A deeper understanding of hearing loss and vestibular deficits is invaluable for treating deafness and imbalance.
Our lab's efforts have led to, and are leading towards, important insights into human deafness.
- The goals of the Nicolson lab are to understand the molecular basis of the senses of hearing and balance.
- The majority of genes that we have identified in behavioral screens for auditory/vestibular deficits are implicated in human hearing loss.
- We use zebrafish to explore the basic biology of the auditory/vestibular system in vertebrates and to provide animal models of human hearing loss.
Our methods include:
- - forward and reverse genetics
- - imaging of whole animals, and
- - cellular and behavioral analyses
Mechanotransduction in hair cells
We are interested in how hair cells transduce mechanical stimuli into electrical signals. To date, we have identified more than nine genes that are specifically required for mechanotransduction, including components of the transduction machinery. Our goal is to understand the precise role of these components in this fascinating process.
Synaptic transmission in hair cells
Hair cells communicate to neurons using ribbon synapses. How this communication is achieved at the molecular level and how these synapses develop are some fundamental questions that we are addressing using a wide range of methods.
Beyond the first synapse
We have begun to characterize a rarer class of mutants that have defects that are downstream of hair cells and appear to affect more central processing of auditory and vestibular stimuli.
After receiving her B.S. in Biochemistry at Western Washington University, Teresa Nicolson received her Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry in 1995 from the University of California, Los Angeles. She then trained as a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tuebingen, Germany. In 1999, Teresa became an independent Group Leader at the same institute. In 2003, she was appointed as an assistant professor to the Oregon Hearing Research Center (OHRC) at OHSU with a joint appointment in the Vollum Institute. She was promoted to associate professor in 2005 and professor in 2014. Teresa was an HHMI Investigator from 2005 to 2013. In 2019 she then joined the Research Division of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery as a professor at Stanford University.
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