Executive/Advisory Committee

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee is comprised of an OHSU graduate program director and one past/present OHSU PREP faculty mentor. The goal of the Executive Committee is to support the OHSU PREP staff in monitoring the progress of the program, assist in reviewing applications during the year of service, and may help manage any conflicts/issues that might arise.

Swetha Murthy, Ph.D.

Swetha Murthy

Swetha Murthy earned her B.S. from Bangalore University in India. She received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the State University of New York, Buffalo in 2012. Under the guidance of Gabriela Popescu she studied gating mechanism of NMDA receptors for her doctoral research. She trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Ardem Patapoutian at Scripps Research where she studied the functional and physiological characterization of mechanically activated ion channels. Dr. Murthy joined the Vollum Institute as assistant scientist in 2019. Additionally, Dr. Murthy serves as an OHSU PREP Faculty mentor to Tony Munoz (2021 PREP Scholar).

Georgiana Purdy, Ph.D.

Georgiana Purdy

Dr. Georgiana Purdy is a Professor in the Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Department. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in Microbiology and Cell Science (BS, with honors) and History (BA, with honors) from the University of Florida in 1998. She subsequently obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003, working on the bacterial pathogen Shigella flexneri. Dr. Purdy performed her postdoctoral training at Cornell University, where she studied the host-pathogen interface between Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the macrophage. Dr. Purdy joined the OHSU in 2008 and established her independent research program focused on M. tuberculosis. The goals of the Purdy Lab are to further define the intrinsic resistance of the pathogen to the host immune response, delineate pathways in mycobacterial cell envelope biogenesis, and identify targets and new strategies for future drug therapy. The lab combines the approaches of bacterial genetics, biochemistry and cell biology to achieve these goals. Dr. Purdy is the Program Director for the interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (PBMS).

Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee is comprised of the Executive Committee (above), one postdoctoral fellow from the OHSU Fellowship for Diversity in Research (OFDIR) postdoctoral program, one OHSU PREP alumni, and external advisory members. The goal of the Advisory Committee is to support OHSU PREP staff by providing feedback on programmatic plans as well as assist with reviewing PREP applications during the year of service. 

Ernesto Manzo, Ph.D.

Ernesto Manzo

Ernesto Manzo is currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Marc Freeman, researching the cellular mechanisms that control neuronal decay. His research uses the fruit fly as a model organism to better understand how neurons either survive or degenerate in response to genetic insults. As an undergraduate at Swarthmore College, he became fascinated by how genetic alterations cause human disease. In 2010, he sought out an internship at the Clinic for Special Children, where he studied genetic diseases in the Amish and Mennonite Plain populations under Dr. Erik G. Puffenberger. He received his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona (2019) where he studied metabolic defects implicated in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the laboratory of Dr. Daniela C. Zarnescu. Ernesto is an OFDIR Community Fellow and former HHMI predoctoral Gilliam Fellow with an interest in breaking down institutional barriers for traditionally underrepresented students in higher education. 

Rachel De La Torre, B.S.

Rachel De La Torre

Rachel earned a B.S. in Micro/Molecular Biology from Portland State University in 2015. She then spent several years researching immune signaling mechanisms underlying psoriasis and atopic dermatitis in the OHSU Dermatology Research Division. During the summer of 2015, she studied under the mentorship of Dr. Mary Logan in the Jungers Center at OHSU as a Portland State University McNair Scholar investigating glial cell involvement in synaptic loss in the context of Alzheimer's disease. Interested in furthering her neuroscience background, Rachel was accepted to the 2018–2019 cohort of the OHSU/Vollum Institute Neuroscience Post-Baccalaureate Initiative where she studied glial mediated elimination of dying neurons in the Freeman Lab. She continues this work now as an NGP graduate student.