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OHSU honors faculty members awarded endowed positions

The endowments are made possible by the generosity, vision of donors
OHSU honors faculty members awarded endowed positions: From top left: Yali Jia, Ph.D., Eric Gouaux, Ph.D., Carmen Pfeifer, D.D.S., Ph.D. Bottom, from left: Kristin G. Cloyes, Ph.D., M.N., RN,  Stephen Roberts, M.D., and Marguerita Lightfoot, Ph.D. (OHSU)
From top left: Yali Jia, Ph.D., Eric Gouaux, Ph.D., Carmen Pfeifer, D.D.S., Ph.D. Bottom, from left: Kristin G. Cloyes, Ph.D., M.N., RN, Stephen Roberts, M.D., and Marguerita Lightfoot, Ph.D. (OHSU)

While the global coronavirus pandemic put a pause on many celebrations, the leading-edge discoveries and life-saving progress in the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine continued.

In recognition of their important work and thanks to the generosity and vision of donors to the OHSU Foundation, 54 outstanding faculty members across OHSU were awarded endowed positions from 2019 to 2024.

Endowed gifts play a critical role in the university’s continued growth and impact. The income generated by the endowment allows OHSU to make investments in attracting and retaining the best talent, while also developing and supporting programs that exemplify the institution’s missions of healing, teaching, discovery and outreach. This perpetual support makes a lasting impact on OHSU students and faculty, and drives OHSU’s ability to advance a host of groundbreaking research endeavors, from revolutionizing early detection of cancer to ending preventable blindness.

An endowed fund gift is a powerful investment in our collective future — an investment in hope, says Jill Eiland, interim president of the OHSU Foundation.

“Each of these generous endowment gifts is a lasting investment in the future of OHSU that will positively impact the health and well-being of people in our community,” Eiland says. “From supporting patient care to biomedical research to health education, these endowed positions advance OHSU’s ability to meet the growing health care needs of our state and beyond. Congratulations to these remarkable faculty members and thank you to our donors.”

The faculty members honored with endowed positions from 2019 to 2024 include:


Yali Jia, Ph.D.

OHSU School of Medicine 

Jennie P. Weeks Professorship

Re-appointment — May 1, 2019

Yali Jia, Ph.D., is a professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering in the OHSU School of Medicine. She is the associate director of the Center for Ophthalmic Optics and Lasers, known as the COOL Lab, at the Casey Eye Institute and co-founder of the International Ocular Circulation Society. She is a world-renowned expert in advanced ophthalmic imaging and a leading pioneer in functional optical coherence tomography, or OCT, and OCT angiography, or OCTA.

Jia’s first invention, SSADA, was a revolutionary breakthrough in translating OCTA from fundamental lab research to clinical deployments — a technique that was rapidly adopted by more than 1,000 international research and clinical centers. Her recent accomplishments include OCT oximetry and the use of artificial intelligence to detect and classify retinal pathologies.

Her contributions to the field have earned her the prestigious Special Scholar Award from Research to Prevent Blindness and the Carl Camras Translation Research Award from Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. She has also been inducted as a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and as a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors.


Eric Gouaux, Ph.D.

OHSU Vollum Institute

Jennifer and Bernard Lacroute Endowed Chair in Neuroscience Research

Inaugural appointment — January 1, 2020

Eric Gouaux, Ph.D., is a professor and senior scientist in the OHSU Vollum Institute. He leads the Gouaux Lab, which is concentrated on developing molecular mechanisms for the synaptic function using cryo-electron microscopy, x-ray crystallography and electrophysiology.   

About the endowment:  

Jennifer and Bernard Lacroute are among OHSU’s most strategic supporters of basic and translational neuroscience. They have long demonstrated their commitment to Gouaux’s pioneering work, which deepens the fundamental understanding of brain function and promises to create hope for millions of patients across the world.

The Lacroutes began to fund this position in 2015, before permanently endowing it in 2020. Accordingly, the chair will serve in perpetuity to enhance understanding of disease through research, and ultimately provide the knowledge needed to develop novel therapies and cures for a range of neurological diseases.


Carmem Pfeifer, D.D.S, Ph.D.

Weight Professor in Restorative Dentistry

New appointment — June 1, 2021

Carmem Pfeifer, D.D.S, Ph.D., is a professor of restorative dentistry (biomaterials and biomechanics) and serves as advisor to graduate theses in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry in the OHSU School of Dentistry. She has published nearly 60 research articles in dental materials sciences and serves as the reviewer for several journals in dentistry, polymer science and biomaterials, as well as for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research at NIH.

Pfeifer’s research focuses on the development of innovative polymeric materials for restorative dentistry, as well as on the development of analytical tools to characterize polymer properties evolution in real-time. Recently, she received the inventor of the year award from OHSU.

About the endowment:

The professorship was established in 2016 through a generous estate gift from Ula Clayton Weight, D.M.D. Clayton was a proud OHSU School of Dentistry alum, who directed his estate to benefit restorative dentistry at OHSU.


Marguerita Lightfoot, Ph.D.

OHSU School of Public Health

Ronald Naito-John McAnulty Professorship in Health Equity

New appointment — June 8, 2022

Marguerita Lightfoot, Ph.D., is the associate dean for research at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. Her research focuses on improving the health and well-being of adolescents and young adults, and on the development of culturally competent, efficacious interventions to reduce acquisition and transmission of HIV among populations disproportionately burdened by the epidemic.

Lightfoot has had a distinguished career in community-engaged research, receiving awards for her community partnership efforts. She has obtained NIH funding to design and implement HIV preventive interventions, including culturally tailored interventions for adolescents in the juvenile justice system, runaway and homeless youth, youth living with HIV, young MSM and adults living with HIV.

Outside of OHSU, she serves on the National Advisory Mental Health Council and on the editorial boards of American Psychologist and Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology. She was recently named associate editor for the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.  

About the endowment:

When Ronald (Ron) Naito, M.D., was hospitalized with stage IV pancreatic cancer, he reflected on his life. He thought about his OHSU School of Medicine mentor, John (Jack) McAnulty, M.D., who changed the way Naito lived his life and practiced medicine. Naito wanted to honor McAnulty and encourage colleagues to join in creating a philanthropic fund in his honor.  

McAnulty requested that the fund reach beyond cardiology to address fundamental public health issues. He knew that flaws in the health care delivery system prevent him from treating those lacking knowledge of or access to high-quality services.

They landed on a gift to the OHSU-PSU School for Public Health, investing in education, research and mentoring the next generation of public health leaders. Naito provided the seed money for what is now the Ronald Naito-John McAnulty Health Equity Endowment to support people and programs that advance health equity and social justice around the globe.    


Stephen Roberts, M.D.

OHSU School of Medicine

Robert C. Neerhout Chair of Pediatric Oncology

Re-appointment — March 1, 2023

Stephen Roberts, M.D., is a professor of pediatrics in the OHSU School of Medicine, and associate director of pediatric oncology in the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, as well as the head of the pediatric hematology oncology division. 

Roberts is an expert in neuroblastoma, a rare tumor of the adrenal gland. His laboratory research focuses on understanding how neuroblastoma develops, with the goal of identifying new and less toxic ways to treat the disease. He is part of OHSU’s childhood cancer research program.  

About the endowment:

Initially established with a gift from the family of Robert C. Neerhout, M.D., FAAP, former physician-in-chief for OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics for 18 years. Neerhout was the first pediatric oncologist in Oregon. During his tenure at OHSU and Doernbecher, he treated thousands of children with cancer and trained hundreds of pediatricians. 

In 2000, the Jack and Melba Dietrich Charitable Remainder Unitrust provided additional funds, transforming the endowment to benefit a chair at Doernbecher.    


Kristin G. Cloyes, Ph.D., M.N., RN

OHSU School of Nursing

Elnora E. Thomson Distinguished Professor

New appointment — March 1, 2024

Kristin G. Cloyes, Ph.D., M.N., RN, is the Ph.D. program director and a professor in the OHSU School of Nursing. Her research investigates the social contexts of family and unpaid caregiving, particularly for people and communities that have been historically underrepresented and underserved in health care research and services. The research program focuses on how the informal, personal networks of family, friends and close others provide caregiving and social support for people with chronic illness and at end of life, with the goal of generating real-world, real-time understanding of social support resources and needs.

Cloyes mentors interdisciplinary researchers and scholars at all levels of development who are passionate about pursuing research careers at the intersections of social and health equity, caregiving, chronic illness and end-of-life.

About the endowment:

The Elnora E. Thomson Distinguished Professorship was established in 2001 by Elizabeth and John Gray.

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