October 27 Oct 27
Friday Fri

Meeting Details:

2:00PM-2:30PM - Refreshments
2:30PM-3:30PM - Seminar
Tung Auditorium, Biomedical Innovations Bldg – Room 1021

Host: Dr. Stefan Heller

Towards Hearing Restoration: Investigating the Genetic Restrictions on Hair Cell Regeneration in the Mature Inner Ear

Melissa McGovern, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

One significant cause of hearing loss is the loss of sensory cells in the inner ear called hair cells. These cells detect sound from the environment and send signals to the brain. These hair cells are susceptible to numerous insults including loud noises (think rock concerts, military activities, industrial noise exposure), ototoxic medications (for example aminoglycoside antibiotics and platinum-based chemotherapeutics), and the natural aging process.

Melissa investigates the ability of the mature mouse ear to respond to genetic reprogramming of non-sensory cells. She has found that cells directly adjacent to the sensory hair cells (called supporting cells) are responsive to reprogramming following hair cell loss. These cells convert into hair cells and attract innervation; however, they do not yet transmit sound signals to the brain. In addition, Melissa has found that other cells within the hearing organ can robustly respond to genetic reprogramming and be converted into hair cells. While these cells are not in the correct location for hearing recovery, these are thought to be the cells that form a scar in the ear following severe cochlear damage. This makes them an important target for hearing restoration therapeutics.


Melissa McGovern, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Otolaryngology
Pittsburgh Hearing Research Center
University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Melissa McGovern is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh and is a member of the Pittsburgh Hearing Research Center. The McGovern lab investigates the potential for hearing restoration through genetic reprogramming in the inner ear.