2015 BIE Students

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Sophie Brauer

I am a graduate student in the Inner Ear Lab at the Department of Clinical Research, University of Bern, Switzerland.

In the lab we try to improve cochlear implant technology by characterization of spiral ganglion neuron cultures with multi-electrode arrays.

I very much appreciated the BIE class, because I could deepen my knowledge in my specific research domain and especially because I got to know many other approaches and techniques how to investigate the inner ear. Some of these techniques I will definitely try to implement in future projects. The learning environment was highly motivating and I am very grateful for all the advices of the faculty and teaching assistants. I am looking forward to meeting again the great people I got to know in this class.

I would strongly recommend this class to students implicated in inner ear research.

Mattia Carraro

I am a PhD student (biomedical engineering) in the lab of Dr. Robert Harrison at the Hospital for Sick Children, affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Our lab studies the structure and function of the normal auditory system, focusing both on “mature” system and on early development processes that from the auditory brain. We examine, as well, many different factors that can cause hearing loss and determine what damage results and what functional deficits occur to the inner ear and to the central auditory brain.

My current research project is looking at the involvement of the stria vascularis, spiral limbus and spiral ligament vasculature in hearing loss, either by presbyacusis or by cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. We approach those questions from a functional point of view (ABR, DPOAEs) as well as from a structural perspective, using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), laser scanning fluorescence microscopy (LSFM) and novel tissue clearing techniques.

This course provided me with a broader view of the model organisms that are available, their pros/cons and an extremely valuable hands-on experience with very experienced faculty. As well, the varieties of topics covered (both in lectures and practicums) have been very useful to have a broader view of the field and to increase my understanding of potential translational research (lab to clinic). Moreover, the course gave me a valuable background that I am direct applying to improve the rationale and discussion part of my thesis writing, giving me more confidence towards the approaching defense.

Last but not least, the networking atmosphere, both with faculty and with students, is of great value, as most of them will be future reviewers or even employers.

Chester Chia

I am a graduate student in Dr. Lisa Goodrich’s group. Our lab studies the cellular mechanisms of circuit assembly in both the retina and inner ear. My Ph.D. thesis is focused on determining the molecular mechanisms that promote spiral ganglion neuron (SGN) survival and maintenance across the lifespan of the organism. I am currently investigating the relationship between expression of anti-apoptotic proteins that preserve mitochondrial integrity and degeneration of SGNs following acoustic trauma and aging. Through this work, I hope to develop new methods to treat hearing loss.

The BIE course was an incredible experience. As a newcomer to the field of auditory neuroscience, this course gave me the invaluable opportunity to meet and interact with an incredible group of auditory researchers. The daily one-on-one laboratory demonstrations with faculty members and TAs provided an excellent way for me to learn new techniques and helped me to expand my own knowledge base. After just three short weeks, the BIE course has inspired me with new ideas and provided me with the technical ability to explore the questions that fascinate me.

Cynthia Chow

I am an AuD/PhD candidate in Samuel Gubbels’ laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Our laboratory focuses on research pertaining to cell-based therapies for the treatment of hearing loss. My current research focuses on the spatial and temporal expression of nestin, which may provide insight into the possible persistence of a population of stem cell-like cells in the adult mammalian inner ear. My other scientific interests include inner ear development, central auditory processing disorders, mechanotransduction, and tinnitus.

The Biology of the Inner Ear course gave me the unique opportunity to develop and improve upon my understanding of the many epistemological concepts hearing science has to offer. The morning lectures stimulated my interest in a number of different research areas such as neuronal differentiation and innervation, hair cell death, ototoxicity and bioinformatics. The laboratory portion of the course introduced me to a variety of animal models I was otherwise unfamiliar with. Guided instruction along with open laboratory time allowed me to learn a number of new skills and techniques which I can continue to develop in the future. As a whole, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to attend the Biology of the Inner Ear course; it was an invaluable learning experience from which I can continually reflect upon in my current and future research.

Daniel C. Ellwanger

Postdoc, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine

I was tremendously excited about the opportunity to participate in this year’s “Biology of the Inner Ear” course at the Marine Biological Laboratory. This workshop is well known for its excellent quality of traineeship and its paramount capability to rapidly immerse its attendees in a new set of concepts and techniques in the field of auditory and vestibular research. I recently started my postdoc position at the department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine. Here, I investigate mechanisms of inner ear development and regeneration by implementing novel methods to dissect and reconstruct the remarkably precise spatio-temporal cell organization of the inner ear from high-throughput genomic single-cell data. As a newcomer to this field this course provided me invaluable intensive theoretical and practical classes introducing not only basic inner ear biology and research techniques, but also giving broad insights into the current state of research and an idea of existing open questions. Further, as a computational biologist by training my professional background is rooted in a “dry bench world” where wet-lab work is rare or usually consists of molecular biological experiments. Thus, this kind of broad hands-on exposure and the immediate interaction with scientific leaders in the field took my training to the next level and will allow me to explore novel directions and new possible collaborations in the fascinating research domain of inner ear biology.

Christian Keine

I am currently a PhD student in the lab of Rudolf Rübsamen at the University of Leipzig, Germany. We study signal transmission at early stages of the auditory brainstem using whole-cell patch clamp recordings and in vivo single-unit recordings. I am particularly interested in the influence of inhibition on Sphercial Bushy Cells in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus. As they receive their main excitatory input directly from the auditory nerve, understanding of the inner ear is essential for the correct interpretation of the acquired data. I am very grateful having the opportunity to attend the BIE course in order to branch out into inner ear research, learning new techniques in this field and discuss with leading scientists and other participants. The whole course was extremely helpful, both scientifically as well as personally and a great learning experience. In summary, the course provided a unique experience and will certainly help me in my future career and I am looking forward applying that newly acquired knowledge in my own research projects and meeting all the people from the course again at future meetings.

Maarja Laos

I am a PhD student in Ulla Pirvola´s lab at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Our lab is working on wide range of topics encompassing inner ear development, repair and regeneration, employing mouse as a model system. In my PhD project I am focusing on mechanisms that restrict the regeneration of mammalian auditory and vestibular hair cells. BIE course has more than fulfilled my expectations. On top of learning all kinds of different methods ranging from dissection of inner ear organs from various species to electrophysiological recording techniques, I got the invaluable chance to interact with brilliant researchers in the inner ear field. It was amazing to meet the scientists who actually started the field and get one-to-one training from them. It is also so nice that from now on I can put a face to many authors of inner ear field publications. It was amazing to see how absolutely everybody, the Faculty, the TAs and the students, benefited from the course. I greatly appreciate that I was given the chance to take part of this course and I honestly think that every inner ear researcher should be given this chance, either as a student, TA or member of the Faculty!

Josue Lopez

I am a graduate student in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics program under Dr. Amy Lee mentorship at University of Iowa. Our lab studies voltage gated Ca2+ channels and how interactions with a variety of factors regulate the channels function in different tissues. Particularly I am interested in investigating the role of RI8M2 interaction with auditory (Cav1.3) and photoreceptor (Cav1.4) Cav channels. Other focuses include Cav channels trafficking and anchorage at active sites. I utilize multiple techniques, which includes; molecular techniques, biochemical assays, microscopy, mammalian cell models, mouse models and electrophysiology. Prior to BIE course I had no experience in the inner ear field, most of my work done in lab was on ribbon synapses at photoreceptors. I am really interested in the molecular components and regulation at ribbon synapse active zones. My background is in molecular biology and this course helped me identify multiple open questions in the field that I could potentially explore in my research. The course was great at providing me with enough background to start thinking of potential projects for the future. The positive environment created by everyone at the course, professors, TAs and students was really motivating to me.

Karina Lezirovitz Mandelbaum

Since my scientific initiation as an undergraduate student, my research has been focused on the discovery of novel genes (mainly deafness causing genes) through linkage analysis. I also chased this research line during my masters and PhD. Less than two years after completed my PhD, I was hired as a Research Associate in the Otolaryngology lab at School of Medicine Clinics Hospital from University of São Paulo. Thus, I was able to continue with my research interests but I also needed to expand my research perspectives, so I engaged in research lines such as inner ear regeneration through gene therapy, cochlear implant and strategies to improve its success. I started my postdoc in 2014 and as the candidate chromosomal region for deafness gene has already mapped, the challenge of identifying the causative gene moved to the functional area. Consequently, a deep knowledge of the biology of inner ear, the strategies and techniques to study it are imperative to be able to validate the candidate genes as deafness genes. The Biology of the Inner Ear (BIE) course was a remarkable opportunity to learn new techniques, new perspectives in the field and how to pursue different strategies to reach my research goals.

Doreen Moeckel

Postdoctoral Scholar

Gregory Frolenkov’s lab, University of Kentucky, Lexington KY

My research experience so far has been about the physiology of insect hearing organs. After completing my PhD, I recently joined the lab of Gregory Frolenkov. Our lab investigates the effects of intense mechanical stimulation on the mechanosensory machinery in stereocilia bundles of mammalian inner ear hair cells, for example the regeneration and molecular re-modeling of tip links, which had been destructed by overstimulation. Despite having several years of auditory research experience, I consider myself to be quite at the beginning if it comes to approaches which are specific for studies on vertebrates. The course was highly multi-disciplinary and gave me a broad overview and insight into the topic. At the same time, I got a great close-up on techniques, with many details about how to “make it work”, many priceless insider-tricks from faculty, assistants and students, and a lot of excitement from my side. I feel that the BIE course has greatly helped me to get a hold and to find my place within my new research field.

Mark Rudolf

I am an MD/PhD student in Jeff Corwin’s lab at the University of Virginia. Unlike other vertebrates, mammals have a limited capacity to regenerate hair cells once they are killed by aminoglycoside antibiotics or loud noise. One obvious difference in mammalian ears is the unusual thickening of apical F-actin belts at junctions between supporting cells of the sensory epithelium. My hypothesis is that the thickened apical F-actin belts are contributing to the loss in regenerative capacity in mature mammalian inner ears. Attending the BIE course at Woods Hole at this early stage in my career was a great boon to my research. Learning about the various model organisms helped me realize that we have still have much more to learn from other species. My favorite part of the course was being able to live, learn, and work alongside other students and established faculty members who each had a unique perspective on my project. I now really feel a part of the inner ear research community! I would highly recommend the BIE course to anyone studying the ear or vestibular/auditory processing.