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

AVDS proposal for improving diversity

Alliance for Visible Diversity in Science logo

Since its formation nearly four years ago, the Alliance for Visible Diversity in Science (AVDS) has become a leader for racial justice at OHSU — pushing for policy changes to support diversity and creating educational opportunities and social events to support dialogue about systemic racism.

AVDS leadership met recently with the OHSU Board and proposed the creation of multiple Racial Equity and Inclusion (REI) Centers at OHSU.

Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate Initiative shares exciting news

2019 Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate scholars Dennisha King, Raquel Miralles and Yessica Santana
Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate scholars Dennisha King, Raquel Miralles and Yessica Santana

The Vollum Institute congratulates the scholars in the second cohort of the Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate InitiativeDennisha King, Raquel Miralles and Yessica Santana! They have had tremendous success in their mentor host labs this past year, and all three received multiple graduate school offers and will matriculate into competitive graduate programs in fall 2020.

Dennisha King is heading to the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Rochester. She was mentored by Vivek Unni in the Jungers Center.

Raquel Miralles, mentored by Skyler Jackman in the Vollum, will be attending the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Virginia.

And Yessica Santana is joining the Neuroscience Graduate Program here at OHSU. She was mentored by Kevin Wright in the Vollum.

Kim Engeln named SfN Neuroscience Scholars Program Associate

Kim Engeln

Congratulations go out to Kimberley Engeln, first-year student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP), who was recently named a Neuroscience Scholars Program Associate by the Society for Neuroscience. Engeln was recognized for her outstanding achievements completed during rotations in the laboratories of Marina Wolf, Behavioral Neuroscience, and John Williams and Skyler Jackman in the Vollum Institute.

Neuroscience Scholars Program Associates participate in a two-year program that provides scientific and professional development opportunities for neuroscience trainees from underrepresented and diverse backgrounds.

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 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!

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: Sweta AdhikaryAmelia CulpMakayla Freitas and Sierra Smith
Second Year: Gregory Hamersky and Jennifer Jahncke
Third Year: Erik Burlingame, Charles Heller and Danielle Mathieson

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”

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"

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

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

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"

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

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

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: "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"

Alejandra Fernandez receives NINDS K01 Postdoctoral Career Development Award


The Vollum Institute congratulates Alejandra Fernandez, postdoctoral fellow in Kevin Wright’s lab, who received a K01 Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for her project “The role of Pten on primary sensory neuron development”.

The main objective of Fernandez' research is to understand the contribution of the peripheral nervous system to sensory processing and the consequences of altered development of sensory circuitry. She will focus on the role of PTEN, an established autism spectrum disorders (ASD) susceptibility gene, during primary sensory neuron development. Altered sensory processing is a common feature of ASD, and PTEN is a regulator of key developmental pathways of somatosensory neurons. Therefore, the goal is to establish the relationship between PTEN-dependent cellular defects in the developing peripheral nervous system and altered circuit organization and function, thus offering fundamental insight into the mechanisms underlying a key clinical feature of ASD.

K01 grants are awarded to outstanding, mentored postdoctoral researchers — providing support to design a potentially impactful research project along with a comprehensive career development plan. By the end of the award period, the postdoctoral scholar should have a well-developed project that enables them to launch a successful independent research program.

Kathleen Beeson recognized for outstanding journal article

Kathleen Beeson

Congratulations to Kathleen Beeson, a doctoral candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program, whose paper, "α2δ-2 Protein Controls Structure and Function at the Cerebellar Climbing Fiber Synapse" was selected for the 2020 Outstanding Journal Article Award authored by an OHSU School of Medicine graduate student. The paper was published in the March 18 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, and her beautiful image of cerebellar Purkinje cells and the climbing fibers that innervate them was featured on the cover. Beeson is a researcher in Eric Schnell’s Lab.

More honors and accolades

Research highlights

Chemical and structural investigation of the paroxetine-human serotonin transporter complex
Coleman JA, Navratna V, Antermite D, Yang D, Bull JA, Gouaux E
eLife 2020 Jul 3; 9:e56427 [Epub ahead of print]

The His-Gly motif of acid-sensing ion channels resides in a reentrant 'loop' implicated in gating and ion selectivity
Yoder N, Gouaux E
eLife 2020 Jun 4; 9:e56527

Chronic treatment with morphine disrupts acute kinase-dependent desensitization of GPCRs
Leff ER, Arttamangkul S, Williams JT
Molecular Pharmacology 2020 May 3; pii: mol.119.119362. doi [Epub ahead of print]

Cerebellar Purkinje cell activity modulates aggressive behavior
Jackman SL, Chen CH, Offermann HL, Drew IR, Harrison BM, Bowman AM, Flick KM, Flaquer I, Regehr WG
eLife 2020 Apr 28; 9:e53229

View all

Vollum researchers in the news

Electron microscopy shows stair-stepping form of mature cochlear hair bundles

New research from the Barr-Gillespie lab reveals a key insight into the development of hair bundles, the intricately complex assemblies in the inner ear responsible for hearing. 

In the study published online January 2 in the journal Current Biology, first author Jocelyn Krey, Ph.D., and collaborators discovered the development of hair bundles occurs in a kind of feedback loop in which form follows function and function drives form. Form and function are mutually reinforcing.
Learn more at OHSU News
Read the PubMed abstract

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

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