OHSU, Portland State University collaborate to advance human health

Collaborative Life Sciences Building

Six OHSU-PSU research teams have received new seed funding grants from the OHSU-PSU Collaborative Seed Grant Program.

Collaborative research teams investigating health-related issues ranging from burnout among adults with autism and suicidal behavior to identifying damage in structural concrete have received funding from the 2018 OHSU-PSU Collaborative Seed Grant program.

The goal of the program is to stimulate new research among PSU and OHSU scientists. Six teams comprising individuals whose complementary skills and expertise intersect in ways that create particularly strong paths to innovation were selected to receive pilot funding.

Projects that build on complementary skills and expertise

One funded project with some urgency for Oregonians will develop methods to quickly and accurately assess the integrity of structural concrete following an earthquake. The transdisciplinary project brings together structural engineering and advanced diagnostic imaging experts from the two universities.

Thomas Schumacher, Ph.D., assistant professor at PSU, focuses on non-destructive evaluation of concrete structures. He will collaborate with Xubo Song, Ph.D., professor of computer science and electrical engineering in the OHSU School of Medicine, who investigates machine learning, image processing and analysis, and computer vision.

The team’s goal is to translate diagnostic imaging from the medical domain to imaging structural concrete. The project has the potential to bring significant advancement for the fields of civil as well as mechanical and materials engineering

“Portland State and OHSU have a rich history of partnerships that have enriched the exploration of science and community health issues at both institutions,” said Mark McLellan, Ph.D., PSU’s vice president for research and graduate studies. “The projects selected to receive seed funding combine the strengths of our researchers to address complex challenges that will positively affect our local community and the world beyond.”

Priority for this round of funding was given to investigators working on new collaborations

“In most cases, investigators have not worked together previously on funded research,” said Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D., senior vice president of research at OHSU. “In other cases, investigators already have active collaborations and this funding provides opportunities to take their research in a new direction.”

Another collaborative project will use a community-based participatory research approach to develop a deeper understanding of and metrics around burnout among autistic adults and suicidal behavior. Burnout has been identified as a factor in suicidal behavior among adults with autism, but has not been studied. The team includes Alan Teo, M.D., an OHSU researcher with expertise in suicide and burnout, and Dora Raymaker, a PSU expert in autism and instrument development.

The projects also will bring together an interdisciplinary team focused on mental health, virology, molecular microbiology, biochemistry, materials science and restorative dentistry.

Results from the seed-funded projects will be used to develop and submit external funding requests to agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

2018 OHSU-PSU Collaborative Seed Grant recipients:

  • “Structural fidelity and viability of flaviviruses following reversible silicification” — William Messer, Ph.D., OHSU; and Ken Stedman, Ph.D., PSU
  • “Statistical learning of longitudinal MRI for predicting breast cancer response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy” — Bruno Jedynak, Ph.D., PSU; and Wei Huang, Ph.D., OHSU
  • “Pilot study on autistic adult burnout and suicidal behavior” — Dora Raymaker, Ph.D., PSU; and Alan Teo, M.D., M.S., OHSU
  • “Mechanisms of cullin3-deficiency-induced renal injury” — James McCormick, Ph.D., OHSU; and Jeff Singer, Ph.D., PSU
  • Diagnostic imaging of structural concrete” — Thomas Schumacher, Ph.D., PSU; and Xubo Song, Ph.D., OHSU
  • “Engineering biomimetic bone models of health and disease with nanometer-scale precision” — Luiz Bertassoni, Ph.D., OHSU; and Tony Chen, Ph.D., PSU

OHSU and PSU have committed to fund the program for one year and hope to be able to provide additional rounds of funding in the future.