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

The 2020–2021 Vollum WiP Seminars begin on Friday, August 21.

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.

Mandel lab’s second success in programmable RNA editing leads to a research ‘first’

John Sinnamon and Gail Mandel
Photo courtesy Rett Syndrome Research Trust

New ‘proof of principle’ research from the lab of Gail Mandel has demonstrated for the first time that in vivo programmable RNA editing can be used to repair mutations in mouse models of neurological disease. In the study published July 14 in the journal Cell Reports, first author John Sinnamon and collaborators introduced adeno-associated virus bearing Mecp2 guide-targeted editing enzyme or ‘editase’ into the hippocampus of a Rett syndrome mouse model. Research from the team showed that the ‘editase’ repaired approximately half of the mutant Mecp2 RNA and restored MeCP2 protein function across multiple neuronal populations.

Rett syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is caused by mutations in the gene encoding the X-linked transcription factor methyl CpG binding protein 2, or MECP2, which is critical for normal brain function. Mutations that cause Rett syndrome result in reductions in MeCP2 levels and/or disrupt MeCP2 function.

This is the group’s second success using the site-directed RNA approach and builds on research from 2017 when they successfully repaired mutant Mecp2 mRNA and restored MeCP2 protein function in cultured neurons from a Rett mouse model.

Read the press release at OHSU News
Learn more about the Rett Syndrome Research Trust
YouTube: Repairing the Underlying Cause of Rett Syndrome Through RNA Editing

Kevin Wright receives Cure CMD grant to study dystroglycanopathy

Kevin Wright, PhD

Vollum Institute scientist, Kevin Wright, was recently awarded a grant from Cure CMD to study the synaptic defects of dystroglycanopathy in a mouse model.

Dystroglycan is a transmembrane protein that connects the extracellular matrix and the actin cytoskeleton. Defects in Dystroglycan glycosylation lead to a form of congenital muscular dystrophy referred to as dystroglycanopathy. Patients with dystroglycanopathy can display a wide range of nervous system defects. Previous work from many labs, including the Wright lab, has identified critical roles for Dystroglycan in regulating neuronal migration and axon guidance. Recently, it was discovered that Dystroglycan also functions at subsets of synapses in the brain. The Wright lab will use a combination of imaging and electrophysiological approaches in several mouse models of dystroglycanopathy to define the role of dystroglycan in the formation and maintenance of inhibitory synapses in the hippocampus and cerebellum. They will also test whether restoring dystroglycan function is sufficient to rescue synaptic dysfunction in these models. Ultimately, these results will provide insight into the neurodevelopmental deficits in patients with dystroglycanopathies and test whether AAV-based gene therapies have therapeutic potential.

Cure CMD is a non-profit organization founded in 2008 by three parents whose children were affected by Congenital Muscular Dystrophy. Its mission is to find and fund high potential research and clinical trials which could lead to the development of viable therapies to slow, or even stop, the progression of CMDs.

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.

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"