Joe C. Adams, Ph.D.

Harvard Medical School

Associate Professor of Otolaryngology

Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Director, Laboratory of Otoimmunochemistry
Co-Director, National Temporal Bone, Hearing, and Balance Pathology Resource Registry
Senior Scientist

Research Summary

Research Area Affiliations

Research Summary

Dr. Adams’ research interests are concerned with non-sensory cells of the cochlea. This is not because sensory cells are thought to be uninteresting or even well understood, but rather because non-sensory cells are clearly essential for cochlear function, and because there is growing evidence that they are often affected earlier and more severely by cochlear stresses than are sensory cells. This suggests that many poorly understood cochlear pathologies might be caused by insults that begin by compromising non-sensory cells. It is therefore reasonable to expect that the study of stress responses in non-sensory cells will lead to a better appreciation of the causes of cochlear disorders, and this will provide insight into better prevention and treatment of these disorders.

A primary concern is with seeking ways to complement the work of the Otopathology Laboratory with basic and applied research findings. This includes efforts as disparate as optimizing tissue processing protocols and studying poorly understood cochlear cells whose malfunction may account for hearing loss or other pathologies. The applied research includes long standing efforts to develop and improve techniques for processing and analyzing both newly acquired and archived temporal bones of patients who had inner ear disorders during their lives. Analyses and interpretations of these pathological specimens are aided by insights provided by results of the basic research effort.

Select Publications

Changes in immunostaining of cochleas with experimentally induced endolymphatic hydrops. Ichimiya, I., J. C. Adams, Kimura, R.S. (1994).  Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 103(6): 457-468.
Gap junctions in the rat cochlea: immunohistochemical and ultrastructural analysis. Kikuchi, T., R. S. Kimura, Paulm D.L., Adams, J.C. (1995). Anat Embryol (Berl) 191(2): 101-118.
Clinical implications of inflammatory cytokines in the cochlea: a technical note. Adams, J. C. (2002). Otol Neurotol 23(3): 316-322.

Changes in cytochemistry of sensory and nonsensory cells in gentamicin-treated cochleas. Imamura, S. and J. C. Adams (2003). J Assoc Res Otolaryngol 4(2): 196-218.
Selective activation of nuclear factor kappa B in the cochlea by sensory and inflammatory stress. Adams, J. C., B. Seed, Lu, N., Landry, A., Xavier, R. J.  (2009). Neuroscience. 160(2): 530-539.

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1966: B.S. Psychology, University of Georgia
1968: M.S. Psychology, University of Georgia
1971: Ph.D. Physiological Psychology, University of Georgia

Postgraduate Training

1970–1972: Postdoctoral Trainee, Center for Neurobiological Sciences, University of Florida
1972–1974: Postdoctoral Fellow, Eaton-Peabody Laboratories, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
1974–1980: Senior Staff Fellow, Laboratory of Neuro-Otolaryngology, NIDCD, NIH


1992–2010: Anatomy and Function of the Auditory System, Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology Program