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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

Swetha Murthy joins the Vollum Institute

Swetha Murthy, PhD

The Vollum Institute extends a warm welcome to Assistant Scientist Swetha Murthy, Ph.D., who joined us in early December. Dr. Murthy’s research is centered on understanding the molecular details of mechanotransduction — how cells sense mechanical force and convert those stimuli into biological signals. She is a leader in the identification and characterization of new mechanosensitive ion channels in species as diverse as humans and Venus flytraps. Her research aims to understand how these channels sense force, are gated, and in turn play roles in pain sensation, tissue contraction and blood pressure regulation. Dr. Murthy joins us from The Scripps Research Institute where she trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Ardem Patapoutian.

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

2019 MRF Award honors Peter Barr-Gillespie

Congratulations to Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D., on receiving the Medical Research Foundation’s 2019 Discovery Award! This merit award recognizes an Oregon investigator who has made significant, original contributions to health-related research while working in Oregon. Barr-Gillespie was acknowledged for his pioneering work in the study of the molecular basis of mechanoelectrical transduction of the hair cell.
Learn more about the MRF Awards

Research highlights

Mechanotransduction-dependent control of stereocilia dimensions and row identity in inner hair cells
Krey JF, Chatterjee P, Dumont RA, O'Sullivan M, Choi D, Bird JE, Barr-Gillespie PG
Current Biology 2019 Dec 18; pii:S0960-9822(19)31578-7 [Epub ahead of print]

Single-cell proteomics reveals changes in expression during hair-cell development
Zhu Y, Scheibinger M, Ellwanger DC, Krey JF, Choi D, Kelly RT, Heller S, Barr-Gillespie PG
Elife 2019 Nov 4; 8:e50777

Visualizing endogenous opioid receptors in living neurons using ligand-directed chemistry
Arttamangkul S, Plazek A, Platt EJ, Jin H, Murray TF, Birdsong W, Rice KC, Farrens D, Williams JT
Elife 2019 Oct 7; 8:e49319

How to build a fast and highly sensitive sound detector that remains robust to temperature shifts
Chen M, von Gersdorff H
Journal of Neuroscience 2019 Sep 11; 39(37):7260-7276

View all

Apply now to the OHSU Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate Initiative

The OHSU Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate Initiative — a collaborative effort of the Vollum Institute, the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience and OHSU Research & Innovation — aims to provide sustained research experience and skills development for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds. Scholars accepted as part of this competitive training opportunity will receive a mentored research experience as well as tailored support around academic and professional development.

The deadline for submitting application materials is 11:59 pm PST on March 1, 2020. Apply now through the OHSU job portal.

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 our graduate researchers in the Vollum/OHSU Neuroscience Graduate Program who received ARCS Foundation Scholar Awards from the ARCS Oregon Chapter! The NGP first-year scholars for 2019 are Sweta AdhikaryAmelia CulpMakayla Freitas and Sierra Smith.

Learn more about these scholars and the ARCS Foundation Oregon

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!

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"

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

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