Three questions for Sean Speese

Sean SpeeseSean Speese, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at the OHSU Jungers Center for Neurosciences Research.

His career has spanned 17 years of research in invertebrate model systems. 

What questions are you trying to answer in your work?

Our main overarching goal is to understand how cells regulate expression of specific genes in time and space. For example, neurons in our brains are quite large, highly arborized and can span long distances.

However, these cells are tasked with responding locally to cues in the brain, which requires them to precisely regulate gene expression in time and space. The ability of neurons to perform these actions is critical for learning and memory and gets disrupted in various neurological diseases.

What is the most important aspect of support that OHSU provides to you currently and how would you like this or other support to grow in the future?

One of the critical events that helped me launch my career at OHSU is being awarded the Oregon Scientist Development Award through the Medical Research Foundation (MRF).  This provided critically needed funding to generate preliminary data for my initial grant submissions to the NSF and NIH.

In the future I hope to see OHSU continue to support young researchers asking basic biological questions in model organisms.

If you could pick one brain health tip to share with our readers, what would it be? What do you prioritize when it comes to your own brain health?

I can’t say that this advice will apply to everyone as we all have varying genetic backgrounds and outside environmental factors, but there is a growing body of evidence indicating that regular exercise can improve brain health and function.

I myself use exercise as one of the main ways to promote my own brain health. In particular, I enjoy riding my mountain bike fast through the woods. The graduate students will attest that it is not uncommon for me to show up in lab with scrapes from a recent bike crash.


Want to hear more from Dr. Speese? He’s the featured speaker at OMSI’s Science Pub Hillsboro on August 31.