Headshot photo of James A. Frank, Ph.D.

James A. Frank, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor of Chemical Physiology and Biochemistry, School of Medicine
  • Joint Appointment, Vollum Institute
  • Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program, School of Medicine
  • M.D./Ph.D. Program Committee, School of Medicine


James Frank completed his Bachelor's degree in Chemistry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where he worked in the lab of Prof. Stephen G. Withers. There, he developed fluorescent glycosides for the detection of glycosidases in high-throughput screens. Frank then traveled overseas for an industry job at Corden Pharma LLC near Basel, Switzerland, where he developed a large-scale synthesis of a complex glycolipid pharmaceutical. He obtained his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany in the lab of Prof. Dirk Trauner, where his research focused on the synthesis/evaluation of photo-switchable lipids. In 2017, Frank joined the bioelectronics group of Prof. Polina Anikeeva at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he engineered fiber-based implants to apply these photochemical probes to control behavior in freely moving rodents. He joined the Vollum Institute in 2018 as a Vollum Fellow and Research Assistant Professor, where his research interests focus on the roles of lipids on cell physiology. In 2021, Frank was named Assistant Professor in OHSU's Department of Chemical Physiology & Biochemistry, with a joint appointment in the Vollum.

The Frank lab will develop tools to illuminate the molecular mechanisms underlying membrane-localized signaling events, as well as interrogate their roles in neurological disorders and addictive behavior.

Education and training

    • B.Sc., 2012, University of British Columbia
    • Ph.D., 2017, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Areas of interest

  • chemical biology
  • lipid
  • endocannabinoid
  • neural circuits
  • optical control



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