NGP News Archive

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!

NGP Graduate Students Nate Yoder and Will HendricksCongratulations to 2nd year NGP students Nathan Yoder (Gouaux lab) and Will Hendricks (Schnell lab) who received NIH F31 predoctoral fellowships in 2016. They join 12 other current upper level NGP students (above year 2) that have received individual NSF or NIH fellowships, nearly 50 % of those eligible.

Borghes Merjane CoverCongratulations to NGP Alumna (2015) Carolina Borges-Merjane on her paper "ON and OFF Unipolar Brush Cells Transform Multisensory Inputs to the Auditory System" published in Neuron for this year's OHSU Award for Outstanding Journal Article by a Graduate Student.

NGP Graduate Student Chris VaagaCongratulations to NGP students, Reena Clements (photo below) and Christopher Vaaga, on their 2015 LaCroute Neurobiology of Disease Fellowships (formerly known as the OBI Fellowship). Out of 24 applications, these were the two selected by the OBI Research Committee. Congratulations to both of you!

NGP Graduate Student Reena ClementsReena Clements, a 3rd year NGP student in Dr. Kevin Wright's lab, was selected to participate in the OMSI Science Communication Fellowship Program. As a Fellow, Reena will participate in professional development workshops to hone her skills at communicating science to a general audience. She will also participate in OMSI's "Meet a Scientist" program, where she will be able to share her research with museum visitors. Reena is very dedicated to science outreach and currently volunteers with middle and high school students through the Brain in the Box and OnTrack programs at OHSU. She is excited for the opportunity to share her passion for science with the broader community as an OMSI Fellow.

Robinson photoDanielle Robinson, a 5th year Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP)student, has been selected to attend OpenCon 2015 with a full travel scholarship, in Brussels, Belgium this November. Shelley Mason, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology and founder of, was also selected to attend. The travel award is made possible by a grant awarded to the OHSU Library, "Catalyzing a Culture of Open Science", funded by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, and is part of a year-long project to support scientific communication education and Open Science advocacy.  

OpenCon is a small conference that brings scientists together with other academic professionals to discuss issues of Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education. Organized by the Right to Research Coalition, the conference is focused on skills development and facilitating connections with policymakers and Open Science leaders. 2015 speakers include Michael Eisen (UC Berkeley, HHMI) and Patrick Brown (Stanford), co-founders of the Public Library of Science (PLOS).

Danielle first became aware of the Open Access movement through reading Open Access publications like eLife, where NGP Program Director Gary Westbrook is a senior editor. At OpenCon, she will receive mentorship and training in critical communication and technical skills to bring back to OHSU and advance the cause of Open Science in the Pacific Northwest. Danielle is interested in bringing speakers and events to campus to help early career scientists build practical data transparency and data sharing skills, particularly critical in light oft he Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), which is sponsored by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and recently received unanimous committee approval. She is also interested in bringing workshops to campus to strengthen computer programming skills to allow researchers to take advantage of the latest open access data analysis and visualization methods.

Danielle is a PhD Candidate in the lab of Fred Robinson (no relation) where she studies the inherited peripheral neuropathy Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 4B2 (CMT4B2). She is an NSF Graduate Research Program Fellow and an ARCS Scholar. She is also a founding member of the OHSU Women in Science Organization, the Science Policy Discussion Group, and the Data Science Interest Group.

ZevEinhornAn update from Zev Einhorn, Class of 2012. 

Hope all is well in lovely Portland. I wanted to give you a brief update. I completed my Ph.D. with Teresa Nicolson in November 2012 and started a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania. I switched from neuroscience to immuno-oncology for which I proposed to study how macrophages interact with invasive cells in a cancer-like model. I got a competitively funded fellowship grant from  NIH, the F32 NRSA. In my third year of the postdoc I'm about to submit my first co-first author paper and expect to have another first author paper submitted by the end of the year.

As you know the landscape for all levels of scientists has shifted and I had the privilege of talking with Dr. Bruce Alberts about how science can be reformed. Despite all the gloom and doom sentiments often expressed there are many opportunities for Ph.D.s and outstanding resources that can be easily found. One of the many clear sighted aspects of my training at OHSU was the requirement to give 2 talks a year. This pushed me to overcome my fear of speaking pretty quickly, at first at the Vollum and then later externally, and by the end I really enjoyed giving talks. As I'm applying for positions, it is essential to showcase that I have interacted with key leaders in my field, and the requirement to give talks is a great starting place. My own choice is to apply for positions as a Medical Science Liaison, or life specialist consultant, as well as scientist positions in Pharma/Biotech. Thanks for all the support over the years. I would be happy to talk with Ph.D. candidates who might want to know more about the versatility of a Ph.D. I have discovered a lot of tools and resources that can help those interested would be happy to share.

GardnerNGP Alumnus, Ryan Gardner, in the Habecker Lab, has authored a paper recently published in Nature Communications.  The paper, "Targeting protein tyrosine phosphatase after myocardial infarction restores cardiac sympathetic innervation and prevents arrhythmias," has implications for patients who survive a heart attack, and remain at risk for severe cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.  Until now, we had always assumed that arrhythmias were mainly due to damage and death of heart cells. Our study is the first to suggest that treatments targeting nerve regeneration can normalize electrical activity and prevent arrhythmias in heart attack survivors. This exciting finding opens the door to an entirely new avenue of anti-arrhythmic therapy.


Congratulations to Drs. Larry Trussell and Stefanie Kaech-Petrie on their awards for Teaching Excellence in Graduate Education for the 2013-14 academic year.  These awards are particularly special as they are student initiated. Congratulations to you both!

mao_jeannie-hunnicutt_1NGP student, Jeannie Hunnicutt in the Mao Lab, has coauthored  a paper recently published in Nature Neuroscience.  "Using a combination of high-throughput imaging and computer reconstructions, the cortical targets of 254 thalamic tracer injections were mapped in the mouse brain. This provides in the first comprehensive map of thalamocortical projections in mouse, an invaluable tool for future studies investigating the functional properties of thalamocortical circuits."

ApostolidesCongratulations to 2014 NGP Graduate, Pierre Apostolides, PhD on the 2014 John A. Resko PhD Dissertation Award for his thesis titled "Cellular and Network Mechanisms for Generating Inhibition in the Mouse Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus."  Dr. Apostolides (Trussell Lab) had just began his postdoctoral fellowship at Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm when he received the good news.  Congratulations, Pierre!

Gantz PhotoCongratulations to NGP student Stephanie Gantz on the 2014 Outstanding Journal Article by a Graduate Student Award.  Ms. Gantz's (Williams Lab) article titled "Spontaneous inhibitory synaptic currents mediated by a G protein-coupled receptoron" was published in Neuron  in June of 2013.  Stephanie will receive her award during the 2014 OHSU Research Week where she will have an opportunity (May 3rd, 4pm, OHSU Auditorium) to give a short presentation on her paper.  Congratulations, Stephanie!

SpinelliCongratulations to Kateri Spinelli, PhD, NGP alumnus, who was recently selected as a Society for Neuroscience Early Career Policy Fellow! During this one-year program, Kateri will continue doing research full time in her post-doctoral position at OHSU, but will also work to advocate locally and promote public dialogue around neuroscience research. The goal is for young scientists to become effective advocates for science, and SfN will provide tools and training to fellows to develop communication skills that enhance public engagement in neuroscience. All fellows will have the opportunity to attend SfN Capitol Hill Day in March, where they will interact with policy makers to convey the importance of funding neuroscience research. Over the year, Kateri plans to partner with the OHSU Brain Institute and the Oregon chapter of SfN to share with other scientists what she learned at Hill Day, and to engage the public in local neuroscience news, including exciting advances in research and policy/funding decisions that effect neuroscience at OHSU.

BaconguisIsabelle Baconguis, 2012 NGP Alumna, has received an NIH Director's Early Independence Award. This program supports "exceptional students who have the intellect, innovation, drive, and maturity to flourish independently without the need for traditional postdoctoral training." Thirty-one candidates were selected as finalists for this award, based on the quality of the graduate work, training environment, and potential as an independent investigator.  Isabelle's proposal received  high praise from the reviewers which speaks highly about the NGP, her training with Eric Gouaux, her project on ENaC structure, and, most importantly, Isabelle's potential as an independent investigator.  Congratulations, Isabelle!