Welcome to the Vollum Institute/OHSU Neuroscience Graduate Program

Founded in 1992, the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP) at OHSU has 53 predoctoral students and more than 140 faculty in a broad range of subdisciplines. The program is intended for students planning a career in academic or industry research, but we encourage student to explore the career path that matches their ambitions and expertise. The program is particularly strong in cellular neuroscience, neuronal signaling, gene regulation, biophysics of channels and transporters, sensory systems, and neuroendocrinology with increasing strength in developmental neuroscience and disease-oriented neuroscience research. Faculty members are located within research institutes at OHSU including the Vollum Institute, the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC), Oregon Hearing Research Center, Jungers Center and the Oregon Institute for Occupational Health Sciences; as well as the basic and clinical departments in the OHSU School of Medicine.

Learn More About Our Program


Women in Science PDXRecently, Women in Science (WIS) PDX sat down with directors, Drs. Marc Freeman and Kelly Monk, to talk about the Vollum Institute's support of WIS and commitment to increasing the number of women scientists as part of a sponsor spotlight for their upcoming 1st Annual Fundraising Gala on Thursday, September 20, 6-9pm. Read the full interview and learn more about the gala here.

Graduate Student Marc Meadows at FENSMarc Meadows was 1 of 15 trainees to receive a $2,000 award to attend the biannual Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) Forum held in Berlin, Germany in July 2018.  He presented his research on exo- and endocytosis at an inhibitory synapse in the retina. The scope of Marc's work has broad impacts on our understanding of inhibitory synaptic vesicle dynamics and the pre-processing of visual information. Congratulations, Marc!

Danielle and Daniela eLifeNGP alumna, Danielle Robinson and current NGP student, Daniela Saderi are attending the first  eLIFE innovation Sprint in Cambridge, UK.  It's a two-day intensive hackathon, in which technologists, researchers, developers, science communicators and more are working together to innovate in scholarly communication. Daniela is personally working with a team of technologists from eLife and other researchers to develop PREreview 2.0 and write a short proposal for a Sloan Foundation grant.  Have a great time you two! 

YoderCongratulations to NGP student, Nate Yoder on his new paper in Nature

For the first time, researchers in the Vollum Institute have determined the atomic structure of an acid-sensing ion channel (ASIC) in a resting state at high pH.  ASICs are expressed in neurons throughout the nervous system and contribute to a variety of neurological processes including pain sensation and fear memory formation. ASICs populate three functional states, existing in a resting state at high pH, opening in response to low pH and desensitizing within milliseconds. In their manuscript, published recently in the journal Nature, Yoder, Yoshioka and Gouaux used a combination of x-ray crystallography and single-particle cryo-electron microscopy to determine the structure of the resting channel. Additionally, the authors were able to determine the molecular mechanisms that allow the channel to respond to changes in pH by comparing the structure of the resting channel with those of the channel in open and desensitized states published in 2014 and 2009, respectively. These findings improve our understanding of how the nervous system responds to pH and provide a blueprint for the design of molecular agents to aimed at targeting these channels. 

OHRC FacultyThe Oregon Hearing Research Center (OHRC) at OHSU is a world leader in studies of auditory neuroscience, ranging from cochlear development to cortical processing.  Many OHRC faculty have joint appointments in the Vollum Institute as well.  An article in today's Oregonian highlights that a number of OHRC faculty are themselves hearing impaired, and so students in NGP learn about hearing disorders and their treatments from lecturers with first-hand experience.  Click here to read today's front page Oregonian article.

Maria PuriceGlia perform important immune functions to defend the brain against toxic insults and minimize damage after injury. In the aging brain, it has been proposed that changes in glial immunity may be related to the onset of some neurodegenerative diseases. We used a well-established acute axotomyassay in Drosophila to examine how key features of glial immunity are altered with age. Our studies show that in the aging brain glial engulfment of neurodegenerative material is dysfunctional due to down regulation of the Draper receptor at the protein level, as a result of decreased PI3K92E activity and translation efficiency. Additionally, we demonstrate that aged Drosophila olfactory nerves are delayed in initiating Wallerian degeneration after injury, similar to what has been previously shown in mammals. However, increasing Draper/PI3K92E activity in the aging brain was sufficient to rescue both reduced Draper expression and delayed glial clearance of severed axons after injury. This work highlights reduced glial engulfment activity as an intriguing candidate mechanism for age-related vulnerability to neural damage and disease.  Congratulations to Maria Purice on her important publication in Nature Communications!

RobinsonWe are proud to announce that Danielle Robinson, a PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program, has been awarded a 2016 Mozilla Fellowship for Science. This highly competitive program supports the work of early career researchers who want influence the future of scientific communication and data sharing within their communities. Already a student leader in this area, Danielle has championed digital literacy, openness, and collaboration as a co-organizer of Open Insight PDX and Science Hack Day Portland. She is also a founding member of Women in Science Portland. 

Throughout her fellowship year, Danielle will receive support from Mozilla to hone her skills, lead outreach initiatives, and develop local resources around open source, data sharing, and science policy through mentorship at Mozilla, the OHSU Library, and the OHSU School of Medicine. We are excited that Danielle will be able to grow her work as thoughtful and passionate advocate for open science, collaborating with OHSU faculty, students, and administrators to support the knowledge and practices that are key to the creation and communication of impactful research.

Congratulations Danielle!

Foster, AntoinetteAntoinette Foster, starting her 3rd year in the Vollum/OHSU Neuroscience Graduate Program, has been awarded a Gilliam Fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study program awards a select number of fellowships nationwide to outstanding scientists who are pursuing a PhD in the life sciences and who are committed to increasing diversity among scientists. The 3-year fellowship not only provides financial support, but also the opportunity to attend meetings with HHMI scientists and receive professional development mentoring as part of the program. Antoinette was nominated from OHSU by the directors of the NIH training grant, T32NS007466, "Multidisciplinary Training in Neuroscience" and is pursuing her thesis research in the laboratory of Ben Emery in the Jungers Center. Congratulations, Antoinette!