OHSU Faculty Excellence and Innovation Awards

The OHSU Faculty Excellence and Innovation Awards recognize exceptionally creative early- and middle-stage investigators. OHSU deans, directors and chairs nominate a single candidate from their respective schools, programs and departments, and applications are reviewed by prominent scientists from institutions around the country. Finalists and nominees represent the next generation of faculty leaders at OHSU.

The awards are made possible by the Silver Family Innovation Fund. These investments not only catalyze innovation in finalists’ labs but also spark new collaborations that benefit other scientists at OHSU.

Finalists 2021

Luiz Bertassoni Innovator Spotlight

Luiz Eduardo Bertassoni, D.D.S., Ph.D. 
Associate Professor of Restorative Dentistry, School of Dentistry
CEDAR Member, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, School of Medicine

Luiz Bertassoni is a clinician-scientist, biomedical engineer and international pioneer in bioprinting. His research led to the development of the first method to 3D bioprint fully vascularized tissue constructs. He has followed that with the development of the method to mimic the 3D cell-laden calcified bone microenvironment with nanoscale precision.

Bertassoni’s project is to develop an innovative technology that will bioprint human tissues with single-cell resolution. This opens the possibility of being able to print replacement organs for patients who would otherwise be waiting on a list. Additionally, these controllable and reproducible automated processes will be used to develop reproducible models of heterogeneous cancers and the tumor microenvironment. With such precise organ systems, experimental drugs could be accurately tested in a lab, rather than a person.

Swetha Murthy, PhD

Swetha Murthy, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Vollum Institute
Neuroscience Graduate Program, School of Medicine

Molecular neuroscientist Swetha Murthy is uncovering the physiology of mechanotransduction – or the conversion of mechanical force into biological signals. Murthy is specifically focused on mechanically activated ion channels, which are crucial components of the sense of touch, hearing and blood pressure. 

Understanding how these ion channels function may unlock answers – and potential treatments – for a wide range of maladies including chronic pain, atherosclerosis, as well as sensitized pain caused by chemotherapy drugs.

The 2021 Faculty Excellence and Innovation Award will support Dr. Murthy’s project, “How do cells sense force and why is it important?”

Finalists, 2020

Jamie Lo, M.D., MCR Assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, OHSU School of Medicine

Jamie Lo, M.D., MCR
Assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, OHSU School of Medicine 
Division of Reproductive & Developmental Sciences, OHSU Oregon National Primate Research Center

Jamie Lo’s research vision is to understand the effects of marijuana exposure during pregnancy — a topic with significant research gaps. Marijuana is commonly used to help with morning sickness during the first trimester, the period that is most critical for the developing fetus.

Lo is developing an innovative nonhuman primate model that overcomes barriers in human research and facilitates understanding of the prenatal and postnatal effects of chronic maternal marijuana use during pregnancy. Lo’s long-term goal is to establish evidence-driven recommendations and frame policy guidelines for marijuana use in pregnant and lactating women.

Steven Mansoor, M.D., Ph.D. Assistant professor, OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute, OHSU School of Medicine

Steven Mansoor, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant professor, OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute, OHSU School of Medicine

Cardiologist Steven Mansoor is leading a research effort using cryo-EM to view the structure of receptors whose activation can trigger blood vessel inflammation and platelet aggregation, leading to coronary artery disease. 

Mansoor is investigating purinergic receptors, which play important roles in cardiovascular, neuronal and immune systems. The award will allow him to use single particle cryo-electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography and techniques in electrophysiology to study the structure, function and signaling of these receptors. Understanding the function of these receptors may allow researchers to design treatments that can prevent over-activation of these receptors, decreasing heart attacks and plaque burden.

Jeffrey Tyner, Ph.D. Professor of medicine (cell, developmental, and cancer biology), OHSU School of Medicine, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Jeffrey Tyner, Ph.D.
Professor of medicine (cell, developmental, and cancer biology), OHSU School of Medicine, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

The goal of Jeffrey Tyner’s research program is to improve therapies for patients with leukemia and other blood cancers through a discovery-based platform of functional genomics. Several of his findings have been, and are being, tested in clinical trials, the earliest of which are now complete and likely to lead to regulatory approvals.

The basic premise of this functional genomics platform is to collect as much information as possible from samples of patient cancers — information such as analyses of tumor cell drug sensitivity, signaling, genetics and other cellular processes, as well as data regarding the state of the tumor microenvironment — to mine these expansive patient sample data sets and perform complementary experiments using laboratory models.

Nominees

“These scientists and physician-scientists are nominated for these awards because of their great creativity and promise. They represent some of the most accomplished early- and middle-stage investigators at OHSU and demonstrate the broad base of talent here.” — Peter G. Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D., OHSU executive vice president and chief research officer.