The Medical Research Foundation of Oregon has recognized six scientists for their exceptional research and mentorship. The 2020 awards–delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic–honor Cary Harding, Aaron Caughey, and Luiz Bertassoni. The 2021 awards honor Maret Traber, Steven Shea, and Steve Reichow.
The Discovery Award: Significant, Original Contributions
The Discovery Award recognizes an Oregon investigator who has made significant, original contributions to health-related research while working in Oregon. The 2020 Discovery Award was given to Cary Harding, M.D. and the 2021 Award to Maret Traber, Ph.D.
Dr. Harding has been critically involved in improving clinical care, designing novel and original therapeutics, and participating in clinical trials for the betterment of patients with PKU. He and his team have designed various therapeutics for PKU, including co-factor supplementation, enzyme substitution, and gene and cell therapies. He is professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics in the OHSU School of Medicine.
Dr. Traber is a pioneer in vitamin E research and arguably the world’s leading expert on vitamin E and its importance in human health.. Her landmark work continues to change paradigms in the field of vitamin E as she strives to clarify how it is metabolized, its role as an antioxidant in the developing brain, the impact of deficiency, and adverse effects of excess vitamin E. She is Principal Investigator and Ava Helen Pauling Professor, Linus Pauling Institute and a professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
The Mentor Award: Leadership, mentorship
Dr. Caughey is professor and chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology and associate dean, Women’s Health Research and Policy, in the OHSU School of Medicine. Dr. Caughey’s research focuses on applying a broad array of methodologies, from standard biostatistical techniques to decision and cost-effectiveness analysis, to address questions in obstetrics and maternal-fetal medicine. He has mentored nearly two hundred students, fellows, and faculty over the span of his career.
Dr. Shea is a professor in and director of the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, as well as a professor in the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. He drives a federally funded research program in sleep and circadian sciences, studying cardiovascular biology in people with chronic disease— and he is a dedicated and highly accomplished mentor, with a long track record of successful mentees. In addition to his direct mentees, he has had a broad impact on trainees across the country through the workshops and other experiences he has developed.
The Richard T. Jones Award: Exceptional promise, independence
The Medical Research Foundation honored Luiz Bertassoni, D.D.S., Ph.D., OHSU School of Dentistry, with the 2020 Richard T. Jones New Investigator Award and Steve L. Reichow, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry at Portland State University with the 2021 Award.
Dr. Bertassoni’s lab has built a reputation for its multidisciplinary and innovative research, emphasizing multiple areas of biomaterials, regenerative medicine and engineered models of disease. His research program is built on four identifiable strengths: nano and microscale tissue engineering; biomaterials development, with a special emphasis on biomanufacturing and 3D bioprinting; nanoscale structure and function of calcified tissues; and organs-on-a-chip.
Dr. Reichow is a biophysical chemist at Portland State University, studying the structure and dynamics of biomedically important protein complexes, with a particular emphasis on membrane and vision biology. His experimental approach capitalizes on his expertise in CryoEM, a state-of-the art technique in macromolecular structure elucidation and visualization.
About the Medical Research Foundation
The Medical Research Foundation of Oregon was created by a group of physicians in the winter of 1942. The vision of Drs. Eugene W. Rockey, Warren C. Hunter, and Adalbert G. Bettman was to “promote, encourage, and aid scientific investigation and research in the state.” Since then, thousands of Oregon researchers have launched their careers with help from the MRF. In addition to the MRF Awards, the foundation supports promising biomedical exploration and the development of research careers in clinical investigation in Oregon through a program of competitively awarded research grants.