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

Friday Work–In–Progress Talks

The Friday "work-in-progress" (WIP) seminars occur weekly during the academic year and provide an opportunity for postdoctoral fellows and graduate students to share their current research projects in an interactive and less formal environment.
Find out more information on how to attend and the speaker schedule.

Research highlights

The α-crystallin chaperones undergo a quasi-ordered o-aggregation process in response to saturating client interaction.
Miller AP, O'Neill SE, Lampi KJ, Reichow SL. (2024) J Mol Biol. 436(8):168499.

Synaptotagmin-7 counteracts short-term depression during phasic dopamine release.
Lebowitz JJ, Kissiwaa SA, Engeln KA, Bowman AM, Williams JT, Jackman SL. (2024) eNeuro. 11(3):ENEURO.0501-23.2024.

The structure of the Caenorhabditis elegans TMC-2 complex suggests roles of lipid-mediated subunit contacts in mechanosensory transduction.
Clark S, Jeong H, Posert R, Goehring A, Gouaux E. (2024) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 121(8):e2314096121.

Synaptic input and Ca2+ activity in zebrafish oligodendrocyte precursor cells contribute to myelin sheath formation.
Li J, Miramontes TG, Czopka T, Monk KR. (2024) Nat Neurosci. 1038/s41593-023-01553-8.

The Na+ leak channel NALCN controls spontaneous activity and mediates synaptic modulation by α2-adrenergic receptors in auditory neurons.
Ngodup T, Irie T, Elkins SP, Trussell LO. (2024) Elife. 12:RP89520.

Inhibitory CCK+ basket synapse defects in mouse models of dystroglycanopathy.
Jahncke JN, Miller DS, Krush M, Schnell E, Wright KM. (2024) Elife. 12:RP87965.

Astrocyte growth is driven by the Tre1/S1pr1 phospholipid-binding G protein-coupled receptor.
Chen J, Stork T, Kang Y, Nardone KAM, Auer F, Farrell RJ, Jay TR, Heo D, Sheehan A, Paton C, Nagel KI, Schoppik D, Monk KR, Freeman MR. (2024) Neuron. 112(1):93-112.e10.

Functional maturation of the rod bipolar to AII-amacrine cell ribbon synapse in the mouse retina.
Kim MH, Strazza P Jr, Puthussery T, Gross OP, Taylor WR, von Gersdorff H. (2023) Cell Rep. 42(11):113440.

Single-cell RNAseq analysis of spinal locomotor circuitry in larval zebrafish.
Kelly JJ, Wen H, Brehm P. (2023) Elife. 12:RP89338.

Calcium-sensitive subthreshold oscillations and electrical coupling in principal cells of mouse dorsal cochlear nucleus.
Hong 洪卉 H, Moore LA, Apostolides PF, Trussell LO. (2024) J Neurosci. JN-RM-0106-20.

Cryo-EM structures reveal native GABAA receptor assemblies and pharmacology.
Sun C, Zhu H, Clark S, Gouaux E. (2023) Nature. 622(7981):195-201.

Molecular architecture of TMEM63 mechanosensitive ion channels.
Syrenne JT, Sonawane PJ, Murthy SE. (2023) Cell Calcium. 115:102798.

View all in PubMed

Vollum/NGP Ph.D. candidates awarded placement in SMDP

Tania Miramontes (left) and Yessica Santana Agreda (right)
Left to right: Tania Miramontes & Yessica Santana Agreda

Congratulations to Tania Miramontes and Yessica Santana Agreda for their placement in the Scientist Mentoring & Diversity Program (SMDP) program.

Tania is a 5th-year neuroscience Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Kelly Monk’s lab, investigating how cannabinoid receptor activation affects myelination development using the zebrafish animal model. Yessica is a 4th year neuroscience Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Kevin Wright's lab. Her research investigates the role of the transcription factor Islet-1 in the development of starburst amacrine cells in the retina, focusing on its effects on neuronal maturation and morphology.

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Monk lab
Wright lab

Congratulations to Vollum's Dr. Mao for her promotion!

Dr. Tianyi Mao
Tianyi Mao, Ph.D.

Congratulations to Tianyi Mao, Ph.D. for her promotion to Senior Scientist/Professor.

Her laboratory is interested in elucidating how brain circuits lead to animal behavior and how these circuits are changed under neurological and neuropsychiatric disease, such as depression, addiction, and Parkinson’s disease.

Mao Lab

Frederika Sullivan wins coveted NSF GRFP award

Frederika Sullivan

Congratulations to Frederika Sullivan, current 1st year NGP student and on rotation in the Wright lab, for her award and recognition by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP).  The purpose of the NSF GRFP is to help ensure the quality, vitality, and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. A goal of the program is to broaden participation of the full spectrum of diverse talents in STEM. 

The Vollum also congratulates Mariel Micael, a PREP postbaccalaureate in the Freeman lab, who was awarded an honorable mention. Next, Mariel is headed to UC San Diego’s Neuroscience Graduate Program in the incoming 2024 cohort.

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Wright Lab
Freeman Lab

OHSU scientists awarded funding to extend leading-edge research

Dr Arpy Saunders' Lab
Back row: Dr Alex Nevue, Kenny Pavan, Austin Schubert, Zach Goode, Emily Tiedemann, Emily Rainge. Front row: Elizabeth Kolb, Dr Lamya Ben Ameur, Dr Arpy Saunders (photo: OHSU/Christine Torres Hicks)

Recipients of the 2024 Faculty Excellence and Innovation Awards, made possible by the Silver Family Innovation Fund, include Angelica Morales, Ph.D., Arpiar “Arpy” Saunders, Ph.D., and Zheng Xia, Ph.D.

Each recipient receives a total of $750,000 over three years. The innovation fund is designed to buoy the next generation of faculty leaders at OHSU, so awardees are early- or mid-stage investigators of exceptional creativity and promise. This marks the fifth year since the annual awards began in 2020.

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Arpy's lab

Study reveals function of little-understood synapse in the brain

 Synapses  This image shows synapses across development of oligodendrocyte precursor cells: OPC (top), and myelinating oligodendrocyte (bottom). Magenta labels the morphology of the cell processes and the green labels synapses. (Contributed)
Synapses This image shows synapses across development of oligodendrocyte precursor cells: OPC (top), and myelinating oligodendrocyte (bottom). Magenta labels the morphology of the cell processes and the green labels synapses. (Contributed)

New research from the Vollum Institute for the first time reveals the function of a little-understood junction between cells in the brain that could have important treatment implications for conditions ranging from multiple sclerosis to Alzheimer’s disease to a type of brain cancer known as glioma.

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The study published today in the journal Nature Neuroscience
Monk Lab

Study reveals structure of crucial receptor in brain development, function

Chang Sun, Ph.D.
Chang Sun, Ph.D.: lead author, Gouaux Lab

Vollum scientists have revealed the molecular structure of a type of receptor that’s crucial to brain development and function.

Known as type A GABA receptors, these receptors are already targeted by pharmaceutical anesthetics, sedatives and antidepressants because of their important role in brain function. The discovery, published today in the journal Nature, reveals the dominant assemblies and states of the GABA receptor, a finding that could enable the development of new compounds that more specifically target a range of medical disorders.

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Gouaux Lab

More news and accolades

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 they receive from their mentors. Congratulations to all.

The Lacroute Fellows Program invests in School of Medicine graduate education, by supporting exceptional students performing innovative research in the Vollum/OHSU Neuroscience Graduate Program.

Congratulations to the 2023 fellows:

These 1-year fellowships cover $24,000 of the student’s stipend and provide an allowance of $1,000 for related expenses, such as attending scientific conferences or courses.

2022 Lacroute Fellows

Cody Call, Ph.D., Monk Lab
NINDS F32: Regulation of node of Ranvier formation and maintenance by astrocytes.

Alejandra Fernandez, Ph.D., Wright Lab
Collins Medical Trust: “The role of Pten signaling in the intrinsic control of somatosensory neuron diversification.

Kevin Guttenplan, Ph.D., Freeman Lab
Helen Hay Whitney Foundation: “How do astrocytes regulate neuronal circuits?”

Dongeun Heo, Ph.D., Monk/Freeman Labs
NINDS F32: "Investigating the role of diazepam binding inhibitor (DBI) in astrocytes and neural circuit maturation."

Taylor Jay, Ph.D., Freeman Lab
NINDS K99/ROO: "Investigating novel mechanisms that underlie glial-mediated synapse elimination in development and aging."

Yunsik Kang, Ph.D., Freeman Lab
NINDS K99/ROO Pathway to Independence: “How do astrocytes remodel neuronal circuits?”

Alex Nevue, Ph.D., Saunders Lab
BRAIN Initiative/NINDS F32: "Postnatal experience shapes gene expression and connectivity development in the cortex."

Cathy Spangler, Ph.D., Gouaux Lab
NIH Natl Cancer Inst: Structural and functional characterization of native AMPA receptor complexes in glioblastoma.

Dennis Weingarten, Ph.D., Jackman Lab
Grass Fellowship at MBL: "Sour patch: Electrophysiological study of synaptic transmission during hypercapnia in the lamprey.”


Landon Bayless-Edwards, Mao Lab
NIDA NRSA F30: "Intracellular signaling mechanisms underlying opioid modulation of pain"

Danica Bojovic, von Gersdorff and Mishra Labs
America Heart Association predoctoral fellowship: "Astrocyte gap junctions modulate neurovascular responses"

Hannah Collins, Monk and Emery Labs
NINDS F31: Control of CNS Myelination by the E3 Ligase Component Fbxw7

Rachel de la Torre, Freeman Lab
NINDS F31: “How do glia remodel the nervous system?”

Makayla Freitas, Gouaux Lab
National Science Foundation, Graduate Research Fellowship

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

Arielle Isakharov, Wright Lab
NEI F31 Predoctoral Fellowship: "Genetic analysis of the Robo3+ glycinergic amacrine cell"

Jennifer Jenks, Emery Lab
National Science Foundation, Graduate Research Fellowship

Omar Koita, Williams Lab
NINDS F99:Mechanistic description of tolerance/withdrawal from opioids in the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus.

Tania Miramontes, Monk Lab
NINDS F31: "Investigating the role of cannabinoid receptors in oligodendrocyte development"

Yessica Santana Agreda, Wright Lab
HHMI Gilliam Fellow: "Transcriptional Control of Starburst Amacrine Cell Specification and Maturation"

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: Milana Krush and Jed Syrenne
Second Year: Teva Bracha and Kim Engeln
Third Year: Sweta Adhikary, Amelia Culp, Makayla Freitas and Sierra Smith

Learn more about these scholars and the ARCS Foundation Oregon

Congratulations to the Neuroscience Graduate Program researchers — Ali Pincus, Prashant Rao and Petra Richer — who received 2020 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!