NIH director, Francis Collins, posted a blog entry this week showcasing the work of Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D., professor of otolaryngology in the OHSU School of Medicine and associate vice president for basic research at OHSU. The post provided a snapshot of Barr-Gillespie’s research and also featured an image of sensory hair cells captured by Barr-Gillespie and Kateri Spinelli, Ph.D., at the time a student in Barr-Gillespie’s lab.
One focus of the Barr-Gillespie lab’s research is on sensory hair cell regeneration following damage, whether from noise exposure, injury, or disease. In humans, such damage can result in permanent hearing loss but the lab has found that in chickens, supporting cells have the ability to regenerate sensory cells within a couple of weeks and restore hearing. They are working to better understand these cells in the chicken to examine possible treatment options for hearing loss in humans.