Sue O'Shea

Crosby-Kahn Collegiate Professor
Professor, Cell & Developmental Biology
Professor, Psychiatry
Research Focus: Pluripotent stem cells, nervous system development, bipolar disorder

3051 BSRB
109 Zina Pitcher Place
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2200


Areas of Interest

Surprisingly little is known about the molecular histogenesis of the early embryo, due in part to its inaccessibility for direct manipulation. Our research has focused on using embryonic stem (ES) cells as a model of the events involved in lineage segregation, followed by studies in the intact embryo.  Since the gene expression profile of ES cells is similar to the inner cell mass and the epiblast and they are poised to undergo multi-lineage differentiation, ES cells can be a powerful model system to tease out the successive waves of gene expression and inhibition that shape the early embryo; our research is focused on the primitive nervous system.

Using human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and human embryonic stem cells (hESC), we can now study the stepwise differentiation of human pluripotent cells to a variety of human cell types that are difficult or impossible to study in the human body, including neurons and glial cells. Thus, for the first time, we can ask fundamental questions regarding gene expression during human neural differentiation.  We can probe the cellular bases of neuropsychiatric disorders with the goal of identifying the underpinnings of conditions such as bipolar disorder, and thereby identifying novel treatments.

Associated Grad Programs

Cell & Developmental Biology, Psychiatry, NAMI training grant


  • Anatomy University of Nebraska, Post-Ph.D., 1980-81 
  • University of Cambridge, England, Ph.D., 1980
  • University of Nebraska, B.A., 1976


Published Articles or Reviews

Web Sites