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Four MD/PhD candidates win coveted NRSA “F” awards

Four OHSU MD/PhD candidates have been awarded coveted Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service (NRSA) fellowships by the National Institutes of Health. The awards – known as “F” awards based on the coding NIH assigns them – provide stipends to support each student’s research and pay for tuition and fees. The award recipients are Daniel Cleary, Art Riddle, Kimmy Su and Rebecca Williams. These new awardees join five otherrecipients of this prestigious grant among the current MD/PhD students: Ted Braun, Jeff Chen, Aaron Grossberg, Emily Pratt and Chris Severn.

Dan Cleary’s research is in systems neuroscience under the guidance of Mary M. Heinricher. PhD, Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery. He is focusing on neural circuits of nociception (the detection of damaging or painful stimuli), and his goal is to understand how specific circuits within the brainstem work to dampen (as with administration of morphine) or increase (as with nerve damage) nociception and the perception of pain.

Art RiddleArt Riddle is working with Stephen Back, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, to identify the mechanisms of chronic brain injury related to premature birth and to gain new insights into the pathogenesis and repair of permanent neurological disabilities by combining advanced neuroimaging with classic pathological studies.

Kimmy SuKimmy Su is working with Michael Forte,  PhD, Professor, Department of Cell & Developmental Biology, and Dennis Bourdette, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Neuroscience, to study neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis (MS), specifically the involvement of mitochondrial dysfunction and reactive oxygen species production. Neurodegeneration accounts for the irreversible disability afflicting patients, untreatable with current MS drugs. Her investigation of underlying mechanisms aims to define potential therapeutic targets for the development of neuroprotective treatments.
Rebecca WilliamsRebecca Williams is working with Mary Stenzel-Poore, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology, to understand the mechanism by which CpG ODNs – small molecules that mimic bacterial DNA and stimulate the innate immune response – act to protect the brain when given in advance of an ischemic injury, such as stroke. She is investigating whether CpG ODNs change the body’s immune response to stroke by reducing inflammation, thereby reducing brain damage.

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