Medical Research Foundation announces 2011 award winners

11/10/11  Portland, Ore.

Distinguished faculty from Oregon Health & Science University, the University of Oregon and Willamette University receive the MRF's annual awards for scientific leadership and innovation

The Medical Research Foundation of Oregon has announced the recipients of its 2011 awards for scientific leadership and innovation in Oregon. The awards were presented Nov. 9 at a reception at Portland's Governor Hotel.


  • The MRF presented a Mentor Award to J. Gary Tallman, Ph.D., the Taul Watanabe Endowed Chair of Science and director of the Office for Faculty Research and Resources at Willamette University. As a researcher and educator, Tallman has inspired countless students to pursue careers in science. His research skills and ability to attract research funding in the competitive field of cell biology have helped sustain high-caliber, internationally respected research programs, bringing great opportunities to his students. Tallman engages students with respect, gives them latitude in pursuing their interests, gives them a sense of ownership of their work, and challenges them to achieve more.
  • The Discovery Award was presented to Gail Mandel, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Vollum Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, for distinguished achievements in neuroscience. Mandel is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and the first Oregon woman to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences. She isolated and sequenced the cDNA from the mammalian sodium channel gene, helping to form the first molecular understanding of the sodium channel. Her work in gene expression provided an explanation for how neurons in the developing brain acquire their specific characteristics.
  • A second Discovery Award was presented to Chris Q. Doe, Ph.D., professor of biology at the Institutes of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience at the University of Oregon. Doe, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and world-leading developmental neurobiologist, made landmark contributions to the study of stem cell biology and cell fate patterning within the nervous system. Using a drosophila model to study central nervous system development, Doe identified a mutant fruit fly gene, dubbed Prospero, which features a defect that regulates other genes and triggers nervous system cells to change their identities.
  • The Richard T. Jones New Investigator Award was presented to Hui Zong, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology and member of the Institute of Molecular Biology at the University of Oregon. As a leader in mouse genetic modeling, Zong has made an impact on neuroscience and cancer research. Zong developed a novel method called MADM for making sparse GFP-labeled mutant clones in mice, enabling investigation of tumor-initiating stages that were inaccessible to researchers using conventional tools. He used the MADM system to study the origin of glioblastoma in the brain, and is now using it to investigate medulloblastoma, one of the most common brain tumors in children.

About the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon

Established in 1942, the MRF promotes medical research achievement in Oregon. In addition to its annual honors, it administers more than $1 million per year in research funding and early investigator grants that support the work of outstanding investigators at research institutions across the state. Such funding is increasingly necessary in today's climate. MRF grants help to sustain quality research programs, enabling Oregon researchers to compete more effectively for grants from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. In 1994, the MRF became an affiliate committee of the OHSU Foundation, retaining its own unique mission and purpose to support Oregon biomedical research.

About the OHSU Foundation

The OHSU Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that exists to secure private philanthropic support to advance OHSU's vital missions. The OHSU Foundation raises funds from individuals, corporations and organizations, and manages and invests those gifts to honor donors' wishes.