Biology of the Inner Ear Course

Course Date: Coming 2019

Packed within the inner ear are the tiny sense organs for detecting sound, and head and body movements, which are essential for social communication and our ability to move efficiently through the world. The structure of each end-organ and its mechanosensory hair cells and innervating neurons are specified to capture different stimulus qualities. The Biology of the Inner Ear Course (BIE) course is designed to address the particular challenges of studying the scarce, difficult-to-reach components of the inner ear, to provide the analytical framework to understand inner ear function, and to explore that function at the systems level. This three-week multi-disciplinary course provides instruction and hands-on laboratory training in cutting-edge techniques and specialized methods to meet the special challenges of inner ear biology. Students are introduced to the fundamentals of inner ear research through lectures, research seminars, roundtable discussions, and side-by-side interactions with faculty in the laboratory. The course fosters future inner ear investigation, emphasizing not just what is known, but also the opportunities for discovery, innovation, and translation into better understanding of the inner ear. The course is designed to accommodate a relatively small number of students and is suitable for individuals with backgrounds in the biological, chemical, physical/computational sciences, and medicine.

The laboratory takes a comparative approach to illustrate the commonalities and specific lessons available from fish to mammals. Techniques taught range from the methods of molecular, cell and developmental biology, to single unit and field potential recording in the auditory nerve and brainstem. There is an emphasis on high resolution fluorescence microscopy of inner ear tissues.

Over 30 leading inner-ear scientists participate in teaching the BIE course. This offers students the unique opportunity to interact with, learn from, and form connections with some of the most highly regarded scientists in the field.