Brittany Gratreak

Brittany Gratreak

Current Lab
John Streicher's Opioid and Pain Neuropharmacology Lab
Rotation Labs
John M. Streicher, Ph.D.
Kristian P. Doyle, Ph.D.

Hiii, you can call me Britt! I'm an MD/PhD student originally from a little place called Boring, Oregon. I began my PhD in Neuroscience in 2021, after completing two years of medical school and passing my first medical board exam at the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson. (I guess you could say I have an "M" degree since I'm halfway done with the MD) I am a first-generation college graduate, low-income student, and proud community college alumnus. During my long career as a physician-scientist-activist, I aspire to contribute to community college education to empower other firstgen/low-income students to pursue careers in research and medicine. I am determined to help build a more equitable, respectful research community and culture, especially for historically excluded underrepresented minorities in STEM. I strongly oppose academic hazing and bullying that persists in way too many lab environments in academia and will never, ever accept it as "normal." 

Alongside neuroscience, I also study medical education through the lens of medical student population demographics and curriculum-- or, more accurately, what's NOT in the curriculum. With a team of faculty and other medical students at UACOM-T, I help research LGBTQIA+ inclusion in medical education so that gaps are identified and future physicians receive the training they need to provide respectful care for people in the LGBTQIA+ community. We hope to share our protocol for curriculum assessment and research so that other schools can follow to improve the training of physicians nationwide. 

On the clinical side of things, I am passionate about caring for people with chronic illnesses and neurological conditions that are overlooked by physicians, often due to having unknown mechanisms or incomplete clinical understanding. I am fascinated by the overlap of neuroimmunology in the contexts of traumatic brain injury, stroke, dementia, aging, and cognitive decline associated with autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus. 

Research Summary

My current research focuses on investigating therapeutics that reduce neuroinflammation caused by Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) with the goal of preventing dementia and potentially reversing AD pathology by altering the function of evolutionarily conserved and systemically abundant chaperone proteins. Non-selective heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) inhibitors have long demonstrated robust improvement of AD pathology in numerous in vivo and in vitro models of AD, but have been clinically limited in their use by toxic side effects. I study isoform-selective Hsp90 inhibitors to improve AD pathology without dose-limiting side effects demonstrated by previous generations of non-selective Hsp90 inhibitors. Previously in my work as a graduate associate in the department of immunobiology, I investigated stroke and sickle cell disease and novel therapeutics to improve stroke recovery and post-stroke dementia. 


Sawyer, D.L. & Gratreak, B.D.K. (2022). Medical schools must do more to open the door to first generation and low income students. BMJ. 377:o1246 https://doi:10.1136/bmj.o1246

Gratreak, B.D.K.*, Swanson, E.A.*, Lazelle, R.A.*, Jelen, S.K., Hoenderop, J., Bindels, R.J., Yang, C.L., & Ellison, D.H. (2020). Tacrolimus‐induced hypomagnesemia and hypercalciuria requires FKBP12 suggesting a role for calcineurin. Physiological Reports, 8, e14316. *co-first authorship

Ferdaus, M.Z., Gratreak, B.D.K., Miller, L., Si, J., McCormick, J.A., Yang, C.L., Ellison, D.H., & Terker, A.S. (2019). WNK4 limits distal calcium losses following acute furosemide treatment. Physiological Reports, 7(17), e14195.

Cornelius, R.J., Si, J., Cuevas, C.A., Nelson, J.W., Gratreak, B.D.K., Pardi, R., Yang, C.L., & Ellison, D.H. (2018). Renal COP9 signalosome deficiency alters CUL3-KLHL3-WNK signaling pathway. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 29(11), 2627-2640. 

Conference Posters & Abstracts

*accepted, presentation pending * Gratreak, B.D.K. & Streicher, J.M. (2022). Investigating the role of phospholipase C in enhancing opioid pain relief during Hsp90 inhibition. Pending acceptance/presentation at Society for Neuroscience (SfN) 2022 Conference on November 12-16, 2022.

Gratreak, B.D.K.,  Mintz, G., Tran, B., Furman, H., Ohe, K., Miller, I., Turk, R., Wang, H., McIntosh, K., Gordon, P. (2022). LGBTQIA+ Healthcare: Comparing Competency, Comfortability, and Career Planning Among Incoming LGBTQIA+ and Non-LGBTQIA+ Medical Students. Presented at Building the Next Generation of Academic Physicians (BNGAP) 2022 LGBT Health Workforce Conference on April 21-23, 2022.

Mintz, G., Gratreak, B.D.K., Tran, B., Furman, H., Ohe, K., Miller, I., Turk, R., Wang, H., Gordon, P., McIntosh, K.. Curriculum Enrichment: Bridging Gaps to Prepare Future Physicians to Address the Health Needs of LGBTQIA+ Patients. Presented at 2022 Western Group on Educational Affairs (WGEA) Regional Conference on March 31-April 3, 2022.

Tran, B., Mintz, G., Gratreak, B.D.K., Furman, H., Ohe, K., Miller, I., Turk, R., Wang, H., McIntosh, K., Gordon, P. (2022). Pushing for Progress: Student Organizers Advocate for LGBTQIA+ Inclusion in the Medical Curriculum. Presented at the University of Arizona 4th Annual UAHS LGBTQ+ National Symposium & Community Fair by Brian Tran on Februrary 11, 2022.

Gratreak, B.D.K., Chapman, E.D., Johnson, K.E., Maiyo, B.K., Loppi, S., Doyle, K.P. (2022). Comorbid Ischemic Stroke and Sickle Cell Disease: Assessment of Neuroinflammation and Neurological Impairment After Stroke. Abstract accepted at the BRAIN & BRAIN PET conference in Glasgow, Scotland on May 29-June 1, 2022, but poster could not be presented.

Gratreak, B.D.K., Becktel, D., Espejo, L., Johnson, K.E., Maiyo, B.K. Le, E.H., Sutphin, G.L., Doyle, K.P. (2022). Synergistic effects of 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin and 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid on inflammation and birefringent crystal formation in chronic ischemic stroke infarcts. Presented at the West Regional American Physician Scientist Association (APSA) Conference hosted by Oregon Health and Science University on January 22, 2022.

Mintz, G., Gratreak, B.D.K., Tran, B., Furman, H., Ohe, K., Miller, I., Turk, R., Wang, H., McIntosh, K., Gordon, P. (2021). Curriculum Enrichment: Preparing Future Physicians to Address the Health Needs of LGBTQIA+ Patients. Presented at Building the Next Generation of Academic Physicians (BNGAP) 2021 LGBT Health Workforce Conference by Gabrielle Mintz on April 24, 2021.

Gratreak, B.D.K., Swanson, E.A., Lazelle, R.A., Jelen, S.K., Yang, C.L., Hoenderop, J., Bindels, R.J., & Ellison, D.H. (2019). Calcineurin in the distal convoluted tubule plays a key role in tacrolimus-induced hypomagnesemia and hypercalciuria. Presented at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) Research Week on May 13, 2019. 

Gratreak, B.D.K., Stippich, K., Madison, T., Kunz, A., Alexander, R., Acott, J., Clark, A., Hill, R. , Parker, G., Whittaker, A., Schoen, J., Howard, A., Voigt, A., Hootan, K. (2016). Neuroscience Club at Portland State University: Creating a multidisciplinary neuroscience community for students, teachers, and local community members. Presented at Society for Neuroscience Oregon Chapter Meeting on May 13, 2016.


  • Society for Neuroscience Trainee Professional Development Award (TPDA) (2022)
  • Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Graduate Study Award (2022)
  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Life Members Mentorship Grant for Medical Students (2021)
  • American Medical Women's Association Regional Event Grant for Regional Conference, as AMWA Region 8 Director (2021)
  • Arizona Translational Research on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias (AZ-TRADD) Fellow (2021)
  • University of Arizona Health Sciences LGBTQ+ Student Leadership Award (2020)
  • American Medical Women's Association Medical Education Scholarship (2020)
  • ScrubCaps for a Cause Scholarship (2020)
  • Jim Heller Annual Meeting Travel Grant Recipient (2020)
  • Best Student Poster Presentation Award, Society for Neuroscience Oregon Chapter (2016)
  • Biology Honors Research, Portland State University (2016)
  • Community Engagement Leadership Fellows Award, Portland State University (2016)
  • Consciousness of Self Leadership Fellows Award, Portland State University (2015)

Other Writing

Press Mentions



  • Bachelor of Science in Biology from Portland State University (2016)
  • Associate of Science Transfer Degree from Portland Community College (2013)



Research Interests

Neurology, dementia, neurodegeneration, brain injury, neuroimmunology, stroke, medical education