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Student Spends Summer Advancing Research on Usher Syndrome

October 23, 2019

by Yancee Gordon BA ’21

Brendan at his summer research lab at OHSU.Brendan at his summer research lab at OHSU.Brendan Creemer BA ’21 spent his summer as a laboratory intern at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). He researched the problem of immune rejection caused by stem cell transplantation, with the goal of finding a possible treatment for Usher Syndrome, which is characterized by progressive loss of vision and hearing. There is currently no cure. The research has a particular significance to Creemer, who has Usher Syndrome. 

“I thought my work was very productive and I was glad to have helped the scientists advance their research, even in the slightest,” said Creemer. “I am glad the progress has gone as far as it is, but I still think it has a ways to go to find a cure in time for myself and others.”

OHSU has been welcoming summer interns for decades to help with innovative research, but this is the first time an intern has the condition they are hoping to treat. Dr. Martha Neuringer, the supervisor of the program, said Creemer’s presence and diligence provided additional motivation for the research. 

“I’ve been working for many years on retinal diseases and potential therapies without that personal connection,” said Neuringer, a professor at the Oregon National Primate Research Center and a research associate professor of ophthalmology in the OHSU School of Medicine. “It’s all the more motivation when you know what it’s like for someone facing this.”

“There are times where I wish the research could be going faster, and that only fueled my determination to work as hard as possible this summer,” Creemer said. 

A biology major at Lewis & Clark, the Palo Alto, California, native felt well prepared for this internship opportunity. As he continues his studies, he has found similarities in the work he does on campus and that he completed during his internship. 

“I was inspired to go down this path in high school, and I felt really prepared for my work at the internship thanks to my classes at Lewis & Clark.”

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