Headshot photo of David L. Farrens, Ph.D.

David L. Farrens, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Chemical Physiology and Biochemistry, School of Medicine
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program, School of Medicine
  • Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine


Dr. Farrens obtained his undergraduate (1985) and Ph.D. (1991) in chemistry from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  His graduate work involved physical and biochemical studies of the plant photoreceptor phytochrome (carried out under the supervision of Dr P.-S. Song), followed by similar work at RIKEN in Tokyo with Dr. Furuya.   He then moved to MIT to work on the visual photoreceptor rhodopsin with Dr H. G. Khorana (1992–1995), and then at UCLA with DrW. L. Hubbell (1996).
In his laboratory at OHSU, Dr. Farrens (and colleagues) develop and use novel biochemical and physical methods to identify common structural mechanisms involved in the activation and attenuation of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs).  Their work focuses primarily on rhodopsin and the cannabinoid receptor CB1, studying how these proteins interact with their affiliate signaling partners (G-proteins, arrestins and kinases).

Education and training

    • B.S., 1985, University of Nebraska
    • Ph.D., 1991, University of Nebraska
  • Fellowship

    • NRSA NIH Fellowship - 1993-1995

Memberships and associations:

  • NIH study section Biology and Diseases of the Posterior Eye [BDPE] (ad hoc reviewer) - 2007, 2008, 2010
  • Molecular and Integrative Signal Transduction [MIST] (ad hoc reviewer) - 2010, 2016
  • Biology of the Visual System [BVS] (permanent study section member) - 2011-2015
  • Biophysical Society member
  • International Conference on Retinal Proteins - Advisory Committee

Areas of interest

  • Photobiology/photochemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Molecular pharmacology
  • G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs)

Honors and awards

  • National Merit Scholarship - 1980
  • Regents Scholarship, University of Nebraska - 1980
  • Upson Scholar, University of Nebraska - 1990
  • National Science Foundation Travel Award - 1990
  • American Society for Photobiology Student Travel Award - 1990
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Award, Univ. Nebraska Department of Chemistry - 1990
  • NIH Training Grant - 1992
  • Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award - Graduate Program, OHSU - 2001-2002
  • Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award - Graduate Program, OHSU - 2003-2004
  • Royal Society of Chemistry (U.K.) Travel Award - 2006
  • Faculty Excellence in Education Award, OHSU - 2011-2012



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