Ó Maoiléidigh Laboratory of Computational and Mathematical Biology

Our Goal

Hearing and balance disorders arise predominantly from inner-ear dysfunction. The goal of the Ó Maoiléidigh group is to understand the mechanisms by which information is processed by the inner ear for transmission to the brain.

Our Approach

We employ mathematical and computational approaches to investigate auditory and vestibular systems. To be of use, a mathematical model must make experimentally testable predictions and it should be clear which features of the model are critical for correspondence with experiment.

In general, the requirements of prediction and correspondence pose a significant challenge for modeling in view of the complexity of biological systems and the evolution of many solutions to each environmental problem. We tackle these issues using comparative modeling. By comparing the structure of and predictions arising from different models, we learn which features of a system are responsible for particular experimental observations. Using this approach we improve our understanding of contemporary experimental observations, make experimentally testable predictions, and motivate new experiments (see figure for an example). Progress in the treatment of dysfunction can be accelerated by understanding the mechanisms underlying normal and impaired function.

A mathematical model predicted the behavior of a hair bundle as a function of its environmental conditions. These predictions were subsequently verified in experiments.


Hair-Bundle Mechanics

Cochlear Mechanics

Synaptic Dynamics

About the PI

Dáibhid Ó Maoiléidigh

Dr. Ó Maoiléidigh received his BA in Theoretical Physics and MSc in High-Performance Computing from Trinity College Dublin through a full scholarship from the Irish Government. He then received his PhD in Physics from Rutgers University, where he studied pausing in transcription elongation using mathematical and computational approaches. Dr. Ó Maoiléidigh first began to work in the field of hearing research as a Guest Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems. He described how the cochlear amplifier arises from a combination of two forms of active motility in the mammalian cochlea. As a Postdoctoral Associate and Research Associate in The Rockefeller University, he developed models of cochlear mechanics, hair-bundle motility, and synaptic dynamics. A model of hair-bundle motility explained mechanistically how it is possible for hair bundles to have a different function in hearing organs in comparison to balance organs. Under Dr. Ó Maoiléidigh's guidance, several predictions of this model were verified using a novel experimental system.

Dr. Ó Maoiléidigh founded the annual Sense to Synapse conference in 2012. This meeting brings researchers together who use experimental or computational methods to study any aspect of sensory perception.

Dáibhid Ó Maoiléidigh joined the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Stanford University in May of 2017. His group uses mathematical and computational approaches to study hearing and balance disorders.

Join Us

The Ó Maoiléidigh group employs computational and mathematical techniques to study hearing and balance. We are looking for talented people with a background in engineering, physics, neuroscience, computer science, mathematics or related fields who have an interest in biological modeling.

If you are an undergraduate or graduate student interested in a research fellowship, we would love to hear from you.

Current Openings


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