Ph.D., University of Toronto
One of the major challenges in developmental biology is to convey dynamic cellular activities that are happening in vivo from static time points, as these snapshots only provide a glimpse of what is happening during the entire developmental process. The goal of my project is to follow a small group of cells in the auditory neurons that express a secreted molecule, Sonic Hedgehog (Shh), during mouse inner ear development. Our lab and others have demonstrated that this source of Shh regulates growth of the cochlear duct and the timing of cochlear hair cell differentiation. It may also pre-stage the tonotopic organization of the cochlea. Therefore, understanding the nature of these Shh-expressing cells will be important for deciphering cochlear formation. Some of the experiments I am conducting include lineage tracing and genetic profiling of this population of Shh expressing neuroblasts, as well as live imaging of these Shh-expressing cells in culture to visualize how Shh is being delivered to the cochlea.