Research Overview

Clinical Research
We are actively investigating the ability of the human vestibular system to participate in multisensory integration. This is of critical importance to imbalanced patients with central nervous system pathologies such as the elderly and victims of head trauma. We are also interested in balance following cochlear implantation and developing novel pharmaceutical treatments for imbalance.  More about clinical research

Basic Research
We published the first description of the responses of mouse vestibular afferents to rotations.  This allows us a unique tool to study the effect of individual genes on the vestibular system and help develop and evaluate interventions to restore vestibular function.  The same work allowed us to resolve a century-old question by showing that the responses of the semicircular canals are related to their size. This has important developmental, behavioral, and evolutionary implications.

We reported initial data suggesting that the geometry of the semicircular canals is a quantitative genetic trait and we have begun searching for candidate loci. This is important to understanding the genetic causes of vestibular and hearing loss such as enlarged vestibular aqueduct and CHARGE syndrome. 
More about basic research

Marine Mammal Research
Cetaceans (porpoises, dolphins, and whales) have semicircular canals whose dimensions are much smaller than expected given the large size of the animals.  This has recently been explained as being related to increased head movements in these animals with aquatic locomotion.  We have shown that the head movements of dolphins are relatively similar to those of related land animals, casting this explanation into doubt.  We are actively working to understand the function of the cetacean vestibular system better.  We are also interested in anatomic modifications of the cetacean ear related to improved hearing underwater.    More about marine mammal research

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