We are interested in how hair cells become specified and patterned during development of the inner ear. To this end, we study spatiotemporal expression of different genes in developing sensory epithelia, in order to gain insight into their unique functions.
Our lab studies morphological and molecular properties of hair cells from auditory and vestibular organs in the inner ear. We are interested in the features that comprise mature hair cells and how hair cells assemble these features during development, natural turnover, or regeneration after damage.
We are interested in how regeneration of new hair cells and supporting cells is regulated. Of particular interest are the identification and the characterization of cells that serve as progenitors to new hair cells during regeneration and the interplay between extracellular and intracellular signaling molecules that direct progenitor cells to exit the cell cycle and cell progeny to differentiate as hair cells.
Given that hair cells in vestibular organs are regenerated in adult rodents after damage, our research also addresses turnover of vestibular hair cells in mice under normal conditions.
We use a variety of tools and methodologies to test hypotheses about hair cell form, function, development, turnover, and regeneration. These include cell and organ culture, electroporation- and viral-mediated gene transfer, immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy, genomics, and gene expression analyses.