The major focus of the research in the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Hearing Research (CMHR) is to explore hair cell regeneration in the vertebrate inner ear and determine how it can be applied to the human cochlea as a treatment for hearing loss. More than 36 million Americans suffer from some form of hearing loss that negatively impacts their lifestyle and/or their ability to work. While up to 26 million of these people acquire their hearing loss from exposure to loud sounds at work or in leisure activities, the remainder are either born deaf or are affected by other non-noise related causes. Two to three out of every 1000 children are born deaf or hard-of-hearing and half of these impairments have a genetic basis. In humans and other mammals, all of the hair cells needed for auditory function are born during embryonic life and cannot be replaced if lost or damaged by noise, ototoxic drugs, aging, or genetic mutations. In 1986, research in our lab discovered that birds, unlike mammals, are able to regenerate hair cells in the cochlea throughout their lifetimes. However, this regeneration is not continuously occurring. It only happens when the existing hair cells are damaged or die. Since first discovering hair cell regeneration, the CMHR has been focused on defining the mechanisms that regulate hair cell death and regeneration in the avian cochlear sensory epithelium and have recently also begun to explore the capability of mouse and human neural stem cells to regenerate the damaged cochlea and cochlear nerve in the mammalian inner ear. The CMHR has been characterizing gene expression in both mouse and human neural stem cells to compare them with genes expressed in other stem cell lines and with genes expressed in cochlear tissues. In addition, we have carried out transplantation studies where mouse neural stem cells have been introduced into the noise-damaged mammalian cochlea in vivo and in vitro and have exhibited differentiation into new hair cells neurons, cochlear supporting cells, and glia.


Phalloidin & TIAR (24h gent)

Phalloidin & TIAR (translocated)

Phalloidin & Bclx (basal bodies)
Primary teaching affiliate
of BU School of Medicine