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Lab members

Ruth Anne Eatock, Ph.D. 

Ruth Anne Eatock, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Depts. of Otology & Laryngology and Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School;Eaton-Peabody Laboratories, MEEI

Ruth Anne trained in sensory neurobiology at McGill (M.Sc.), Caltech (Ph.D.) and MIT (postdoctoral fellowship), and has held faculty positions at the University of Rochester and Baylor College of Medicine before coming to Boston.  She has studied the biophysical mechanisms underlying sensory analysis in several model inner ear organs, including lizard auditory organs and a vibration sensor (the saccule) in the frog.  Currently her lab is focused on the linear accelerometers (utricles and saccules) of rodents and turtles.  These organs are relatively simple structures with sharply delineated zones that transduce head-motion stimuli in different ways.  They also feature strikingly different types of synapse between hair cells and primary afferent neurons.  Recording electrical signals from different zones and synapses reveals how transducer adaptation, synaptic mechanisms and ion channel expression shape the sensory signal.

Gang Li, M.D., Ph.D.

Postdoctoral fellow, Dept. of Otology & Laryngology, Harvard Medical School; Eaton-Peabody Laboratories, MEEI

Gang obtained his M.D. in China and earned his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. During his Ph.D. studies in Dr. Manning J Correia’s lab, Gang’s project was centered on the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor expression on pigeon vestibular hair cells and its modulation of ionic channels, especially one of the inward rectifier potassium channels, pKir2.1. He then worked with Dr. Katie J Rennie at UC Denver on the pre- and post-synaptic expression of ionic currents in vestibular type I hair cells and calyces (see papers below). Now Gang is studying the potential influence of Ca2+ binding proteins on vestibular ganglion neuron firing patterns, with methods that include immunocytochemical staining, RT-PCR and patch clamp.

Li GQ, Kevetter GA, Leonard RB, Prusak DJ, Wood TG, Correia MJ. (2007) Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtype expression in avian vestibular hair cells, nerve terminals and ganglion cells. Neuroscience. Apr 25;146(1):384-402. (Figure 4 was selected for the journal cover.)

Li GQ, Meredith FL, Rennie KJ. (2010) Development of K+ and Na+ conductances in rodent postnatal semicircular canal type I hair cells. Am. J. Physiol. Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol. 2010 Feb; vol. 298 no. 2 R351-R358.

Li GQ, Correia MJ. (2011) The responses of isolated pigeon vestibular hair cells to acetylcholine receptor agonists and antagonist application. Brain Res 1373:25-38.

Xiao-Ping Liu, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral fellow, Speech and Hearing Biotechnology Program, HST, MIT; Eaton-Peabody Laboratories, MEEI

Ping recently obtained her Ph.D. in the Harvard-MIT Health Science Technology Program, on the components of voltage-gated sodium current in vestibular afferent neurons and their contributions to firing patterns.  Ping is spending the summer (2012) in the laboratory of Sascha du Lac (Salk) and will join the lab of Gwen Geleoc (Harvard) in the fall of 2012.

Maison SFLiu XPVetter DEEatock RANathanson NMWess JLiberman MC (2010).Muscarinic signaling in the cochlea: presynaptic and postsynaptic effects on efferent feedback and afferent excitability. J Neurosci. 30(19):6751-62.

Maison SF, Liu XP, Eatock RA, Sibley DR, Grandy DK, Liberman MC. (2012) Dopaminergic signaling in the cochlea: Receptor expression patterns and deletion phenotypes.  J Neurosci 32(1):344-55.

Will McLean, B.S.

Graduate Student, Speech and Hearing Biotechnology Program, HST, MIT; Eaton-Peabody Laboratories, MEEI

Will earned his B.S. in Biology at Tufts University and is now a Ph.D.-track graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology. Will's prior research focused on ion channel and ion pump localization and characterization within the inner ear; this work was conducted in the laboratory of Dr. Sonja Pyott at University of North Carolina-Wilmington (see papers below).  Now Will is interested in how stem cells can be guided to become functional cochlear and/or vestibular hair cells.  The stem cell component of this work is performed in the lab of Albert Edge at Harvard Medical School/Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary, while the functional electrophysiological tests are performed in the Eatock lab.

McLean WJ, Smith KA, Glowatzki E, Pyott SJ. (2009) Distribution of the Na,K-ATPase alpha subunit in the rat spiral ganglion and organ of corti. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol 10:37-49.

Wersinger E, McLean WJ, Fuchs PA, Pyott SJ. (2010) BK channels mediate cholinergic inhibition of high frequency cochlear hair cells. PLoS One 5:e13836.

Nicole Neubarth, B.A.

Nicole is a doctoral student in Neuroscience at Harvard University. She graduated from the University of Chicago where she majored in Biology with a specialization in Neuroscience and minored in Computational Neuroscience.  During her time as an undergraduate in the laboratory of Dr. Melina Hale, she focused on proprioceptive sensory systems in the pectoral fins of fish.  Now she is interested in hair cell physiology and the effects of efferent input on sensory transduction and processing in the vestibular system. 

Jocelyn Songer, Ph.D.

Instructor, Dept. of Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School; Eaton-Peabody Laboratories, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI)

Jocelyn was trained in biomedical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (M.S) with a focus on biosensors and bioinstrumentation and was introduced to sensory physiology through an NSF internship at U. Mass. Medical School.  Her doctoral work combined these interests and used both animal and mathematical models to demonstrate how a vestibular pathology (SCD) could lead to a hearing loss.

As a neurobiology research fellow at the Eaton-Peabody Labs and Harvard Medical School, Jocelyn is focusing on the cellular mechanisms of frequency tuning in the mammalian saccule, an inner ear organ sensitive to linear accelerations and loud sounds.  She studies each stage, from transduction to spiking, and how it influences frequency tuning by mechanically stimulating hair bundles and using electrophysiological techniques to investigate how hair cells and their afferent nerve terminals interact. 

Through continued research on the mechanisms and mechanics of sensory processing in the auditory and vestibular periphery, Jocelyn hopes to improve our basic science understanding of the inner ear and, ultimately, diagnostics and treatments of inner ear disorders.

Selected publications:

Rosowski JJ, Songer JE, Nakajima HH, Brinsko KM, Merchant SN. Clinical, experimental, and theoretical investigations of the effect of superior semicircular canal dehiscence on hearing mechanisms. Otol Neurotol. 2004 May;25(3):323-32.

Songer JE, Rosowski JJ. The effect of superior canal dehiscence on cochlear potential in response to air-conducted stimuli in chinchilla. Hear Res. 2005

Songer JE, Rosowski JJ. The effect of superior-canal opening on middle-ear input admittance and air-conducted stapes velocity in chinchilla. J Acoust Soc Am. 2006 Jul;120(1):258-69.

Rosowski JJ, Ravicz ME, Songer JE. Structures that contribute to middle-ear admittance in chinchilla. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2006 Dec;192(12):1287-311.

Songer JE, Rosowski JJ. A mechano-acoustic model of the effect of superior canal dehiscence on hearing in chinchilla. J Acoust Soc Am. 2007 Aug;122(2):943-51.

Songer JE, Rosowski JJ. Transmission matrix analysis of the chinchilla middle ear. J Acoust Soc Am. 2007 Aug;122(2):932-42.

Songer JE, Rosowski JJ. A superior semicircular canal dehiscence-induced air-bone gap in chinchilla. Hear Res. 2010 Oct 1;269(1-2):70-80. 

Eatock RA, Songer JE. Vestibular hair cells and afferents: two channels for head motion signals. Annu Rev Neurosci. 2011;34:501-34.

Songer JE, Eatock RA (2011) High-pass filtering at vestibular frequencies by transducer adaptation in mammalian saccular hair cells.  Mechanics of Hearing, In press.


Anne Aubert, Ph.D., Maître de Conférences, Biology, University of La Rochelle, France

Hong Bao, M.D., Research Associate, Zoology, University of Oklahoma, Norman

James Way-Young Chen, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor, Neurology, UCLA

Jeffrey R. Holt, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Otolaryngology and Neuroscience, Children's Hospital, Boston

Radha Kalluri, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, House Ear Institute, Los Angeles CA

Karen M. Hurley, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Drexel University College of Medicine

Michaela Meyer, Ph.D., HHMI postdoctoral fellow, Corey Lab, Harvard Neurobiology

Alfons Rüsch, Ph.D [Assistant Professor, Sensory Biophysics, University of Tübingen, Deceased, 2002]

Melissa A. Vollrath, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Neurology, McGill University

Weng-Hoe (Erich) Wang, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor Otolaryngology, Akita University, Japan

Julian Wooltorton, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania

Jingbing Xue, M.D.,Ph.D.,  Instructor, Radiology, Strong Memorial Hospital, University of Rochester


Zheng-Yi Chen (Harvard, MEEI)

Sascha du Lac (Salk)

Albert Edge (Harvard, MEEI)

M. Charles Liberman and Stephane Maison (Harvard, MEEI)

Qiufu Ma and Fu-Chia Yang (Harvard, Dana-Farber)

Anna Lysakowski (University of Illinois, Chicago)

Ellengene Peterson (Ohio)