Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Current Research & Grants

Research Project Name, Funding Source, and Status

Principal Investigator

Research or Grant Description

Research Project Name: Dynamic Interaction Among Proteins in Hair Cells

Funding Source: NIH/NIDCD [R01DC011813]

Status: Ongoing Study

Jing Zheng, PhD

We aim to investigate two important deafness genes: CEACAM16 and marshalin, to explore their functions in the hearing process.

Research Project Name: Studies in Cochlear Hair Cell Transduction

Funding Source: NIH/NIDCD [R01DC000089-41A1]

Status: Ongoing Study

MaryAnn Cheatham, PhD

The principal aim of the work is to establish the mode of amplification by outer hair cells and their unique function in the hearing process.

Research Project Name: Genetic Analysis of Formin Proteins in Progressive Hearing Loss

Funding Source: Knowles Center Collaborative

Status: Ongoing Study

David Kohrman;
Jing Zheng, PhD

We will investigate the cell and molecular bases of cochlear dysfunction due to mutations in formin-related genes.

Research Project Name: Investigating the Mechanism Underlying the OHC Death

Funding Source: Hugh Knowles Leadership Fund Award

Status: Ongoing Study

Jing Zheng, PhD

We will study the connections between reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by mitochondria and NADPH oxidase 3 (NOX3) in prestin mouse models.

Research Project Name:

Drugs to Stimulate Neurite Regeneration from Damaged Neurons

Funding Source: Office of Naval Research (ONR) Grant #N0014-12-1-0173

Status: Ongoing Study

Donna Whitlon, PhD

This project will conduct an intensive in vitro screen of drugs and chemicals candidates for promoting survival of cochlear spiral ganglion neurons and/or regeneration of their neurites and will then retest promising candidates in the cochlea in vivo.

Research Project Name: Infrared Photo-Activation of Inner-Ear Hair Cells NIH

Funding Source: NIH/NIDCD [1R01DC011481]

Status: Ongoing Study

Claus-Peter Richter, MD/PhD

Modest doses of long wavelength pulsed infrared radiation (IR) causes inner-ear hair cells to rapidly change their rate of neurotransmitter release, which dramatically alters the discharge rate of afferent neurons. Many afferents phase lock to the stimulus and fire an action potential for each IR pulse. This allows IR stimuli to be used to control the timing and rate of action potentials transmitted by the 8th nerve to the brain. The cellular response is robust, even under chronic stimulation, and involves IR triggered transient increases in intracellular [Ca2+]i. The specific mechanism underlying [Ca2+]i modulation is unknown. We propose to determine the source of IR evoked cytosolic [Ca2+]i transients and the mechanism responsible.

Research Project Name: Development of a Novel Laser Instrument for Surgical Applications in Oncology

Funding Source: NIH-R21 [1R21RR032388]

Status: Ongoing Study

Claus-Peter Richter, MD/PhD

Currently, the application of medical lasers is starkly limited by the lack of flexibility and versatility of most commercial laser systems. These systems typically emit light at a single, fixed wavelength which renders each laser suitable for a very narrow range of applications. The main objective of this project is to develop a completely new type of laser system, which will pave the way for significant advances in a variety of clinical applications that encompass minimally invasive procedures, surgeries and endoscopies.

Research Project Name: Optical Neural Techniques for Combat/Post-Trauma Healthcare

Funding Source: Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) Grant

Status: Ongoing Study

Claus-Peter Richter, MD/PhD

Infrared neural stimulation is a novel method to stimulate neurons. With the goal to use the benefits of the novel technology for prosthetic devices the project aims to (1) accelerate clinical translation of infrared nerve stimulation technology, (2) develop and test miniaturized INS sources and packages toward making implantable INS devices practical as a stimulator in cochlear implant technology, and (3) develop the hardware and conduct experiments to characterize INS stimulated sensory signals using optical sources.

Research Project Name: Understanding the Benefits of Infrared Nerve Stimulators for Neural Interfaces

Funding Source: NIH R01

Status: Ongoing Study

Claus-Peter Richter, MD/PhD

Today we know that infrared neural stimulation (INS) is possible, that stimulation rates can be achieved that allow encoding of acoustic information, that the spatial selectivity in the cochlea is about five more selective than electrical stimulation, and that single channel stimulation in chronic experiments shows no functional damage of the cochlea over at least six weeks. The aims of this project include validating that the selectivity of INS will result in a larger number of independent channels, demonstrating that a three-channel device can safely stimulate an implanted cochlea over several weeks, and showing that each channel of multichannel INS can independently encode information to be perceived by the auditory system.

Research Project Name: Non-Auditory Cortical Centers Help Speech Processing

Funding Source: E.R. Capita Foundation Grant

Status: Ongoing Study

Claus-Peter Richter, MD/PhD

The objective of this project is to gain insight into cortical interactions between the auditory system and other sensory systems in human test subjects and to use the knowledge to design treatment strategies to improve speech recognition in hearing impaired, including cochlear implant users.

Research Project Name: Regeneration of Spiral Ganglion Neurons with Human Embryonic Stem Cells

Funding Source: American Otological Society

Status: Ongoing Study

Akihiro Matsuoka, MD/PhD

The purpose of this study is to regenerate human spiral ganglion neurons with human embryonic stem cells in vitro and also in vivo.