Participating Faculty

OHSU PREP has many participating faculty across departments. During your application you will be asked to specify 3-5 research faculty that interest you. These names will be used for the mentor-matching process of selected scholars. Please see the list of faculty members who are actively recruiting PREP scholars for this year below. This list gets updated annually. If there is someone of interest to you that is not on the list, please let us know by emailing us at PREPtograd@ohsu.edu. You can find out about additional researchers by exploring the Labs at OHSU website.

Note: Our PREP faculty were asked to specify the graduate program they are most affiliated with (which is listed in each profile section). However, many of our faculty are affiliated with several graduate programs at OHSU. 

Sudarshan Anand

Sudarshan Anand

Associate Professor | Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences

“Giving cancer the flu” Strategies to manipulate the tumor immune microenvironment including antibodies targeting immune checkpoints have revolutionized cancer treatment. However, many tumors are immunologically ‘cold’ thereby escaping these immunotherapies. ‘Tricks and tips’ from viruses/bacteria or autoimmune disease have yielded many approaches to enhance immune recognition of tumors. We found that an RNA sensing pathway, Retinoic acid Induced Gene 1 (RIG-I) that serves as a receptor for viral RNA, can be adopted as a robust immune activator across cancer types A few questions we are investigating currently What cell types in the tumor benefit from RIG activation - the tumor cells or immune cells? What makes some tumors sensitive or resistant to RIG activation? Can we develop small molecule modulators of RIG-I function? Lab Website

Marc Freeman

Marc Freeman

Professor | Neuroscience Graduate Program

Our group uses the fruit fly Drosophila as a model to explore fundamental aspects of glial cell biology and neuron-glia interactions. Glial cells constitute the majority of the cells in the human brain and play crucial roles in the assembly, function and maintenance of neural circuits. Despite their abundance, we know surprisingly little about how glia develop or function. The major advantages of the fly are its remarkable collection of molecular-genetic tools for the analysis of gene function, the depth of our understanding of the development, histology and function of the Drosophila nervous system. Lab Website

Melanie Gillingham

Melanie Gillingham

Associate Professor | Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences

My laboratory studies the pathophysiology and potential development novel treatments of inherited disorders of the fatty acid oxidation pathway. We use a variety of models of fatty acid oxidation including iPSC derived in vitro models, and mouse models. The lab is currently developing an AVV gene therapy approach to treat a unique chorioretinipathy observed in patient and our mouse model of Long-chain 3-hydroxy Acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency. Lab Website

Beth Habecker

Beth Habecker

Professor | Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences

The Habecker Lab explores the intersection of neuroscience and cardiovascular science in order to discover new insights into how the body works and develop new ways to treat disease. We are studying nerves that control the heart, and are trying to understand how neuron-heart interactions during injury and disease contribute to bad outcomes including cardiac arrhythmias and heart failure. We are investigating ways to restore nerves after injury and asking if fixing nerves can prevent cardiac damage and inflammation. Lab Website

Laura Heiser

Laura Heiser

Associate Professor | Biomedical Engineering

My laboratory is focused on understanding the phenotypic and molecular responses of cancer and normal cells to diverse stimuli including small molecule inhibitors and growth factors. We use a variety of novel imaging-based and molecular techniques to assess dynamic changes in single cells, and have a particular interest in elucidating mechanisms of therapeutic response and resistance in cancer. We use well-integrated computational and experimental techniques with a key goal of closing the gap between these approaches. My experimental expertise is in the analysis of high-throughput profiling data, including next-generation sequencing, high-throughput functional assays, and imaging assays. Lab Website

William Hersh

Bill Hersh

Professor | Biomedical Informatics

My research focuses on the development and implementation of information retrieval (IR, also called search) systems in biomedicine and health. I experimented with concept-based approaches to indexing and retrieval of knowledge-based information. Subsequently, I found that methods for evaluation systems were inadequate, and developed an interest in new approaches to evaluation. My interests in search have also evolved with the emergence of new content for retrieval, such as medical images and electronic health record data. My recent work focuses on IR needs in the setting of pandemics with rapidly emerging publications and evolving information needs. Lab Website

Monica Hinds

Monica Hinds

Professor | Biomedical Engineering

The Hinds lab focuses on understanding and interceding in progression of cardiovascular diseases. Our team studies ways to engineer biomaterials to promote healing and the impact of fluid flow on vascular cells. The lab utilizes in vitro mechanistic studies with cultured cells and blood components, ex vivo experimentation with whole blood, and in vivo animal studies. Members of our lab have diverse academic backgrounds including engineering, biology, chemistry, medicine, and materials science. Our broad approach to understanding the cardiovascular system allows our team numerous opportunities to apply basic science and engineering principles to understand and treat cardiovascular diseases. Lab Website

Jeanette "Jeni" Johnstone

Jeni Johnstone

Assistant Professor | Clinical Psychology

The Science of Nutrition Affect and Cognition in Kids (SNACK) Lab studies complementary and integrative interventions (multinutrient supplementation, mindfulness) for mental health concerns including ADHD, emotional dysregulation, mood, anxiety and stress. We are examining the biomarkers of multinutrient response, including the microbiome and its metabolites, neurotransmitter concentrations in urine and plasma, stress-related hormones and cytokines, and genetic factors. In 2022, we have new clinical trials planned in racially and ethnically diverse participants, with a focus on Black and Hispanic families, and will study new multinutrient formulations. The cross-disciplinary team (psychologist, nutritionist, naturopath, psychiatrist, and epidemiologist) conducts quantitative and qualitative research. Lab Website

Sonnet Jonker

Sonnet Jonker

Associate Professor | Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences

Our research focuses on heart growth around the time of birth because these months are critical for establishing life-long cardiovascular health. Before birth, cardiac myocytes proliferate abundantly, the coronary capillary tree expands, connective tissues are deposited in the heart and blood vessels throughout the body. The fetus is exquisitely responsive to its environment, altering growth and maturation in mere days. Adaptations help the fetus to meet a challenge, but may have long-term consequences. We are interested in how the fetus responds to adverse challenges and whether we can improve their life-long health by stimulating beneficial adaptations in the perinatal period. Lab Website

Kate Keller

Kate Keller

Associate Professor | Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences

My laboratory investigates the cell biology of glaucoma, a common disease that causes irreversible blindness. Glaucoma is frequently associated with elevated intraocular pressure, which is caused by decreased aqueous humor outflow through the trabecular meshwork (TM) tissue. We have identified extracellular matrix molecules that contribute to intraocular pressure regulation, how TM cells respond to elevated pressure, and the biological function of glaucoma-causing genes. Our current work is on specialized actin-based tunneling nanotubes, which transport signals directly between TM cells. Using live-cell imaging, we show that TNTs formed by glaucomatous TM cells have different phenotypic characteristics than normal TM cells, which affects their cellular communication. Lab Website

Jennifer Loftis

Jennifer Loftis

Professor | Clinical Psychology

The Loftis laboratory is focused on investigating the psychoneuroimmunological mechanisms contributing to substance use disorders, cognitive impairment, and mood disorders. We conduct preclinical studies using animal models and clinical studies to characterize the inflammatory pathways contributing to cognitive dysfunction, depression, and anxiety, particularly in individuals with a history of substance use disorders (e.g., methamphetamine, alcohol) and viral infection [e.g., hepatitis C virus (HCV), severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)]. A major goal of this translational work is to develop and test anti-inflammatory interventions that can treat impairments in neuropsychiatric function and improve recovery outcomes and quality of life. Lab Website

Sanjay Malhotra

Sanjay Malhotra

Professor | Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences

The Malhotra Laboratory in the Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology at Oregon Health & Science University is engaged in the design and discovery of novel chemical probes and methods to study disease biology. We employ the tools of chemical biology, pharmacology and medicinal chemistry to facilitate mode-of-action studies to understand biological phenomena, such as the protein-protein interactions and modulation of signal transduction pathways. We are a multi-disciplinary group with expertise in biology, chemistry and pharmacology working towards understanding radiation and disease biology with relevance to neurodegeneration, cancer, autoimmune and infectious diseases. Lab Website

Ian Martin

Ian Martin

Assistant Professor | Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences

Research in my laboratory focuses on two main areas: First, how mutations in the LRRK2 (leucine-rich repeat kinase 2) gene promote Parkinson’s disease neurodegeneration through altered LRRK2 kinase activity. Second, how gene-environment interactions act as a pivotal determinant of neurodegeneration following exposure to certain environmental neurotoxins such as pesticides. For each area, my laboratory utilizes a combination of in vitro biochemistry, Drosophila and rodent animal models and a wide array of molecular biology, imaging and behavioral approaches that we have acquired deep expertise in. Lab Website

Julia Maxson

Julia Maxson

Assistant Professor | Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences

The Maxson laboratory is focused on the molecular evolution of myeloid leukemias. We have a particularly interest in uncovering mechanisms of signaling and epigenetic dysfunction in these malignancies. Our goal is to harness this mechanistic understanding to enable the development of more effective treatments for patients. Lab Website

Anusha Mishra

Anusha Mishra

Assistant Professor | Neuroscience Graduate Program

Neurovascular coupling is the process that matches neuronal activity with increases in local blood flow to supply energy substrates. This process is mediated by signaling between neurons, astrocytes and vascular cells. Neurovascular coupling is altered in neurological diseases so that active neurons are not getting the energy they need. Work in the Mishra lab aims to understand the mechanisms that cause this neurovascular coupling alteration in disease, particularly at the microvascular capillary level, with a focus on the role of astrocytes. Lab Website

Brian O'Roak

Brian O'Roak

Associate Professor | Neuroscience Graduate Program

Defining the molecular mechanisms that underlie autism requires not only identification of critical genetic risk factors, but also understanding how they interact within a complex and developing system. I believe we need to shift our focus to a new paradigm that incorporates many different patient-specific mutations in a multitude of models with complementary strengths and weaknesses. Advances in genome editing, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), neurogenetics, and functional genomics have made this patient-specific approach feasible. Furthermore, focusing on mutations in genes that are master regulators of key biologic networks provides an avenue for reducing the phenotypic complexity of autism, biomarker discovery, and targeted personalized therapies that will have impact beyond a single risk gene. Lab Website

Angela Ozburn

Angela Ozburn

Associate Professor | Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience

Research in my laboratory is directed toward a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie addiction and improved treatment of substance use disorders. We are currently using several complementary approaches in mice to carry out research goals: a) alcohol and drug self-administration, b) viral-mediated gene transfer to temporally and spatially control gene expression and neuronal activity, c) behavioral battery of drug and mood-related assays, and d) next gen sequencing to study regulation of gene expression. Lab Website

Tamara Phillips Richards

Tamara Phillips Richards

Professor | Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience

My laboratory focuses on genetic factors that play a role in individual differences in risk for drug use. Through the use of genetic animal models, single gene manipulations and gene network analyses, our ultimate goal is to identify druggable targets for innovative and effective therapeutics. We have expertise in genetic model development, the measurement of multiple drug-related behavioral traits, pharmacological research, and the utilization of molecular methods in discovery and hypothesis testing. My research focuses on the two highly addictive drugs, alcohol and methamphetamine and is supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Lab Website

Jonathan Pruneda

Jonathan Pruneda

Assistant Professor | Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences

Our immune system relies upon rapid and robust signaling responses to the detection of an invading pathogen. In these signaling pathways, information is relayed through post-translational modifications such as protein ubiquitination. Unfortunately for us, many pathogens have the remarkable ability to subvert host signaling responses and thus evade detection. Work in our lab focuses on the mechanisms by which pathogens manipulate the host ubiquitin signaling response. We use biochemical and structural biology techniques to understand the molecular details of these host-pathogen interactions, with the goal of learning more about the requirements for infection and immunity. Lab Website

Georgiana Purdy

Georgiana Purdy

Professor | Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences

The goal of the Purdy Lab is to further define the dynamic interface between the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and the host macrophage. Mtb is a successful pathogen because it survives within immune cells and effectively establishes and maintains a latent tuberculosis (TB) infection. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms underlying the establishment or maintenance of dormancy can inform new strategies for TB therapeutics. My lab has characterized the function of the Mycobacterial membrane protein large (MmpL) cell wall lipid transporters in pathogenic and non-pathogenic mycobacteria. MmpL proteins are integral to Mtb survival and pathogenesis. In particular, our current focus is on the MmpL11 transporter because it plays a central role in Mtb non-replicating persistence by transport of dormancy-associated “storage lipids”. Purdy lab combines bacterial genetics, biochemistry and cell biology techniques to address these questions. Lab Website

Isabella Rauch

Isabella Rauch

Assistant Professor | Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences

Rauch lab research aims to understand how mammalian barrier tissues such as the intestine or the reproductive tract distinguish between harmless and dangerous microorganisms, and what happens during infection of epithelial cells at these tissues. The reaction of an epithelial cell to pathogen assault represents the first decision of the ensuing immune reaction, and understanding these processes will help us to better treat infections and chronic inflammatory diseases. We use various mouse models of infection in our research. In addition, stem cell derived organoids from mice and humans allow us to model and study epithelial infections in a dish. Lab Website

Lina Reiss

Lina Reiss

Associate Professor | Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience

We conduct research related to hearing - auditory perception and cochlear implants. There are actually two labs - one basic science lab that uses animal models, and one clinical research lab that tests human subjects. We focus on two areas: 1) how neural health of the auditory nerve changes after cochlear implantation, and how aging affects this process, for instance recovery of neural structures such as myelin or neurites. 2) how central auditory processing differs in people with hearing loss and hearing devices like cochlear implants, and these differences affect the ability to segregate (and understand) speech in background noise. We study these questions using psychophysics/behavior, non-invasive electrophysiological measures using the cochlear implant to record neural signals, immunohistochemistry, and computational models. Lab Website

Arpiar Saunders

Arpiar Saunders

Assistant Professor | Neuroscience Graduate Program

Our aims in research are to understand 1) how genetic variation influences the cellular organization of neural circuits and how 2) viruses interact with host brain cell types. Our approach is primarily focused on using single-cell, single-virion genomic to generate comprehensive and high-throughput datasets. Lab Website

Elinor Sullivan

Elinor Sullivan

Associate Professor | Clinical Psychology

The overarching research goal of the laboratory is to understand the influence of early environmental factors such as maternal nutrition, stress, and mental health during gestation on offspring neurobehavioral regulation. The primary focus is the identification of early environmental risk and protective factors for neurodevelopmental disorders including autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and depression in order to inform the design of prevention strategies and early interventions. One specific focus is the impact of exposure to maternal obesity and poor nutrition during the perinatal period on the behavior, and physiology of the developing offspring. Lab Website

Gary Westbrook

Gary Westbrook

Professor | Neuroscience Graduate Program

Researchers in the Westbrook Lab would like to understand how synapses and small circuits do their work. Our earlier work was mostly directed at the level of receptors, particularly N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, and the function of single synapses. Our efforts have now largely shifted to studies of small networks (microcircuits) in the hippocampus. Our goal is to understand how such circuits are formed, regulate their activity and contribute to the function of neural systems. Lab Website

Anna Wilson

Anna Wilson

Associate Professor | Clinical Psychology

The Advancing Research in Pediatric Pain Lab studies novel models of risk for pain in children and families, with the goal of identifying medical system and psychosocial targets for prevention of chronic pain problems. We assess pain via patient-reported outcomes, lab-based pain testing, and neuroimaging approaches. Our work focuses on family factors, intergenerational risk for pain, and pain and prescription opioid use in adolescents and young adults in the context of acute and chronic pain experiences. Lab Website

Kevin Wright

Kevin Wright

Associate Professor | Neuroscience Graduate Program

Our lab is interested in how the nervous system is assembled, and how this process goes wrong in neurodevelopmental disorders. We use mouse genetic approaches to study neuronal specification, migration, axon guidance, and synaptogenesis. Current projects involve identifying the molecular pathways required for generating diverse subtypes of neurons with unique molecular, morphological, and physiological properties in the retina and dorsal root ganglia. We are also investigating how the transmembrane protein Dystroglycan regulates inhibitory synapse formation and maintenance in the brain of mouse models of dystroglycanopathy, a form of congenital muscular dystrophy that is accompanied by a range of neurological defects. Lab Website

Daniel Zuckerman

Daniel Zuckerman

Professor | Biomedical Engineering

How do molecular machines really work? And can we predict future cell behavior based on sparse information of the past? The Zuckerman group uses physics-based computations to study biological phenomena ranging from molecular to cell scale. At the molecular scale, we use principles of dynamical trajectories to design better methods applicable for drug design; yet the same ideas can be used to help understand the behaviors of cells, for instance in tumor environments. We also use statistical inference to determine mechanisms of molecular machines such as transporters in a quantitative manner. An overarching challenge of the modern era of data-intensive biology is the generation of understandable, mechanistic models based on experimental data, and we are actively working in this area using innovative methods. The group is funded both by NIH and NSF. Lab Website


OHSU PREP has a number of Faculty who will join us throughout the year assisting in several professional development programming (i.e. understanding academic culture, grad application preparation, developing research methods, and creating a professional/scientific identity).