on cell function. This is closely related to a common inhibitor of Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase and may also affect activation of NFkB.

Raina Croff, PhD Assistant Professor, Aging & Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, Neurology Department, OHSU

Dr. Croff examines the implications of gentrification on Black older adults' cognitive health and their ability to successfully age in place. The Sharing History through Active Reminiscence and Photo-imagery (SHARP) study integrates walking in gentrifying historically Black neighborhoods and GPS-linked historical neighborhood images to prompt conversational reminiscence. Wearable technology records daily activity levels, sleep, and heart rate variability to understand the relationship with cognitive changes. Mixed methods examine adoption of program technology and perceived cultural significance. Walking narratives form an oral history digital archive and are central to the development of narrative-based health education and community programming. The SHARP team works closely with community partners, including PreSERVE Coalition for Black/African American Memory and Brain Health. The SHARP approach introduces a culturally celebratory way to increase physical and social activity for healthier aging that honors Black health, history, and community memory. Dr. Croff’s training is in medical anthropology, with a focus on African Diasporic cultures and histories. Her work centers the Black experience to inform asset-based, culturally meaningful approaches to brain health and thus more likely sustained engagement for better cognitive and community health outcomes.  For more information, visit www.sharpwalkingstudy.org.

 Christopher Cunningham, PhD, Behavioral Neuroscience Department, OHSU

This lab is generally concerned with motivational effects of abused drugs, with special emphasis on genetic and brain mechanisms underlying drug-seeking and drug-taking behavior. These studies involve various animal genetic models, including selectively bred mouse lines, recombinant inbred strains, congenic strains, and knockout/transgenic strains. Behavioral procedures commonly used include: operant self-administration, place conditioning (preference and aversion), and taste conditioning. In some projects, studies are designed to identify and characterize the physiological, neuroanatomical, neurochemical and molecular systems that mediate drug reward and aversion. These studies may involve systemic or intracranial administration of pharmacological agents (e.g., receptor agonists or antagonists). Other studies, done in collaboration with OHSU faculty colleagues, examine molecular changes produced by drug exposure. The lab is also engaged in projects that examine the roles played by environment, experience and learning. Of special relevance to this training program are studies that address the role of Pavlovian conditioning and other cognitive processes on the response to drugs, including “placebo” responses. For example, in a past collaborative project with Drs. Richard Jones, Barry Oken and Dennis Bourdette, the beneficial impact of Pavlovian conditioning on the therapeutic response to ALA (alpha lipoic acid, thioctic acid) in mice with paralytic autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) was examined.

 Adrian Gombart, PhD, Linus Pauling Institute, OSU

The research the Gombart lab is focused on understanding the regulation of antimicrobial peptide expression by the vitamin D pathway. When immune cells called macrophages encounter a pathogen and become activated, the vitamin D pathway is turned on, leading to the induction of the cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide if serum levels of vitamin D are sufficient. This mechanism is conserved in humans and primates but not in other mammals. The lab developed a transgenic mouse that carries the human cathelicidin gene. Using this model, the lab is testing the ability of vitamin D to protect against infection by influenza, Salmonella, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Another focus of the lab is to identify additional dietary compounds that regulate the expression of the cathelicidin gene. This gene is also induced by sodium butyrate and lithocholic acid, which functions through the vitamin D receptor. Nutrients that bind the vitamin D receptor may modulate the immune system by inducing the cathelicidin gene. The lab discovered that curcumin in curry modestly induces expression of the cathelicidin gene, which could protect the gut from infection. A small molecule library screen for regulators of the cathelicidin gene identified resveratrol and pterostilbene as inducers of cathelicidin gene expression. Finally, the lab is interested in determining the effect of vitamin D on the function of the innate immune system in the elderly. Aging is accompanied by low-grade, chronic, systemic inflammation, and vitamin D has important anti-inflammatory properties. Research is focused on determining if sufficient levels of vitamin D will reduce the inflammatory phenotype.

 Alice Graham, PhD, Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatry Departments, OHSU

Dr. Graham is a developmental neuroscientist and clinical psychologist who received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Oregon. She completed her clinical internship and residency in the Child Development & Rehabilitation Center and the Department of Psychiatry at OHSU. She also completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in Behavioral Neuroscience at OHSU mentored by Damien Fair at OHSU and Claudia Buss at UC Irvine and Charité University of Medicine in Berlin. In the fall of 2018 she will begin as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at OHSU. She will lead the Infant Team in the Development Cognition and Neuroimaging Lab to study the developing brain beginning soon after birth. The research team is interested in how the early environment, starting in the prenatal period, influences developing brain systems and behavioral outcomes. They use structural and functional MRI to characterize the developing brain and work on optimizing tools to assess early brain development and how it differs between individuals. They conduct intervention research with the aim of ameliorating effects of exposure to early life stress and supporting healthy brain development. This intervention research currently focuses on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for women during pregnancy. As part of a collaboration with Dr. Kristen Mackiewicz-Seghete, they investigate how this intervention may influence both maternal and infant brain functioning. The overarching goal is the prevention of psychiatric disorders and improvement of cognitive and emotional health across the lifespan. 

 Nora Gray, PhD, Neurology Department, OHSU

Dr Gray received her PhD in Molecular and Biochemical Nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley before completing a postdoctoral training in the neurology department at OHSU and joining the faculty as an assistant professor in 2017. Her research uses animal models of aging and neurodegenerative disease to examine how oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction contribute to cognitive decline and how those pathways can be targeted for therapeutic intervention. Her recent work has investigated the neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing effects of an extract of the medicinal plant Centella asiatica in mouse models of aging and Alzheimer’s disease focusing specifically on identifying biological mechanisms and active compounds within the extract.

 Tory Hagen, PhD, Linus Pauling Institute, OSU

The Hagen lab investigates two interrelated and fundamental aspects of aging: 1) the causes and consequences of mitochondrial decay in cardiovascular aging, and 2) the mechanisms associated with loss of oxidative stress resistance in the elderly. Moreover, the lab seeks to identify “age-essential” micronutrients, which can improve/maintain mitochondrial function and/or increase resistance to oxidative insult. The lab has shown age-related changes in the mitochondria in the aging rat heart, brain and vascular endothelial cells in terms of reduced levels of glutathione and vitamin C, a lower thiol/disulfide ratio, heightened levels of oxidative damage and lower indices of mitochondrial bioenergetic parameters. However, dietary addition of R-a-lipoic acid (LA) reverses much of the increase in indices of oxidative stress while dietary supplementation with acetyl-L-carnitine maintains bioenergetic parameters, particularly in the aging rat brain and myocardium. With regards to altered stress resistance, the lab has shown that feeding LA to old rats reverses the age-related increased susceptibility to toxic insult (tert-butylhydroperoxide and menadione). Because LA is rapidly metabolized in the cell, we hypothesized that it may be acting as a signaling molecule to upregulate stress response mechanisms. We found that LA works by inducing the nuclear translocation of a transcription factor, Nrf2, which in turn, initiates expression of over 300 genes involved in oxidative/toxicological stress response in the cell. These findings thus have large ramifications for overall resistance to pathophysiological insult, which otherwise declines with age. These studies are in concert with those of Drs. Balz Frei and Joseph Beckman, who along with the Hagen lab, have been awarded a P01 (NCCAM) to examine antioxidants, such as LA, on cardiovascular and neurological disorders.

Fay Horak, PhD, Neurology Dept, OHSU

Dr. Horak studies neural control of posture and gait and the effects of neurological disorders in order to improve balance rehabilitation. Of particular interest are changes in postural strategies in the elderly and in patients with pathologies common in the elderly: Parkinson’s disease, cerebellar ataxia, vestibular loss, and peripheral neuropathy. Studies involve quantification of body motions, surface forces and muscle activation patterns in response to controlled perturbations of stance and gait and the ability to adapt to altered environmental conditions. Her laboratory also investigates the effectiveness of medications, surgeries and new approaches including Alexander Technique to rehabilitation on balance disorders and back pain. Dr. Horak leads a sensorimotor control journal club and lectures in a Behavioral Neuroscience course on Multisystem Understanding of Aging. Her studies have direct application to improving the diagnosis and rehabilitation of balance disorders to prevent falls in the elderly.

Jeffrey Kaye, MD, Neurology Department, OHSU

Dr. Kaye is Professor of Neurology and Director of the NIA funded Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Oregon Health and Science University. Dr. Kaye’s research program has focused over the past decade on the research question of why some individuals remain protected from dementia at advanced ages while others succumb at much earlier times. In order to answer this question he has emphasized the high-risk population of people at age 85 or older (the “oldest old”). The centerpiece of these studies has been the ongoing Oregon Brain Aging Study, established in 1989. This study has made several original contributions pertaining to exceptional aging ranging from defining the role of health in delaying cognitive decline to discovery of presymptomatic markers of cognitive decline related to brain volumes, cognitive performance and genetic risk. In this context, most recently in collaboration with the Oregon Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Neurological Disorders and funded by NCCAM he has been investigating the role of standardized ginkgo biloba extract in preventing dementia in cognitively intact octogenarians. This is the first such study to apply biomarkers to the study of dementia prevention. Dr. Kaye has also conducted similar studies in Alzheimer’s disease patients where he has served as a mentor to junior investigators studying CAM compounds such as cats claw and lactoferrin.

Doris Kretzschmar, PhD, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Science and Molecular and Medical Genetics, OHSU

The goal of Dr. Kretzschmar’s research is to identify the causes and mechanisms underlying age-related neurodegenerative and behavioral changes in the Drosophila model system.  The lab has developed and characterized several fly models for age-related neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and other Tauopathies, as well has a model of hereditary spastic paraplegia. In addition to studying the causes and consequences of age-related diseases, Dr. Kretzschmar’s group also investigates mechanisms that underlie and affect normal aging, mostly focusing on how disruptions of circadian rhythms and especially sleep contribute to aging and age-related decline in cognition, locomotion, and lethality.  Dr. Kretzschmar has been working in this field for about 20 years and has extensive experience in characterizing neurodegenerative phenotypes in the fly model (including at the electron microscopic level) and in studying genes and pathways underlying age-related diseases and aging in general. In addition, Dr, Kretzschmar has a long-standing interest in identifying compounds that ameliorate disease-associated phenotypes and provide resilience to age-related decline.

Miranda M. Lim, MD, PhD Neurology, Behavioral Neuroscience, and Medicine Departments, and Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, OHSU; VA Portland Health Care System

The Sleep & Health Applied Research Program (SHARP) involves both basic and clinical studies of neurological disease with a focus on aging and neurodegeneration, including chronic sequelae of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Alzheimer's disease. Central to our studies is our examination of how sleep modulates brain plasticity and neuropathology, and understanding the mechanisms underlying potential interventions to improve sleep and thereby neurodegenerative outcomes. We are particularly interested in sleep interventions that leverage complementary and integrative health practices. Current research includes investigation of potential sleep interventions such as Centella asiatica (funded by NIH NCCIH/NIA U19 BENFRA Center), bright light therapy (LION Study – funded by DoD/Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine), dietary supplementation with branched chain amino acids (SmART-TBI – funded by VA CSRD), and mindfulness meditation (IMMINENT – supported by an ORCCAMIND T32 postdoctoral fellow). Trainees in my laboratory can expect to become proficient in several preclinical methods, including rodent stereotaxic surgery, in vivo long-term sleep EEG/EMG recordings, behavioral and pharmacological manipulation of sleep, and neurological disease modeling, interpretation, and translation. On the human/clinical side, trainees can expect training in methods related to administration and analysis of psychometric surveys, wrist actigraphy, mattress sensors, overnight polysomnography, retrospective and prospective longitudinal studies, and randomized controlled clinical trials. Finally, advanced EEG signal processing and machine learning techniques are applied to both preclinical and clinical data for identification of biomarkers and seamless translation.

Suzanne Mitchell, PhD, Behavioral Neuroscience Department, OHSU

Dr. Mitchell’s group examines whether drug users’ higher impulsivity rate than non-drug users existed prior to drug use, or is a consequence of the neuroadaptations due to drug use.  To address these questions, they work with human, rat and mouse subjects.  For example, they examine whether different genotypes are associated with impulsive behavior by comparing impulsivity in drug-naïve selected lines and inbred strains of mice and rats.  They also examine whether different levels of impulsivity predict responses the first time mice and rats are exposed to drugs of abuse, like alcohol, nicotine and methamphetamine.  Measures of impulsivity in human subjects are used to examine whether acute exposure to drugs of abuse or withdrawal form use results in changes in behavior.  In addition, Dr. Mitchell’s research examines the basic neural processes involved in decision making, including impulsive and risky decision making, using lesion techniques and imaging.

Cynthia Morris, PhD, MPH, Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology Department, OHSU

Dr. Morris is assistant dean for admissions OHSU School of Medicine and Vice-Chair of the Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology, with dual appointments in the Departments of Medicine and Public Health and Preventive Medicine. As an epidemiologist, she has extensive experience in clinical trials, population?based studies, patient registries, and systematic reviews. Dr. Morris has directed the Biostatistics and Study Design Core of the ORCCAMIND project, and through this, she has coordinated the major trials as well as all the smaller, developmental studies in complementary and alternative medicine. From this endeavor, Dr. Morris recently developed a new Clinical Research Data Resource at OHSU for trial coordination and the maintenance and establishment of practice networks for research. Her principal research focus has been in the etiology of congenital malformations. She established the Oregon Registry of Congenital Heart Defects, the only population-based registry of its kind in the US; she also has established a research focus on the role of folate intake and metabolism in congenital heart disease. She is a member of the Oregon Evidence-Based Practice Center, and performed the systematic review on which recommendations from the US Preventive Task Force on antioxidant supplementation for cancer and heart disease prevention are based. Dr. Morris established and directs the NIH K30 funded Human Investigations Program to train faculty in fellows in clinical research. Thus far, more than 85 faculty have enrolled in the program's first three certificate cohorts, including 6 complementary and alternative medicine practitioners from outside OHSU (National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine). From this K30 program, Dr. Morris has recently proposed a Master of Clinical Research degree that has been approved at all level at OHSU and is now awaiting final approval by the Oregon University System for implementation in fall, 2004. Dr. Morris has a long record of mentoring physicians and medical students pursuing an MPH at OHSU; in addition, she is the primary mentor for one K23 grantee at OHSU, and is actively working with three others for K23 development. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Clinical Research Training Program Directors Association.

Barry Oken, MD, PhD Neurology and Behavioral Neuroscience Departments, OHSU

The lab has a long history of trying to better understand the mechanisms underlying the age-related decline in human cognition, primarily visual attention, with particular emphasis on those mechanisms that may be remediable. The lab is currently studying the effects of mind-body medicine, including yoga and meditation on human behavior and cognition with a particular interest in physiologic markers for stress. Projects include both interventional as well as mechanistic studies. Some current studies maintain the emphasis on aging but others include populations with high stress, e.g., PTSD and chronic pain. Dr. Oken has a long-standing interest in human neurophysiology focusing on EEG and evoked potentials. Assessments include experimental cognitive tasks using accuracy, reaction time, conventional clinical neuropsychologic tests, personality traits, fatigue and quality of life. Physiologic measures include conventional EEG, digital EEG signal analysis, event-related potentials, autonomic nervous system activity (e.g., heart rate variability). Advanced signal processing and machine learning techniques are utilized.

Amie Peterson Hiller, MD, OHSU’s Parkinson’s Center of Oregon

Dr. Peterson is a movement disorder specialist who has focused her clinical research in Parkinson’s disease. She is currently involved in a study looking at the effects of vitamin D intervention on gait and balance as well as cognition, strength, and mood her persons with Parkinson’s disease. She also has an interest in mind-body medicine, specifically the effects of mindfulness meditation on Parkinson’s disease symptoms and progression. She is hoping to start a mindfulness study partially using a tele-medicine based approach in the near future.

Joseph Quinn, MD, Neurology Department, OHSU

Dr. Quinn's research program utilizes animal models and human "biomarker" studies for the purpose of developing strategies for prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease, with a focus on oxidative damage as a treatable mechanism. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant strategies have been studied in a transgenic mouse model of AD (Tg2576), and are currently being examined in human trials employing cerebrospinal fluid disease markers. The biomarker strategy reduces the numbers of subjects necessary for "proof of concept" trials, and permits conclusions regarding the biological basis of treatment efficacy, conclusions which are not possible in traditional clinical trials based solely on cognitive outcomes. The animal model strategy also permits the screening of combination therapy, which is not practical in the clinical setting. The animal studies are currently focused on co-enzyme Q and a copper-chelating agent, with plans to explore combination therapy with agents previously proven effective, including alpha lipoic acid and ibuprofen. The focus is on agents which are already approved for use in clinical trials, so that the animal studies may be quickly translated to clinical trials.

Kristen Mackiewicz Seghete, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, OHSU

Dr. Mackiewicz Seghete received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Colorado Boulder and completed a pre-doctoral internship in the Child Psychiatry Department at the University of Illinois Chicago. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience at OHSU. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at OHSU and a licensed psychologist in the state of Oregon. Her lab has a strong clinical neuroscience and cognitive neuroscience focus, including an emphasis on understanding how chronic and early stress may contribute to altered cognitive and affective brain processes and basic alterations to cognitive and affective brain processes in clinical disorders. Further interests include direct translation of this knowledge to examine neurobiological mechanisms of action of behavioral interventions. Current and past projects in the lab focus on both basic and translational neuroscience. Primary methods used in the lab include neuroimaging (fMRI), neuropsychological testing, and collection of standardized clinical data. Intervention work is focused on mindfulness-based psychotherapy, such as Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and currently the perinatal and postpartum period. This translational treatment work is being done in concert with Dr. Alice Graham, which has allowed a collaborative approach examining the neurobiological effects of intervention on a two-generational level. 

Lynne Shinto, ND, MPH, Neurology Department, Center for Women's Health, OHSU

Dr. Shinto's research focuses on evaluating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies in chronic neurologic disorders.  Specific interests are in evaluating clinical and immunomodulatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants (alpha lipoic acid) in people with multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease (respectively).  Dr. Shinto is also interested in evaluating quality of life and pain in patients that visit clinics that utilize both CAM and conventional providers and therapies.  

Amala Soumyanath, B.Pharm, PhD, Neurology Department, OHSU

Amala Soumyanath  has a B.Pharm degree and Ph.D. both from the University of London, UK.  Dr. Soumyanath joined the faculty of OHSU Neurology Department in 2003, through ORCCAMIND – the Oregon Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Neurological Diseases.  Her area of expertise is "Pharmacognosy", the scientific study of medicinal plants. Her  research encompasses the characterization and quality control of botanicals, phytochemical isolation, preclinical and clinical evaluation of botanical extracts, including bioavailabilty and pharmacokinetic studies of  the active compounds in botanicals. The goals of her research are to (a) validate and understand the traditional use of botanicals through scientific study, and (b) investigate botanicals as a source of new treatments for disease or means of improving resilience to disease.  Her current research focus is on the Ayurvedic herbs, Centella asiatica (gotu kola) and Withania somnifera (ashwagandha). Collaborative preclinical and clinical studies are currently being pursued on the use of these herbs in the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease and mild cognitive impairment, as well as to improve cognition, mood and sleep in normal aging. She is Co-Director of this T32 program and also Director of a NIH funded Botanical Dietary Supplements Research Center examining 'Botanicals enhancing neurological and functional resilience in aging".  Dr Soumyanath is affiliated with the Layton Aging and Alzheimer's Disease Center at OHSU. 

Fred Stevens, PhD, Linus Pauling Institute, OSU

The research mission of the Stevens Lab is to determine the role of phytochemicals and vitamins in preventing or treating age-related diseases, including cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. This research group develops LC-MS/MS methods for targeted and untargeted metabolomics experiments to determine the biological effects of phytochemicals/vitamins in supplementation/deficiency studies using cell culture, animal models and humans. The lab has developed novel biomarkers to examine the role of oxidative stress and the protective effects of dietary supplements in human health and disease. One research project aims to elucidate the mechanisms by which xanthohumol, a prenylated flavonoid from the hops plant (Humulus lupulus), mitigates abnormal glucose and lipid metabolism in animal models of obesity. Using an untargeted metabolomics approach, the group discovered that oral administration of xanthohumol to obese rats leads to reduced formation of lipotoxicity products by improving beta-oxidation of fatty acids. Dr. Stevens has studied the chemistry and biology of xanthohumol since 1997 and has published 22 papers on this compound. Other projects in the lab focus on the role of vitamin C in the prevention of tolerance to nitrate therapy and on the development of bioherbicides and skin care products derived from the enzymatic degradation of glucosinolates naturally present in meadowfoam (Limnanthes alba), an oilseed crop grown in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

 Maret Traber, PhD, Linus Pauling Institute, OSU

This laboratory investigates the function and bioavailability of vitamin E in humans. To define alpha-tocopherol functions at the molecular level, several tools are available. The lab uses different forms of vitamin E to test specific functions. For example, despite having identical antioxidant activities, natural and synthetic alpha-tocopherols are utilized differently, because they have different stereochemistries. The alpha-tocopherol transfer protein (TTP) in liver is critical in this regard. We have developed an alpha-TTP-knockout mouse in which the gene for this protein has been deleted. Hence, this mouse is unable to discriminate between natural and synthetic alpha-tocopherols. Plans are underway to use this mouse to define specific molecular functions and pathways that are susceptible to alpha-tocopherol deficiency. Additionally, other naturally occurring forms of vitamin E, such as gamma-tocopherol and the tocotrienols, are being investigated to assess whether they have specific roles in human nutrition. Studies of vitamin E metabolism serve to determine whether there is sufficient vitamin E in the face of oxidative stress. Preliminary data in smokers and extensive exercisers who are under increased oxidative stress suggest that oxidative stress increases the need for vitamin E. Studies of the kinetics of deuterated tocopherols in smokers compared with non-smokers, or in athletes during exercise and at rest, will allow assessment of the vitamin E requirements and their relationship to vitamin E metabolites. The availability of deuterated tocopherols has now made it possible to carry out extensive measurements of the biokinetics and bioavailability of vitamin E in humans. The Traber laboratory has developed new methodologies using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry that are 100-fold more sensitive than previous methods. The purpose of these measurements is to detail the requirements of normal humans and those with diseases related to oxidative stress, such as atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

Vivek Unni, MD, PhD, Dept of Neurology, Parkinson's & Movement Disorders, OHSU

The lab is interested in understanding the mechanisms of neurodegeneration that occur in Parkinson's Disease (PD) and related disorders. Specifically, we are interested in the role of the protein alpha-synuclein. Several lines of evidence suggest that overexpression of this protein can lead to the formation of alpha-synuclein aggregates that are toxic to brain cells and lead to the symptoms of PD. Our approach has been to use mouse models that overexpress alpha-synuclein to study this process in the living brain, using advanced fluorescence microscopy techniques, like multiphoton imaging. Projects include testing the possible role of genetic influences and environmental toxins that have been implicated in PD on alpha-synuclein aggregation. We are also testing the ability of the natural product curcumin, the active compound in the spice turmeric, to remove preformed aggregates. The lab uses a variety techniques to complement our in vivo imaging work, including protein biochemistry, immunohistochemistry, and animal behavior.

Helané Wahbeh, ND, Neurology, OHSU

Dr. Helané Wahbeh is naturopathic physician and clinician researcher focused on complementary and alternative medicine, specifically mind-body medicine research. Her research interests include meditation and other mind-body medicines especially in conjunction with stress. She is interested in physiological outcomes such as EEG, EKG, cortisol, immune markers as well as psychological ones, mindfulness, personality, perceived stress, resilience, and positive and negative emotion. Study populations include combat veterans with PTSD, adults with depression, and healthy older adults. Dr. Wahbeh has completed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Teacher Training by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a four-year meditation teacher training, and has also practiced meditation regularly for 13 years.

Heather Zwickey, PhD, Helfgott Research Institute, National University of Natural Medicine

Dr. Zwickey is the Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, and Director of Helfgott Research Institute at the National University of Natural Medicine. She is a professor of immunology at NUNM, and has an adjunct appointment in the Department of Neurology at OHSU. As a conventionally trained immunologist, Dr. Zwickey’s research focuses on the effect of different natural therapies on immune outcomes including cytokine profiles, and T cell subsets. Her projects include clinical studies and mechanistic research. She has particular interest in neuroimmunomodulation and psychoneuroimmunology. She is currently working with researchers at University of Michigan to better understand the role of cytokines in Acupressure for Long-Term Cancer Treatment Derived Fatigue. She also works with investigators at Stanford to determine how cytokines and hormones interact in pain and catastrophizing. Her current research at NUNM investigates how different diets promote or decrease pain and inflammation.

T32 Executive Committee

Barry Oken, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Departments of Neurology and Behavioral Neuroscience, OHSU

Amala Soumyanath, B.Pharm., Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, OHSU

Tory Hagen, Ph.D., Professor, Linus Pauling Institute, OSU

Joseph Quinn, M.D., Professor, Department of Neurology, OHSU

Heather Zwickey, Ph.D., Director, Helfgott Research Institute; Research Dean and Professor of Immunology, National University of Natural Medicine

OHSU and OSU are Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employers