School of Medicine
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Daibhid O Maoileidigh
Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
Current Research and Scholarly Interests The Ó Maoiléidigh group employs mathematical and computational approaches to better understand normal hearing and hearing impairment. Because complete restoration of auditory function by artificial devices or regenerative treatments will only be possible when experiments and computational modeling align, we work closely with experimental laboratories. Our goal is to understand contemporary experimental observations, to make experimentally testable predictions, and to motivate new experiments. We are pursuing several projects.
Auditory and balance organs rely on hair cells to convert mechanical vibrations into electrical signals for transmission to the brain. In response to the quietest sounds we can hear, the hair cell's mechanical sensor, the hair bundle, moves by less than one-billionth of a meter. To determine how this astounding sensitivity is possible, we construct computational models of hair-bundle mechanics. By comparing models with experimental observations, we are learning how a hair bundle's geometry, material properties, and ability to move spontaneously determine its function.
The cochlea contains the auditory organ that houses the sensory hair cells in mammals. Vibrations in the cochlea arising from sound are amplified more than a thousandfold by the ear's active process. New experimental techniques have additionally revealed that the cochlea vibrates in a complex manner in response to sound. We use computational models to interpret these observations and to make hypotheses about how the cochlea works.
Lucy Erin O'Brien
Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology
Current Research and Scholarly Interests Many adult organs tune their functional capacity to variable levels of physiologic demand. Adaptive organ resizing breaks the allometry of the body plan that was established during development, suggesting that it occurs through different mechanisms. Emerging evidence points to stem cells as key players in these mechanisms. We use the Drosophila midgut, a stem-cell based organ analogous to the vertebrate small intestine, as a simple model to uncover the rules that govern adaptive remodeling.
Arline and Pete Harman Professor for the Chair in the Department of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine, Emeritus
Current Research and Scholarly Interests Clinical:
Pulmonary edema, acute respiratory distress syndromes (ARDS), hyaline membrane disease (HMD), bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD)
Lung epithelial sodium transport
Genetic influences on the development of BPD
Assistant Professor of Biology
Current Research and Scholarly Interests The O'Connell lab studies how genetic and environmental factors contribute to biological diversity and adaptation. We are particularly interested in understanding (1) how behavior evolves through changes in brain function and (2) how animal physiology evolves through repurposing existing cellular components.