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

Work-in-Progress Seminars via Webex

Friday | June 5, 2020 | 12–2 pm

Molecular architecture of the songbird motor cortex
Alexander Nevue, Graduate Student, Mello Lab

Where do I feel this way?: Towards a comprehensive connectome of the mouse amygdala
Michael Muniak, Asst. Staff Scientist, Mao Lab

All members of the OHSU community are welcome to attend if interested.
Learn more about the Friday WiP Seminars Series and get the Webex link

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

NIDA NRSA-F30 awarded to Sweta Adhikary

Congratulations to Sweta Adhikary, a second-year MD/PhD student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program who received a NIDA F30 National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellowship for her project “Adaptations following chronic opioid treatment and withdrawal”.

Sweta Adhikary

Adhikary’s research will focus on the pathophysiology of opioid use disorder at a single neuron level — examining the cellular level changes that occur after chronic opioid treatment and how these changes mediate withdrawal. Specifically, Adhikary will study the various molecular and physiological adaptations that occur after prolonged opioid use and will attempt to identify the factors that can prevent these changes.

The purpose of the Kirschstein-NRSA F30 fellowship is to enhance the integrated research and clinical training of promising predoctoral students in dual-doctoral degree programs, and who intend careers as physician-scientists or other clinician-scientists.

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!

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"

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"

Research highlights

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

α2δ-2 protein controls structure and function at the cerebellar climbing fiber synapse
Beeson KA, Beeson R, Westbrook GL, Schnell E
Journal of Neuroscience 2020 Mar 18; 40(12):2403-2415

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 2020 Feb 3; 30(3):442-454.e7

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

Upcoming Vollum events