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Galya Orr, Ph.D


Galya Orr
Galya Orr

Dr. Orr has been the lead PI on a grant funded by NIH-National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), on a STAR grant funded by the EPA, and on a grant from the Air Force Research Laboratory, where quantitative super resolution and single-molecule fluorescence imaging and molecular biology techniques have been applied to investigate the cell surface interactions and intracellular fate of nanomaterials. She has been Co-PI on NSF Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, and a member of the NIEHS consortium and Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), both focusing on predicting and guiding the development and applications of safer nanomaterials.

Dr. Orr is the capability lead for the Cell Isolation & Systems Analysis (CISA), where she heads the team in the development and applications of capabilities for biological research at the molecular level. She has been initiating and leading interdisciplinary efforts that combine the development of non-conventional quantitative fluorescence imaging and molecular biology approaches and their applications to better understand cellular and molecular processes in the intact cell. Building on her experience in electrophysiology of learning and memory, she combined single-molecule measurements to investigate dynamics - function relationships of membrane receptors. Since then, her research has been focused on molecular level understanding of information transfer across the cell membrane, initiated by physiological cues or environmental challenges.


  • Ph.D., Neuroscience, Division of Neural Systems Memory and Aging, University of Arizona, 2002
  • Ph.D. studies, Cell, Molecular and Neuroscience, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Hawaii, 1993-1995 (transferred to University of Arizona)
  • B.S., Cellular and Molecular Biology, The Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, 1984

Professional Societies

  • Society of Toxicology since 2005
  • American Society for Cell Biology since 2004
  • Biophysical Society since 2000
  • Society for Neuroscience since 1996

Honors and Awards

  • 2009-present: Panel or onsite reviewer for EPA, NSF and NIH on multiple grant mechanisms
  • 2012: Advisory board member for EPA/NSF centers for sustainable nanotechnology
  • 2015: Editorial Advisory Board member for the journal of Chemical Research in Toxicology
  • 2010: Outstanding Mentor Award, US Department of Energy, Office of Science
  • 2010: Fitzner-Eberhardt Award Nominee for Outstanding Contributions to Science and Engineering Education, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)
  • 2009-2013 NIEHS – consortium member - Nanotechnology Health Implications Research
  • 2009: NIH/NIEHS - Panel reviewer - Superfund Basic Research Program (SBRP)
  • 2009: Significant Contributor Award, Environmental Biomarkers Initiative, PNNL
  • 2000: Key Contributor Award, Biomolecular Networks Initiative, PNNL
  • 1996-1997: Academic Achievements Merit Fellowship, University of Arizona
  • 1994-1995: Academic Achievements Merit Scholarship, University of Hawaii
  • 1983-1984: Dean's list of Honors for scholastic achievements, Israel Institute of Technology Professional Societies and Services

Selected Publications

  1. Tilton S, Karin N, Tolic A, Xie Y, Hamilton Jr RF, Lai X, Waters K, Witzmann F, Holian A, Orr G. 2014. "Three human cell types respond to multi-walled carbon nanotubes and titanium dioxide nanobelts with cell-specific transcriptomic and proteomic expression patterns." Nanotoxicology 8(5):533-548.
  2. Mihai C, Chrisler W, Xie Y, Szymanski C, Tolic A, Hu D, Tarasevich B, Orr G. "Intracellular accumulation dynamics and fate of zinc ions in alveolar epithelial cells exposed to airborne ZnO nanoparticles at the air-liquid interface." Nanotoxicology (2013) Accepted Oct 22, 2013. Online ahead of print.
  3. Xie Y, Williams NG, Tolic A, Chrisler WB, Teeguarden JG, Maddux BLS, Pounds JG, Laskin A, Orr G. (2011) "Aerosolized ZnO Nanoparticles Induce Toxicity in Alveolar type II Epithelial Cells at the Air-Liquid Interface." Toxicological Sciences. (2012) 125 (2): 450-461.
  4. Orr G, WB Chrisler, KJ Cassens, R Tan, BJ Tarasevich, LM Markillie, RC Zangar, and BD Thrall. (2010) "Cellular Recognition and trafficking of Amorphous Silica Nanoparticles by Macrophage Scavenger Receptor A." Nanotoxicology, 2011, 5:296-311. Epub 2010, September 17, 2010.
  5. Orr G, Panther DJ, Cassens J, Phillips JL, Tarasevich BJ, Pounds JG. (2009) "Syndecan-1 mediates the coupling of positively charged submicrometer amorphous silica particles with actin filaments across the alveolar epithelial cell membrane." Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. 236, 210–220. Featured on journal cover.
  6. Orr G, Panther DJ, Phillips JL, Tarasevich BJ, Hu D, Teeguarden JG, Pounds JG. (2007) "Submicrometer and nanoscale inorganic particles exploit the actin machinery to be propelled along microvilli-like structures into alveolar cells." ACS Nano. 1(5)463-475. Covered by a special Perspective article
  7. Orr G, Hu D, Özçelik S, Opresko LK, Wiley HS, Colson SD. (2005) "Cholesterol Dictates the Freedom of EGF Receptors and HER2 in the plane of the membrane." Biophysical Journal. 89(2):1362-73. Epub 2005 May 20.

Contact Information

Systems Biology at PNNL

Research & Capabilities