OHSU News spotlight on researchers: Part one

For Research Week 2018, OHSU News is featuring researchers from across the university. The first three profiles highlight the work of Maria Fleseriu, M.D., Shearwood McClelland III, M.D., Uma Borate, M.D., M.S., Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D., and Justin Merritt, Ph.D.  More profiles will be published throughout the week.

Small gland, big impact: Physician uses basic science research to improve treatment of pituitary conditions

Maria Fleseriu, M.D., (pictured above) was recently elected president of The Pituitary Society, the world’s largest professional society focused on the pituitary gland. Few physicians can rival Fleseriu’s depth of knowledge about the so-called master gland that regulates hormones throughout the body — and affects everything from reproduction to sleep.

Fleseriu’s career took her from Romania where she was an endocrinologist focused on the pituitary gland, to a visiting internship at Harvard Medical School, a residency at Case Western Reserve University, a fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic and finally to OHSU, where she arrived in 2006 to join the Northwest Pituitary Center. Today, she is the center’s director and a professor of medicine (endocrinology, diabetes and clinical nutrition) in the OHSU School of Medicine. Read more.

Shearwood "Woody" McClelland, M.D.
Shearwood “Woody” McClelland, M.D.

Examining how race, gender, health insurance status impacts access among vulnerable populations with cancer

Shearwood “Woody” McClelland III, M.D., is a clinical research assistant in radiation medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine. In addition to assisting patients with cancer at the Tuality/OHSU Cancer Center in Hillsboro, Oregon, McClelland is a prolific researcher whose work has been presented at more than 30 national and international scientific meetings.

McClelland is clear about his motivation to practice medicine: “I entered this field to help people. If we wanted to help ourselves, we’d go into Wall Street.” Read more.

Uma Borate, M.D., M.S.
Uma Borate, M.D., M.S., says AML patients have more reason to hope than ever before.

Expanding options for patients with an aggressive form of leukemia

One drug for seven days, one drug for three days. This treatment, aptly referred to as “7 + 3,” has long been the standard of care for patients with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML.

Uma Borate, M.D., M.S., an assistant professor of medicine (hematology and medical oncology) in the OHSU School of Medicine and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, says the “7 + 3” treatment has been a mainstay for about 50 years. For a type of leukemia with many different genetic drivers, Borate and other leukemia experts agree the “one-size-fits all” approach needs an update.  And researchers across the country, and at OHSU, are doing just that. Read more.

Signal transduction systems, the oral microbiome and tooth decay

Justin Merritt, Ph.D.
Justin Merritt, Ph.D. studies the bacteria Streptococcus mutans, which can promote cavities and other oral diseases.

In recent years, many human diseases have been linked to dysbiosis, or disruptions in the body’s natural bacteria. Among dysbiotic diseases, digestive disorders are the most commonly recognized.

Justin Merritt, Ph.D., associate professor of restorative dentistry in the OHSU School of Dentistry, points out the connection between oral dysbiosis and oral disease has been studied for decades. Oral bacteria are better understood than any other microbes in the human body.

As an understanding of the oral microbiome grows, it could one day lead to better treatments for all types of dysbiotic diseases. Read more.

Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D.
Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D., interim senior vice president for research and professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery

Coming at research with a “real, insatiable curiosity about the world”

Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D., interim senior vice president for research and professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery in the OHSU School of Medicine does not expect the public to understand the details of his research, but he does think enthusiasm speaks loud and clear.

Science increasingly includes developing easy-to-digest elevator pitches about research and acknowledging some members of society distrust science. But Barr-Gillespie sticks to his wonder of the unknown. As interim senior vice president for research, he also supports OHSU research, which exceeded $410 million during the 2017 fiscal year, and directly oversees about $15 million in funding for research support, including the University Shared Resources Program. Read more.


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