Headshot photo of Peter G. Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D.

Peter G. Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, School of Medicine
  • Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer, OHSU Research & Innovation
  • Professor, Oregon Hearing Research Center, School of Medicine
  • Joint Appointment, Vollum Institute
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Program, School of Medicine
  • Cell and Developmental Biology Graduate Program, School of Medicine
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program, School of Medicine
  • Program in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, School of Medicine


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 rResearch at OHSU from 2014-2017 and interim senior vice president for research from 2017-2018.

From 2011 through 2020, Dr. Barr-Gillespie was also the scientific director of the Hearing Restoration Project, an international consortium with the goal to develop a biological therapy for hearing loss.

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 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 125 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 MYO1C, MYO1H, MYO3A, MYO3B, MYO6, and MYO7A 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

Education and training

  • Degrees

    • B.A., 1981, Reed College
    • Ph.D., 1988, University of Washington

Areas of interest

  • Hair-cell transduction
  • Hair-bundle development



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