The laboratory of Bo Zhao, PhD studies sensorineural hearing loss—the most common type of hearing loss. It is most often caused by defects in cochlear hair cells, the primary sensors for sound that convert mechanical sound stimuli into electrical signals that are transmitted to the nervous system.
Approximately 135 genetic loci have been linked to hearing loss, and about 60 affected genes have been identified. However, the physiological functions of these genes are not well studied. The Laboratory of Molecular Mechanisms of Auditory Perception and Deafness, part of the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery at Indiana University School of Medicine, is finding the ability to illustrate the functions of these genes—and discover new ones—that could provide fresh leads for developing novel treatments for some forms of hearing loss.
Zhao, assistant professor of otolaryngology—head and and neck surgery and a primary member of Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, has collected cochlear cell tissue to construct libraries for a yeast two-hybrid screening and examine interactions between proteins. In previous studies, Zhao has successfully used these libraries to illustrate the functions of two proteins linked to hearing loss. Continued work aims to reveal the functions of other deafness-related genes and uncover other genes linked to hearing loss.
NIH R01, Functions of Fam65b protein complex at the basal stereocilia in hearing and deafness, 07/01/2018 – 06/30/2024
NIH R01, Molecular Mechanisms of Aminoglycoside Ototoxicity, 02/01/2022 – 01/31/2027