APOM Basic Science Research Faculty

Nabil J. Alkayed, MD, PhD; Professor and Vice Chair

Nabil J. Alkayed, MD, PhD

Dr. Alkayed is a Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine (APOM) at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). He holds joint appointments in Neurology, Neurological Surgery and Physiology & Pharmacology. He serves on the graduate faculty of the Program for Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (PMCB) and the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP). Dr. Alkayed’s research is funded through two R01 grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke (NINDS) to study the role of small organelles called peroxisomes in ischemic brain injury, and the mechanism of vascular endothelial dysfunction after stroke in postmenopausal females.

Dr. Alkayed sits on the editorial boards of Stroke, The American Journal of Physiology–Heart and Circulation, Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism and Translational Stroke Research. He is a Fellow of the American Heart Association (AHA) Stroke Council and a member of the AHA Brain Study Section. He is also a member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) College of CSR Reviewers and frequently serves on NIH study sections. He is a member of the Association of University Anesthesiologists (AUA).

Dr. Alkayed grew up in Amman, Jordan. He earned his medical degree from Stavropol State Medical Academy in Russia and a PhD in Physiology from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, WI. After completing a postdoctoral research fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Alkayed launched his academic career as Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1998.

He joined OHSU in 2003 as Associate Professor, and in 2008 he was promoted to Professor. In 2011, he became the Vice Chair for Research.

Dr. Alkayed's Research Expertise Profile

Catherine (Kasia) Davis, PhD; Assistant Professor

Kasia Davis

After completing her doctoral studies at University College London, Dr. Kasia Davis relocated to Oregon in January 2009 to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship in the Research Division of our department.  Dr. Davis' work focuses on the role of STAT3 in cerebrovascular endothelial cells following cerebral ischemia in a mouse model. The STAT3 transcription factor is familiar to Dr. Davis since her doctoral thesis focused on the effects of STAT3 signaling on the survival and myelination of Schwann cells in vitro and in vivo. Her other projects include investigating the effect of local anesthetics on peripheral nerve myelination and a collaboration with the Cardiovascular Research Division studying the effects of ultrasound on endothelial cells.

When she takes a break from her research, Dr. Davis enjoys fitness training and going to movies, art galleries, and museums. She is also fluent in Polish and is especially interested in Polish literature.

Dr. Davis' Research Expertise Profile

Michael Hutchens, MD, MA; Associate Professor

Michael Hutchens, MD, MA

Dr. Michael Hutchens is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).  He also serves as an Attending Intensivist in the Cardiac and Surgical Intensive Care Unit.  His current research interests involve ischemic renal failure.  He is particularly interested in the profound sexual dimorphism in incidence and outcome of ischemic renal failure and the consequential implications for intervention.

Dr. Hutchens originally planned a career as a professor of English, receiving the baccalaureate degree at Oberlin College.  While studying for the Master of Arts in literature at Binghamton University, however, he became focused on medicine.  He subsequently completed premedical studies at Goucher College and entered the University of Maryland where he earned his medical degree.  After finishing a residency in Anesthesiology at OHSU, Dr. Hutchens trained as a fellow in Critical Care Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, before returning to OHSU in July 2005.

Dr. Hutchens has just been awarded a K08 mentored scientist grant to study "Sex Difference in Renal Injury After Cardiac Arrest: Mechanisms of Estrogen Action."

When he is not at the hospital, Dr. Hutchens enjoys gardening, bird-watching and playing cricket with his family.

Jeffrey J. Iliff, PhD; Assistant Professor

Jeffrey Iliff, PhD

Dr. Jeffrey Iliff is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. He also holds a joint appointment as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Dr. Iliff's research follows two main paths. This first is the exploration of how the brain's support cells, called glia, contribute to maintaining the proper environment for neuronal function and how their failure in conditions like vascular dementia, stroke and traumatic brain injury leads to neurodegeneration. The second seeks to define the basic cellular mechanisms by which brain blood flow is coordinated up and down the vascular tree.

Dr. Iliff grew up in Sequim, Washington and completed his doctoral training in 2009 in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at OHSU. He then completed two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY, where he was promoted to a research faculty position in 2012. Dr. Iliff joined the department in 2013.

When not doing research, Dr. Iliff enjoys hiking, reading, and being with his family.

Dr. Iliff from TEDMED 2014: "One more reason to get a good night's sleep"

Dr. Iliff's Neuroscience Graduate Program Profile

Dr. Iliff's Research Expertise Profile

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Ines P. Koerner, MD, PhD; Associate Professor

Ines P. Koerner, MD, PhD

Dr. Koerner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology &Perioperative Medicine and the Medical Director of the Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit at OHSU.

Dr. Koerner's research explores the role of microglia, brain resident immune cells, for neuronal injury and recovery. Her investigations of how altering the brain's immune response can reduce injury and improve outcome after stroke and cardiac arrest have been funded by the National Institute for Neurologic Diseases and Stroke (NINDS) and the American Heart Association.

Dr. Koerner earned her medical degree at Albert Ludwigs University in Freiburg, Germany and went on to complete doctoral studies in molecular neuroscience and a residency in anesthesiology and critical care at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. After completing a postdoctoral research fellowship at OHSU, she joined APOM faculty in 2007.

In her free time, Dr. Koerner enjoys camping and hiking with her husband.

Dr. Koerner's Research Expertise Profile

Julie Saugstad, PhD; Associate Professor

Julie Saugstad, PhD

Dr. Saugstad is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine (APOM) at Oregon Health & Science University, and is the Director of the APOM Core Molecular Laboratories & Training. Dr. Saugstad is also an Associate Professor in the Departments of Molecular and Medical Genetics, and Neurology, and serves on the graduate faculty of the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP) and the Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology (PMCB).

Dr.Saugstad's research is funded by NIH grants from the National Center forAdvancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). She is particularly interested in the role of extracellular vesicles and their RNA cargo (i.e., miRNAs), as novel mediators of intercellular communication, and as underlying effectors in the pathophysiology of neurodegeneration. Her NCATS-funded research is focused on identifying miRNA biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease(AD) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from living donors, with the goal of developing sensitive and specific biomarkers for AD that can be used in the clinical setting. These studies are part of the newly established Extracellular RNA (ExRNA) Communication Program (http://www.ncats.nih.gov/exrna) funded by the NIH Common Fund. The goals of the ExRNA are to discover fundamental biological principles about the mechanisms of extracellular RNA generation, secretion, and transport; to identify and develop a catalogue of ExRNA in normal human body fluids; and to investigate the potential for using ExRNAs as therapeutic molecules or biomarkers of disease. Dr. Saugstad also collaborates on studies funded by the US Army designed to examine miRNAs in CSF as biomarkers of AD risk after traumatic brain injury (TBI), an established risk factor for the development of AD. For military veterans, the odds ratio for developing AD is 4 –6x for those with a prior TBI, as compared to 2 –2.5 in the civilian population. Despite the correlation between TBI and AD, the precise mechanisms triggered by TBI that lead to AD and AD-related symptoms are not clear. These studies are designed to determine whether miRNAs dysregulated following TBI parallel those, at least in part, that contribute to the mechanisms of neurodegeneration in AD.

Dr. Saugstad is also working on NINDS-funded studies to identify mechanisms that contribute to sexually dimorphic responses to stroke in males and females. These studies are focused on identifying the immune cells that are important for brain-spleen-brain injury and inflammation following experimental stroke, whether these cells contribute to differential responses in males vs. females, and whether targeting specific immune responses can mitigate injury in both sexes. These studies are significant for their potential to develop into new, targeted therapeutic approaches that can treat stroke effectively in both males and females.

Dr. Saugstad earned her PhD in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, OK. After completing a postdoctoral research fellowship at theVollum Institute at OHSU, she joined the Department of Pharmacology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA as a Research Assistant Professor. Dr. Saugstad was subsequently recruited as a Scientist to the Robert Stone Dow Neurobiology Laboratories at the Legacy Research Institute in Portland, OR. She joined the Department of APOM in 2012.

Dr. Saugstad enjoys spending time with her husband, family, andfriends in the splendor of the Pacific Northwest.

Dr. Saugstad's Research Expertise Profile

Katie Schenning, MD; Assistant Professor

Katie Schenning

(Mentor: Michael Hutchens, MD; Senior Co-Mentor: Sharon Anderson, MD) Dr. Schenning completed MD and MPH training at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health before joining our Oregon Scholars Program in 2010. She is currently evaluating mechanisms for protection of the kidney from hypoxic injury. Dr. Schenning was recently selected as a recipient of the 2012 Renal Specialty Award, which recognizes excellence in critical care research. This award was based on her research abstract on the protective effects of hyperglycemia on hypoxic injury in glomerular endothelial cell monolayers that was accepted for oral presentation at the 2012 Society of Critical Care Medicine Meeting. She has also been elected to serve as a member of the ACGME Anesthesiology Residency Review Committee, which defines the rules for training of interns, residents, and fellows in anesthesiology and then assess whether individual programs are in compliance with those rules. Only one resident is chosen amongst the more than 3000 anesthesiology residents in the US to serve on this committee. Dr. Schenning plans to submit a Research Fellowship Grant application to the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) in 2012.

Eric Schnell, MD, PhD; Staff Anesthesiologist

Eric Schnell, MD, PhD

Dr. Schnell received a B.A. degree in Psychobiology from Harvard University, an M.A. degree in Pharmacology from the University of Cambridge (UK), and his Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience from the University of California, San Francisco. He subsequently completed medical school, an internal medicine internship and anesthesiology residency at UCSF, serving as a chief resident in his final year. He joined the Portland VA Anesthesiology Service and OHSU Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine in 2008, and was appointed to the Neuroscience Graduate Program faculty in 2013.

Dr. Schnell’s main research interest is to understand how synapses between neurons in the central nervous system are formed, maintained, and regulated, with the eventual goal of using these insights to develop therapeutic strategies for neurologic disease. His recent work focuses on the study of adult neurogenesis, which is the generation of new neurons in the adult brain. This process is an important aspect of recovery from acute neurologic injuries such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and ischemic stroke. As these newborn neurons must be integrated into existing neuronal circuits in order to contribute to information processing, an understanding of how synapse formation onto these cells is regulated and modulated will have profound clinical implications. Dr. Schnell is interested in understanding how post-injury medical care influences the magnitude and efficacy of post-injury neurogenesis, with the goal of preserving and possibly enhancing the beneficial contributions that these cells make to functional recovery.

Andrei Sdrulla, MD, PhD; Assistant Professor

Andrei Sdrulla, MD, PhD

Dr. Sdrulla is a board certified anesthesiologist and pain medicine specialist. He is a dedicated physician-scientist using basic science research and state-of-the-art technology to combat chronic pain.

He specializes in the treatment of patients with complex,persistent pain in the spine, cancer pain, neuropathic pain (e.g. complex regional pain syndrome), shingles pain (post herpetic neuralgia) andpost-surgical pain. He has advanced training in performing implantations ofspinal cord stimulators for the treatment of unrelenting pain. Dr. Sdrullastrongly believes in the multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to chronic pain championed here at Oregon Health &Science University.

When not working, Dr. Sdrulla spends time with his family,including his wife who is a nurse practitioner, and his three children. When he does get some free time to himself, he enjoys reading, jogging, playing tennis,and fly fishing.

Dr. Sdrulla's Research Expertise Profile

Laura Villasana, PhD; Assistant Professor

Laura Villasana

Dr. Villasana received her B.S. degree in Biology from the University of Houston and her PhD degree in Behavioral Neuroscience from Oregon Health & Science University. She joined APOM in 2011.

In response to traumatic brain injury (TBI), the brain increases its generation of newborn neurons within the hippocampus, a brain region critical for learning and memory. Although increases in post-traumatic neurogenesis may reflect a compensatory response possibly contributing to cognitive restoration, its exact role in cognitive outcome has not been well resolved. Recently Dr. Villasana and colleagues confirmed that TBI-induced newborn neurons functionally integrate within their network despite having aberrant dendritic morphology and localization. Thus, TBI-induced newborn neurons are capable of influencing information processing as they do establish synaptic connections. Dr. Villasana’s key research interests relates to how these TBI-induced newborn neurons influence cognitive outcome after brain injury. Furthermore as evidence suggests that women are more vulnerable to developing long-term cognitive impairments following TBI, Dr. Villasana is also interested in determining whether sex-differences in post-traumatic neurogenesis contributes to cognitive vulnerability.

When not doing research, Dr. Villasana enjoys cooking, music and spending time outdoors with friends and family.