Chain of Love

NSU professor of pharmaceutical sciences Robert Speth, Ph.D. and his wife Janet

Robert Speth, Ph.D., is a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at NSU who is internationally recognized for his work as biomedical researcher. He and his wife, Janet, are supporters of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) research. Their son, Tim, who was diagnosed with DMD at 18 months, passed away from the disease at the age of 20.

While Speth’s current research focuses on how the brain regulates the cardiovascular system to gain knowledge that can help prevent cardiovascular disease, the leading killer of Americans, he is working with a researcher in Iowa studying Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, for whom his expertise on the brain angiotensin system may provide important clues into the mechanisms of this disease. Speth’s research team is also pursuing novel mechanisms of the angiotensin system including its association with lung, colorectal and breast cancer. Speth is also investigating neurodegenerative diseases, with a special interest in prion diseases, of which “Mad Cow Disease” is the most notorious representative.

Creating research opportunities for NSU students is of the utmost importance to Speth. “As much as I do science because I want to contribute new knowledge, the greatest rewards I have received as a researcher have been to witness the successes of the students that I have mentored,’’ Speth said. “The pleasure of knowing that I helped provide an additional perspective on life by learning what it’s like to work in a research lab never grows old. I hope to continue to provide students this training opportunity.”

Janet Speth has hopes, too. “In helping students with their careers, we’re also supporting research that may help find a cure for muscular dystrophy and other diseases. “Those are personal issues for us,” she pointed out.

Speth’s favorite country song is Clay Walker’s The Chain of Love. The lyrics are his motivation. “You don’t owe me a thing; I’ve been there too. Someone once helped me out just the way I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here’s what you do. Don’t let the chain of love end with you.”

Speth said the song underscores what he learned from his mentor Henry I. (Hank) Yamamura, Ph.D., when Speth was a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Pharmacology at University of Arizona, Tucson.

 “I credit 95 percent of my success as a biomedical researcher to him. He made a lifelong commitment to me, and his spirit continues to be my greatest inspiration. What matters is keeping alive what Hank showed me, and I instill that in my students to continue the chain of love,” Speth said.

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