Science research budgets run dry

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Portland Tribune

By: Peter Korn

Rachel Clemens-Grisham has wanted to be a scientist since high school, when she and her science club classmates collected water samples from ponds and tested them for pollutants.

A college biology degree led to a doctorate program in molecular biology (Clemens-Grisham will defend her dissertation this month). For the past five years she has worked as a researcher in the lab of Oregon Health & Science University associate professor Teresa Nicolson, investigating how proteins move from one area of a cell to another.

If you had asked Clemens-Grisham five years ago where she was heading, she would have said she was looking forward to a career as a university faculty scientist. She would pursue her own research, probably something to do with neurobiology, with graduate students assisting her.

Talent isn’t a problem. Nicolson says Clemens-Grisham has the skills to be productive in the lab and to become a fine scientist, conducting her own studies some day.

Talent also isn’t a problem for Maureen Hoatlin, who co-chairs OHSU’s rare disease consortium. In 2011 Hoatlin was awarded a patent after discovering a new way to screen compounds that block or amplify molecular pathways involved in cancer. Hoatlin believes that in time her discovery could help lead to a breakthrough in cancer research. But her research stopped when her funding from the National Institutes of Health disappeared last year.

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