Peter G. Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D., is executive vice president and chief research officer at OHSU. In addition, he is a professor with the Oregon Hearing Research Center and an affiliated scientist with the Vollum Institute. He has been with OHSU since 1999. Dr. Barr-Gillespie was associate vice president for Basic Research at OHSU from 2014-2017 and interim senior vice president for Research from 2017-2018.
An NIH-funded investigator, Dr. Barr-Gillespie’s research focus is understanding the molecular mechanisms that enable our sense of hearing. Specifically, the Barr-Gillespie lab endeavors to determine how sensory cells in the inner ear called hair cells allow humans to perceive sound arising from the outside world. Dr. Barr-Gillespie maintains an active research program.
Dr. Barr-Gillespie is also the scientific director of the Hearing Restoration Project, or HRP, an international consortium of 14 investigators funded by the Hearing Health Foundation. The HRP’s goal is to develop a biological therapy for hearing loss arising from destruction of hair cells, which are not regenerated after damage from noise, ototoxic drug, or aging.
Dr. Barr-Gillespie earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Reed College in 1981, carrying out his senior undergraduate thesis at OHSU after a summer fellowship in OHSU’s biochemistry department. He received his doctorate in pharmacology at the University of Washington in 1988 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in physiology, cell biology and neuroscience with Jim Hudspeth, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of California San Francisco and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 1993.
Following his fellowship, he accepted a faculty position in physiology at Johns Hopkins and remained there until accepting the position of scientist at the OHSU Vollum Institute and associate professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery in the OHSU School of Medicine.
Dr. Barr-Gillespie has published more than 115 scholarly articles, chapters and reviews, and has been an invited lecturer at dozens of research universities, academic conferences and scientific events.
These are a few of Dr. Barr-Gillespie's major milestones and significant discoveries:
- Development of methods for isolation of hair bundles and analysis of constituent proteins and lipids via mass spectrometry
- Determination of roles for myosin Ic, myosin VI, and myosin VIIA in adaptation and bundle structure
- Characterization of the structure, identity, and regeneration of the tip link
- Description of homeostatic mechanisms used by hair bundle to handle Ca2+ (Ca2+ pump, ATP delivery, H+ transporter)
- Elucidation of protein expression and localization steps required for assembly of the hair bundle
Areas of interest
- Hair-cell transduction
- Hair-bundle development
- B.A., Reed College 1981
- Ph.D., University of Washington 1988