The Vollum comprises a vibrant and diverse scientific community focused on understanding fundamental biological mechanisms. Learn about our faculty & labs
The Vollum Institute is a privately endowed research institute at Oregon Health & Science University dedicated to basic research that will lead to new treatments for neurological and psychiatric diseases. Vollum scientists have broad-ranging interests that coalesce around molecular neurobiology and cellular physiology. Their work has transformed the field of neuroscience and, in particular, have provided important advances in the study of synaptic transmission, neuronal development, neurotransmitter transporters, ion channels and the neurobiology of disease.
Learn more about the Vollum's mission
Neuroscience Post-Baccalaureate Initiative is recruiting scholars for the 2019 program
The Vollum Institute is proud to support the new Neuroscience Post-Baccalaureate Initiative at OHSU, and two of the 2018 scholars are currently training with Vollum scientists. Applications for the 2019 program, which begins in July, are due March 1.
Get more details about the Post-Bacc Initiative and the application process
James Frank, Ph.D., joins the Vollum Institute
The Vollum Institute is thrilled to welcome Dr. James Frank, Vollum Fellow and Research Assistant Professor.
Dr. Frank received his undergraduate training in Chemistry at the University of British Columbia and was a Ph.D. student in Organic Chemistry with Prof. Dirk Trauner at the Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) of Munich. He is an expert in membrane receptor signaling and has been a leader in photopharmacology, which entails the use of synthetic chemistry to generate signaling molecules that can be reversibly switched on or off by light. Photopharmacology is similar to optogenetics, whereby researchers use light-sensitive membrane channels to activate the firing of specific neurons in intact neural circuits. Optogenetic methods have transformed the field of neuroscience and allowed researchers to determine the functional or behavioral consequences of stimulating very specific subsets of neurons. Photopharmacology allows for a similar but much finer level of molecular control of signaling in neurons — light-switchable molecules can be designed to stimulate endogenous signaling pathways and then deployed to determine how activation of that pathway in neurons regulates neuronal physiology.
While at the LMU, Dr. Frank developed a number of photo-switchable diacyglycerols (PhoDAGs) that can be used to optically control the activity of Protein kinase C (PKC), a key signaling factor downstream of many membrane receptors, and Munc13, a critical regulator of synaptic vesicle release in neurons. As a Vollum Fellow, Dr Frank’s research program will develop and exploit new light-sensitive chemical tools to explore the roles of membrane localized signaling events in neural circuit activity, and how these go awry in neurological diseases including addictive behaviors, anxiety and depression.
The Vollum Fellow Program is designed to provide the academic freedom and resources necessary for exceptionally promising young scientists to launch a research program shortly after receiving their Ph.D.
Vollum researchers in the news
Barr-Gillespie named OHSU's first chief research officer
Congratulations to Peter Barr-Gillespie who was recently named OHSU's first chief research officer and executive vice president beginning January, 2019. Barr-Gillespie has served as interim senior vice president for research at OHSU since 2017 and is a senior scientist in the Vollum Institute and professor of Otolaryngology in OHSU's Oregon Hearing Research Center.