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.
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Vollum researchers in the news

Active immunization used to develop mouse model of NMDAR encephalitis

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

Research reveals a very plastic potential for Schwann cells

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

Acute bursts of exercise can prime the brain for learning

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 Undergrad Summer Research Program

2019 Vollum/NGP Undergraduate Summer Research Program participants

The Vollum Institute extends a warm welcome to the seven undergraduate scholars participating in the Summer Research Program. These talented young scientists from near and far are partnering with Neuroscience Graduate Program faculty members to pursue independent research in molecular, cellular, and behavioral neuroscience. The 2019 scholars are: Michela Mondesir, Amir Veshagh, McKay Butler, John Rinald, Bridget Fitzgerald, Christine Tan Pei Xi and Chinwendu Ughamba.

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 [Epub ahead of print]

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

Early detonation by sprouted mossy fibers enables aberrant dentate network activity
Hendricks WD, Westbrook GL, Schnell E
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2019 USA 2019 May 28; 116(22):10994-10999

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Recognition for our early career awardees

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"

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"

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