Tympanic membranes

Restore Hearing to Millions

Chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM) is a chronically discharging hole in the ear drum and produces hearing loss in more than 50% of cases and is associated with poor language and development.

According to the World Health Organization, up to 330 million individuals suffer from CSOM associated hearing loss worldwide. It accounts for 28 000 deaths yearly, a disease burden of over 2 million disability adjusted life years and it is the most common cause of persistent hearing impairment among children in developing countries. The problem occurs in up to 40% of indigenous populations including North American indigenous populations. Even in the developed world the prevalence can be just over 1%.

The current standard of care is surgery where a graft is applied to restore integrity, improve hearing and reduce further infection. Poor socioeconomic populations and third world countries lack access to surgery. If we can solve this problem we can restore hearing to hundreds of millions around the world. 

1.Monasta L, Ronfani L, Marchetti F, Montico M, Vecchi Brumatti L, Bavcar A, et al. Burden of disease caused by otitis media: systematic review and global estimates. PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e36226. Epub 2012 Apr 30.

“A Regenerative Method of Tympanic Membrane Repair Could Be the Greatest Advance in Otology Since the Cochlear Implant.”

— Dr. Robert K. Jackler, April 2012
(2012 Editor of Otology & Neurotology)


Tympanic membrane wound healing

Chronic suppurative otitis media

Oral wound healing

Ways to Get Involved

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The Santa Maria Lab is a multidisciplinary lab focused on building collaborations, teaching and education. We are always looking for the brightest minds focused on making a difference in medicine.

If you are a potential undergrad or postgrad student or looking to work or do  a research fellowship with us, we would love to hear from you. 

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About the PI

Peter Santa Maria, MD, PhD

Dr. Peter Santa Maria is a MD PhD with a subspecialty interest in Otology, Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery. He attended medical school at The University of Western Australia before undertaking his residency in Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery in Western Australia. After working as the Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery fellow in Western Australia he joined Stanford initially in 2012 as an Instructor and now as an Assistant Professor. 

Dr Santa Maria completed his PhD in the molecular biology of wound healing of the tympanic membrane at The University of Western Australia, where he defined the post transcriptome response to wound healing. His lab’s research has led to the ability to manipulate healing of the tympanic membrane including a regenerative treatment that was accelerated through the Stanford SPARK program, winning the "Excellence in Stanford SPARK 2014" award. This discovery was translated into a pharmaceutical start-up, Auration Biotech and then later into big pharma, Astellas Pharmaceuticals. 

The Santa Maria lab’s research in the middle ear has now expanded to include development of an animal model for chronic suppurative otitis media to evaluate new treatments for biofilms in chronic suppurative otitis media. The lab’s understanding of wound healing and growth factors has also led to understanding of post tonsillectomy wound healing and also new growth factor therapies for oral wound healing.  
Dr Santa Maria believes that discovery science is at the centre of medical advancement and that there is an equal responsibility to bring these discoveries to patients through translational medicine. Dr Santa Maria also co-invented a medical device which won the "Robert Howard Next Step Award in Medical Technology Innovation 2014", as part of Stanford's Biodesign program, that could keep patients warm during surgery. His team built and tested the first prototype before he led, as the Principal Investigator, the first in human clinical study where the device showed a three-fold benefit over the existing standard of care for preventing perioperative hypothermia. The device is now being further developed in another start-up, Flotherm, where he is working to bring the device to patients.

Peter Santa Maria, MD, PhD


We are always looking for the brightest minds focused on making a difference in medicine. If you are a potential undergrad or postgrad student or looking to work or do  a research fellowship with us, we would love to hear from you.