Dr. Nagel selected for Medical Research Foundation award

The Medical Research Foundation of Oregon announced the recipients of its 2012 awards for scientific leadership and innovation in Oregon.

Three Oregon faculty members were honored. OHSU’s Bonnie Nagel, Ph.D.,associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience and director of Pediatric Neuropsychology in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, received the Richard T. Jones New Investigator Award. 

The Richard T. Jones New Investigator Awardhonors a new investigator who shows exceptional promise early in a career in biomedical research. Nominees are judged on the basis of independence, quality of science, national funding and first or senior-authored publications in peer-reviewed biomedical research journals. The culmination of the research must have been performed in Oregon.

Dr. NagelDr. Nagel’s work on brain development during adolescence in healthy and at-risk populations has received significant attention and could have a major impact on public health.

Dr. Nagel’s work has primarily focused on understanding the development of executive, emotional and reward-based systems in the brain using neuroimaging, and how perturbations to these systems may result in increased vulnerability to psychopathy during the adolescent years. Her lab has been working toward identifying biomarkers of familial history risk for alcoholism, with the hope of establishing more targeted intervention and prevention efforts. 

“Dr. Nagel’s innovation is to look at adolescents at risk of alcoholism and identify alterations in affective neural systems related to risk very early in adolescence and well before any drug or alcohol use,” said Joel Nigg, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry. “She is on the forefront among a very small number of investigators doing this type of work, but her work is further distinguished for its focus on affective processing, whereas other studies look at functional MRI in relation to cognitive processing. Thus, the work is quite unique and unusual, and extremely important in highlighting the role of emotional regulation systems in alcoholism risk in the developing adolescent brain.”

Her role at OHSU emphasizes the translation of research across all facets of the institution’s missions. In addition to her research, Dr. Nagel sees patients as a neuropsychologist in the Department of Psychiatry, trains medical students and mentors both graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in behavioral neuroscience.

Dr. Nagel’s research has been continuously funded since obtaining her doctorate. She is principal investigator on NIH R01 and U01 grants, co-investigator on another six awards and author of more than three dozen peer-reviewed papers in high-profile journals such as The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She was awarded the 2012 Young Investigator Award by the Research Society on Alcoholism. Visit the Nagel Lab website.

Dr. Nagel earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology, with an emphasis in neuropsychology, from the University of Memphis in 2003. After completing an internship, a two-year NIMH-funded post-doctoral fellowship and a one-year academic appointment at the University of California, San Diego, Dr. Nagel joined the faculty in 2006.

The other two recipients were:

The MRF presented a Mentor Award to Christopher Minson, Ph.D., professor and head of the Department of Human Physiology and co-director of Exercise and Environmental Physiology Labs at the University of Oregon. Minson is a researcher, educator and leader whose efforts in growing biomedical research and pre-medical education at the University of Oregon have transformed his department, making it one of the preeminent pathways at the university for entry to graduate medical, dental, physical therapy and nursing programs. 

The Discovery Award was presented to Oregon State University’s Joseph Beckman, Ph.D., for distinguished achievements in neuroscience. As OSU’s Ava Helen Pauling Chair at the Linus Pauling Institute, director of the Environmental Health Sciences Center and professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Beckman has shed light on the role of oxidative stress in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. His lab’s long-range goal is to understand the causes of ALS and to identify drugs and dietary compounds with the potential to treat the disease.

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.

The awards were presented Nov. 15 at a reception in Portland.

View the media release.