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

Work-in-Progress Talks

Friday | May 21, 2021 | 12–1 pm

The impact of Niemann Pick disease type C on exosome biogenesis
Sarah Catherine Baker, Graduate Student, Saugstad Lab 

The role of WNK kinase in axon degeneration
Adel Avetisyan, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Freeman Lab

Learn more about the Friday WiP Seminars Series

Gouaux Lab uses monoclonal antibodies to resolve molecular structure of hippocampal AMPAR

3D reconstruction of the hippocampal AMPA receptor

Scientists in the Gouaux Lab have for the first time revealed the molecular structure of three major AMPA receptor complexes in the hippocampus.

AMPA receptors play particularly important roles in the glutamatergic synapses of the hippocampus. However, the receptors do not function in isolation; they co-assemble with integral membrane proteins to form AMPA receptor–auxiliary subunit complexes. For more than 20 years, studies of these AMPAR complexes relied on engineered protein constructs of the receptor.

By developing and applying new monoclonal antibody reagents, researchers in the Gouaux lab successfully isolated the actual AMPA receptor and its complex of surrounding subunits from mouse hippocampi and imaged the samples using cryo-electron microscopy. Their technique for isolating the molecules has the potential to transform structural biology, opening the door for structure-based development of drugs to treat epilepsy and other seizure disorders.

The findings were published online May 12 in the journal Nature. Gouaux lab members Jie Yu, Ph.D. and Prashant Rao are first co-authors.

Read the OHSU News press release
Visit the Gouaux Lab website

Kelly Monk lectures on "Zebrafish and the Secret to Brain Development"

Kelly Monk gives virtual lecture about the role of zebrafish in scientific research

In celebration of Research Week, Vollum Institute co-director Kelly Monk, Ph.D. shared insights on her lab's recent discoveries about brain biology and neurological disease using a popular aquarium fish — zebrafish.

With their transparent bodies, zebrafish larvae provide a unique opportunity to see a living nervous system in action including all the different cell types that make up a functional brain. Although historically, studies of the nervous system have focused on neurons, neurons only represent about half of the brain. Dr. Monk and her team study the other half — a diverse group of cells called glia. Using sophisticated tools, Dr. Monk’s team is able to capture the birth and behaviors of several different glia in the brain including how they interact with each other and with neurons. Understanding the role glia play in the brain will be key to understanding devastating neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathies, Alzheimer’s, and autism.

View the recording in Echo360

Jiaxing Li named 2021 Warren Alpert Distinguished Scholar

Jiaxing Li, PhD, 2021 Warren Alpert Distinguished Scholar

Congratulations to Jiaxing Li, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in Kelly Monk’s lab, on receiving a 2021 Warren Alpert Foundation Distinguished Scholars Fellowship. This highly competitive national program is awarded to 5–7 individuals each year and provides two years of support in a setting that allows neuroscience trainees to pursue independent scholarship to advance career development. Li's research will focus on investigating mechanisms of neuron-oligodendrocyte precursor cell interactions.

Synapses are communication points between neurons that are the fundamental processing units of the nervous system. Synapses also exist between neurons and non-neuronal cells called oligodendrocyte precursor cells, but how these unique synapses are made and what they do is almost completely mysterious. Li and his team will use zebrafish, an in vivo model with powerful genetics and excellent live-imaging capabilities, to study the assembly of these synapses and their roles during oligodendrocyte development and nervous system function.

Learn more about the Warren Alpert Distinguished Scholars Award

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.

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

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"

Matt Labella, Ph.D., Freeman Lab
NINDS F32 Fellowship: "Molecular mechanisms of astrocyte growth control"

Jiaxing Li, Ph.D., Monk Lab
National MS Society Postdoctoral Fellowship: “Investigating synapse assembly and disassembly in oligodendrocyte precursor cells”
Warren Alpert Foundation Distinguished Scholars Fellowship: "Investigating mechanisms of neuron-oligodendrocyte precursor cell interactions"

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"