Current Research and Scholarly Interests
Hearing is one of the most sensitive functions controlled by thyroid hormone (TH). TH is required for the timely coordination of a complex set of differentiation events in the maturing cochlea. Hypothyroidism retards the differentiation of the cochlea, including synaptogenesis, neurogenesis and myelinogenesis. The mechanisms that prompt the progression of these developmental events are poorly understood. Our preliminary data shows that many genes are differentially regulated by thyroid hormone in the cochlea.
Identifying which of these genes play important roles in cochlear hair cell innervation and synapse formation will further basic understanding about how the auditory system develops. In addition, knowledge of these genes could help devise strategies for stimulating the innervation of newly generated hair cells. To establish or restore hearing, it is vital that newly formed hair cells be connected functionally to the brain. We expect that our research will contribute to this important clinical/translational research effort by identifying genes involved in stimulating innervation and synapse formation.