Vollum Institute at OHSU (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

The Vollum Institute is a privately endowed research institute at Oregon Health & Science University dedicated to basic research that will lead to new treatments for neurological and psychiatric diseases. Vollum scientists have broad-ranging interests that coalesce around molecular neurobiology and cellular physiology. Their work has transformed the field of neuroscience and, in particular, has provided important advances in the study of synaptic transmission, neuronal development, neurotransmitter transporters, ion channels and the neurobiology of disease. Learn more about the Vollum's mission

Application deadline for OHSU Neuroscience Postbac Initiative extended to March 15

The OHSU NPBI is a collaborative effort of the Vollum Institute, the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience and OHSU Research & Innovation that provides qualified scholars from underrepresented backgrounds a paid, year-long, in-depth research experience in laboratories that match their interests. Accepted scholars receive tailored support around academic and professional development in addition to strong letters of recommendation provided by their research mentor and the graduate program director.

Deadline to submit application materials is March 15, 2021, 11:59 pm PST.

Work-in-Progress Talks (virtual)

Friday | March 12, 2021 | 12–1 pm

The functional characterization of the cytidine monophosphate sialic acid transporter
James Cahill, Research Assistant II, Baconguis Lab

ANKRD24 is essential for stereocilia rootlet formation and hearing function in the mouse cochlea
Jocelyn Krey, Ph.D., Senior Staff Scientist, Barr-Gillespie Lab

Learn more about the Friday WiP Seminars Series

Gouaux lab provides structure-based understanding of mechanism of partial agonist action

Glycine, taurine and GABA binding sites in glycine receptor

Partial agonists are receptor ligands that, under saturating conditions, nevertheless result in less than maximal activation. Despite extensive studies, the molecular insights into why partial agonists give rise to limited receptor activation remain elusive. The pentameric glycine receptor (GlyR), a hallmark Cys-loop receptor, mediates signal transduction at chemical synapses and transitions between resting, open, and desensitized states in responses to ligand–neurotransmitter–binding.

Gouaux lab members and first co-authors, Jie Yu and Hongtao Zhu, and their collaborators at the Van Andel Institute and University College London, carried out single channel electrophysiology and single particle cryo-EM studies to show how partial agonists populate agonist-bound yet closed channel states, providing the first structural insights into reduced efficacy of the agonists.

Their research also revealed structures of the receptor bound with agonist yet in a closed ion channel state and found that partial agonists produce less substantial conformational changes in the neurotransmitter binding pocket in comparison to full agonists, thus providing a metric to correlate the extent of agonist-induced conformational changes to open channel probability across the Cys-loop receptor family. With structures of agonist-bound closed, open and desensitized states in hand, the lab will proceed to map the conformational changes of the receptor as it transitions throughout the entire gating cycle.

The findings were published online February 9 in the journal Cell.

Read the PubMed abstract
Read or download the full article on ScienceDirect [available through March 31, 2021]
Visit Eric Gouaux's Lab website

Research highlights

Incomplete removal of extracellular glutamate controls synaptic transmission and integration at a cerebellar synapse
Balmer TS, Borges-Merjane C, Trussell LO
eLife Feb 22;10:e63819

Mechanism of gating and partial agonist action in the glycine receptor
Jie Yu*, Hongtao Zhu*, Remigijus Lape, Timo Greiner, Juan Du, Wei Lü, Lucia Sivilotti, Eric Gouaux
Cell 2021 Feb 18;184(4):957-968.e21 *Contributed equally

Optical control of cannabinoid receptor 2-mediated Ca2+ release enabled by synthesis of photoswitchable probes
Sarott RC, Viray AEG, Pfaff P, Sadybekov A, Rajic G, Katritch V, Carreira EM*, Frank JA*
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2021 Jan 20;143(2):736-743 *Co-senior authorship

Injury-induced inhibition of bystander neurons requires dSarm and signaling from glia
Hsu JM, Kang Y, Corty MM, Mathieson D, Peters OM, Freeman MR
Neuron 2021 Feb 3;109(3):473-487.e5

View all in PubMed

Recognition for our early career awardees

Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are usually supported by research grants to individual faculty or by institutional training grants from the NIH. However, a sought-after perk for trainees is to obtain an individual fellowship from federal sources or foundations. Such awards are an honor and also provide important financial support for the trainee and their lab. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the Vollum Institute have been remarkably successful in obtaining these awards over the past few years. This is a credit to the quality of the trainees and the support the receive from their mentors. Congratulations to all.

Alejandra Fernandez featured on NINDS Building Up the Nerve podcast

Congratulations to the Neuroscience Graduate Program researchers — Ali Pincus, Prashant Rao and Petra Richer — who received 2020 N.L. Tartar Trust Fellowships. The $2,000 grants are awarded annually by the OHSU School of Medicine as a means to support research endeavors and career development. Keep up the great work!

Congratulations to all of our graduate researchers in the Vollum/OHSU Neuroscience Graduate Program who received ARCS Foundation Scholar Awards from the ARCS Oregon Chapter!

First Year: Teva Bracha and Kim Engeln
Second Year: Sweta AdhikaryAmelia CulpMakayla Freitas and Sierra Smith
Third Year: Gregory Hamersky and Jennifer Jahncke

Learn more about these scholars and the ARCS Foundation Oregon

Sweta Adhikary, Williams Lab
NIDA F30 Predoctoral Fellowship (MD/PhD): “Adaptations following chronic opioid treatment and withdrawal”

Alec Condon, Williams Lab
NIDA F31 Predoctoral Fellowship: "Desensitization and recovery of D2 autoreceptors"

Makayla Freitas, Gouaux Lab
NINDS F31 Predoctoral Fellowship: "The molecular architecture and mechanism of the Proton Activated Chloride (PAC)"

Alexandra Houser, Baconguis Lab
National Science Foundation, Graduate Research Fellowship

Jennifer Jahncke, Wright Lab
NINDS F31 Predoctoral Fellowship: "Dystroglycan regulates cerebellar synapse function"

Katy Lehmann, Freeman Lab
National Science Foundation, Graduate Research Fellowship

Dan Miller, Wright Lab
NINDS F31 Predoctoral Fellowship: "Mechanism of dystroglycan function at inhibitory synapses"

Janelle Tobias, Frank Lab
National Science Foundation, Graduate Research Fellowship

Christina Chatzi, Ph.D., Westbrook Lab
Collins Medical Trust: "The benefits of exercise on the aging brain"

Sarah Clark, Ph.D., Gouaux Lab
NIDCD F32 Fellowship: "Elucidating the architecture and composition of the hair cell mechanotransduction complex"

Alejandra Fernandez, Ph.D., Wright Lab
NINDS K01 Postdoctoral Career Development Award: "The role of Pten on primary sensory neuron development"

Taylor Jay, Ph.D., Freeman Lab
NINDS F32 Fellowship: "Glial regulation of neuronal physiology in response to local injury"

Yunsik Kang, Ph.D., Freeman Lab
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Fellowship: "Molecular mechanisms regulating phagaocytosis of neurons"

Patrick Kerstein, Ph.D., Wright Lab
NEI F32 Fellowship: "Gbx2 regulates the development of an atypical amacrine cell"

Jiaxing Li, Ph.D., Monk Lab
National MS Society Postdoctoral Fellowship: “Investigating synapse assembly and disassembly in oligodendrocyte precursor cells”

Ernesto Manzo, Ph.D., Freeman Lab
NINDS F32 Fellowship: "Defining genetic pathways that drive axon loss"

Rory Morgan, Ph.D., Monk Lab
Collins Medical Trust: "Defining the roles of adhesion G protein-coupled receptors (aGPCRs) in myelin formation and homeostasis using reverse genetic and chemical screens in zebrafish"

John Sinnamon, Ph.D., Mandel Lab
Rett Syndrome Research Trust Award: "Using site-directed RNA editing to repair Rett Syndrome mutations in vivo"