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

Tavita Garrett awarded Gilliam Fellowship

Tavita Garrett, a fourth-year student in the Vollum/OHSU Neuroscience Graduate Program and researcher in the Trussell Lab, is the recipient of a Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Gilliam Fellowships are awarded to exceptional graduate researchers nationwide who are pursuing a Ph.D. in the life sciences and who are committed to increasing diversity among scientists. The fellowship provides support — both financial and professional — for up to three years of dissertation research and offers awardees many opportunities to expand their professional networks by attending the annual Gilliam meeting and HHMI Investigator Conferences. Congratulations, Tavita!
Learn more about HHMI’s Gilliam Fellowship

Bart Jongbloets receives Veni award

Congratulations to Bart Jongbloets, postdoctoral fellow in the Mao Lab, on receiving a Veni young investigators award from the Dutch Research Council (NWO). The highly competitive grant provides up to €250,000 over the span of three years to a select group of promising young scientists to encourage curiosity-driven and innovative research. Dr. Jongbloets plans to use innovative microscopy techniques in understudied brain regions to reveal where dopamine signaling occurs and how those signals influence brain networks.
Learn more about the NWO Veni grant

Research highlights

Autoimmune receptor encephalitis in mice induced by active immunization with conformationally stabilized holoreceptors
Jones BE, Tovar KR, Goehring A, Jalali-Yazdi F, Okada NJ, Gouaux E, Westbrook GL
Science Translational Medicine 2019 July 10; 11(500):eaaw0044

Myelinating Schwann cells ensheath multiple axons in the absence of E3 ligase component Fbxw7
Harty BL, Coelho F, Pease-Raissi SE, Mogha A, Ackerman SD, Herbert AL, Gereau RW 4th, Golden JP, Lyons DA, Chan JR, Monk KR
Nature Communications, 2019 Jul 5; 10(1):2976

Exercise-induced enhancement of synaptic function triggered by the inverse BAR protein, Mtss1L
Chatzi C, Zhang G, Hendricks WD, Chen Y, Schnell E, Goodman RH*, Westbrook GL*
Elife 2019 Jun 24; 8:e45920 *co-senior authors

Synapse-specific opioid modulation of thalamo-cortico-striatal circuits
Birdsong WT, Jongbloets BC, Engeln KA, Wang D, Scherrer G, Mao T
Elife 2019 May 17; 8:e45146

View all

Women in Science Portland hosts 2nd annual science-immersive gala

Women in Science Portland logo

Women in Science Portland (WIS PDX) is hosting their 2nd Annual Fundraising Gala on Wednesday, September 18th, from 6–9 pm at The Nightwood Society in NE Portland. The Vollum Institute is a proud sponsor of the gala and endorses WIS PDX's mission to build a community of supportive networks for the development, retention and promotion of women in science and technology related fields.

Early bird tickets are available until August 25 or whenever they sell out. Register now for the gala!

Accolades for our early career researchers

Congratulations, Tartar Trust awardees!

Congratulations to the Neuroscience Graduate Program and Vollum graduate researchers — Sweta Adhikary, Kylie McPherson, Taylor Mighell and Sigrid Noreng — who received 2019 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!

Now presenting…summer research internship awards

Participants in the Vollum/NGP Summer Undergraduate Program joined students from other OHSU summer programs to present their research projects to the OHSU community at the 2019 Research Internship Poster Symposium on Friday, August 9. All of these outstanding young scientists displayed a high level of research scholarship, which made judging a particularly challenging task. The Vollum congratulates its three Best Poster presenters:

  • 1st place: Christine Tan (Jackman Lab) — “Can Synaptotagmin 7 resolve the debate on the neural substrate of working memory?”
  • 2nd place: McKay “Goh” Butler (Trussell Lab) — “Regional Variance in Cholinergic Innervation to Cochlear Nucleus in the Mammalian Auditory Brainstem”
  • 3rd place: Amir Veshagh (Westbrook Lab) — “Should you DREADD exercise?”

Welcome 2019-2020 Post-Bacc scholars

2019-2020 scholars in the Neuroscience Post-Baccalaureate Initiative

Scholars in the second cohort of OHSU’s Neuroscience Post-Baccalaureate Initiative have arrived and are ready to experience a year of in-depth, neuroscience research in Vollum Institute and Department of Neurology labs. Please join us in welcoming the 2019–2020 scholars (from left to right): Dennisha King (Quinn and Shinto Labs, Department of Neurology), Raquel Miralles (Jackman and Westbrook Labs, Vollum Institute), and Yessica Santana (Mao and Jackman Labs, Vollum Institute).

Vollum researchers in the news

3D-printed model of the extracellular domains of an NMDA receptor

In collaboration with the Gouaux lab, Brian Jones in the Westbrook lab developed a mouse model of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis using active immunization with intact native-like NMDARs embedded in liposomes. The mice showed a behavioral and tissue phenotype that mimicked the disease as chronicled by an afflicted patient in the book, Brain on Fire. The use of the holoprotein as immunogen suggests that the disease-inducing epitope is conformationally restricted, something we hope to test in the mice and in human cases. The research was published July 10 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Learn more at OHSU News
Read the PubMed abstract

Fbxw7 mutant Schwann cells

Oligodendrocytes myelinate multiple axons in the central nervous system, while in the peripheral nervous system, Schwann cells myelinate a single axon. Why are the myelinating potentials of these glia so fundamentally different? New data from the Monk Lab reveal unexpected plasticity in the myelinating potential of Schwann cells, which may have important implications for our understanding of myelination and myelin repair in both systems. The research was published July 5 in the journal Nature Communications.
Learn more at OHSU News
Read the PubMed abstract

Cartoon mouse in a running wheel

Scientists in the Goodman and Westbrook labs report that even a short period of exercise (mice on running wheels for 2 hours) causes structural and functional increases in synapses in the dentate gyrus. They linked it to an understudied, membrane-bending gene called Mtss1L. The research was published online in the journal eLife.
Learn more at OHSU News

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.

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

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

Farzad Jalali-Yazdi, Ph.D., Gouaux Lab
NIMH F32 Fellowship: "Elucidating the structural mechanism of NMDA receptor modulation by cryo-electon microscopy"

Bart Jongbloets, Ph.D., Mao Lab
Dutch Research Council (NWO) Veni Grant: "Uncovering dopamine signaling in our brain"

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"

Brendan Lujan, Ph.D., von Gersdorff Lab
NIDCD F32 Fellowship: "Retrograde signaling and the modulation of short-term plasticity at an auditory synapse"

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

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

Sigrid Noreng, Baconguis Lab
American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship: "Elucidate the gating mechanism of ENaC"

Brooks Robinson, Ph.D., Williams Lab
NIH/NIDA K99 Award: "Cocaine-induced plasticity of D2 receptor synapses"

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

Nate Yoder, Gouaux Lab
NINDS F31 Predoctoral Fellowship: "Structure of an Acid Sensing Ion Channel in a resting state at high pH"