Research — Otolaryngology


The type of research will depend upon the current phase of the research program in each laboratory. Students should contact the director of each laboratory to negotiate.

Pablo M Blazquez, PhD
4566 Scott Avenue, East McDonnell Science Building
Role of the vestibulo-cerebellum and its target nuclei in eye movement control and spatial orientation.  We used a range of methodologies: single and multiunit recordings, electrical brain stimulation, computational methods, pharmacology and behavioral studies. Our main lines of research are: 1-Signal transformations carried out by the the vestibulo-cerebellum during visual and vestibular stimulation. 2-Physiology of the vestibular nuclei 3-Role of the cerebellum-brainstem loop in motor learning in the vestibulo-ocular reflex.

Students will be instructed in one or several techniques and are expected to contribute significantly to the development of specific lab projects.

Joel A. Goebel, MD, FACS
8th Floor McMillan
Clinical research testing of posture and ocular motor control. Projects include measurement of gaze stabilization during head movement, otolith input into dynamic subjective visual vertical measurements, computerized historical data screening for dizziness, and head-mounted vibrotactile balance prosthesis (BalCap). We welcome students to join these projects at any stage.

Judith E. C. Lieu, MD, MSPH
3S35 Children’s Hospital and 8th Floor McMillan
Clinical Outcomes Research in Pediatric Otolaryngology. The Clinical Outcomes Research office performs clinical epidemiology and health services research. (Please reference the research elective offered by Dr. Jay Piccirillo in otolaryngology for more details.) These techniques and methodologies are used to investigate clinical problems seen in pediatric otolaryngology. Projects currently underway include the evaluation of quality of life of children with hearing loss, progression of hearing loss in children, and evaluation of unilateral hearing loss, use of functional connectivity MRI to investigate effects of hearing loss in children, and quality of life of parents whose young children with recurrent otitus media. Other projects of the student’s choosing that would utilize these research techniques may also be pursued.

Kevin K. Ohlemiller, PhD
2205 Central Institute for the Deaf Bldg
Gene/environment interactions in cochlear injury.  We study the interaction of genes and environment that increase cochlear injury due to noise and ototoxic exposure, with an emphasis on how these may yield apparent presbycusis.  Because cochlear function and injury is the same in mice and humans, and governed by the same genes, we use mostly mouse models.  Methods employed include standard ABR assessment and intra-cochlear recording, quantitative light microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and western blots.  We also collaborate to map, and perform expression profiling of genes that underlie traits we have discovered.  We and our collaborators have identified specific genes and inbred strains of mice that mimic the three major forms of human presbycusis (sensory, neural, and strial).  Sensory presbycusis appears promoted by alleles and mutations that impair protective factors such as antioxidant enzymes, or that impair ion homeostasis.  Neural presbycusis can be modeled by mutations that alter the function of cholinergic receptors.  While we are not sure what types of genes and mutations can lead to strial presbycusis, we have discovered four mouse strains that show the key feature of this disease (age-related endocochlear potential reduction), and also show distinct types of strial pathology.

We have shown that some of the same gene alleles and mutations that promote presbycusis also promote cochlear noise injury.  Such findings point to an interpretation of sensory presbycusis as principally cumulative injury.  We have also published evidence for one or more QTLs that impact the qualitative character of noise injury.  Important implications of our findings are (1) that there exists no single ‘mammalian’ archetype of cochlear noise injury, and (2) that injury to the organ of Corti and lateral wall are mechanistically and genetically independent.

Our research is eminently adaptable in difficulty and scale to students’ schedules and other requirements.  Students may expect to learn the full range of methods we employ, including physiology, immunohistochemistry, histopathology, and cellular/molecular techniques.

Jay F. Piccirillo, MD
8th Floor McMillan
The Clinical Outcomes Research Office of the Division of Research performs basic and applied clinical epidemiology and health services research. Clinical epidemiology is the study of the diagnosis, prognosis, and evaluation of treatment. Health service research is the study of the delivery of health care. The scientific methodology of clinical epidemiology is based on the architecture of clinical research, biostatistics, and data processing. Current projects include studying the impact of comorbidities on treatment and outcome for patients with cancer and the impact of a web-based cancer patient-specific prognostic information (Prognostigram) on treatment choices, outcomes, and satisfaction with care. We also conduct research into treatment and outcomes for patients with tinnitus. Using clinical epidemiology methodology, we can also study a variety of other diseases.