Dr. Melanie Barzik earned a B.S. and an M.S. in biology from the University of Osnabrück, Germany, followed by a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Braunschweig. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by a research fellowship at the National Lung, Heart, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), where she focused on neuronal development research.
In 2014, Dr. Barzik transitioned to NIDCD, where she now serves as a Staff Scientist in the Laboratory of Hearing Biology and Therapeutics. Her current focus is developing therapies to safeguard the hearing of patients undergoing treatment with lifesaving but ototoxic medications. Since early 2023, she has also been on a part-time detail with the NIDCD Training Program.
Dr. Barzik has actively participated in nearly 20 institute and NIH-wide committees. She also plays an integral role on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) committees. Her leadership extends to chairing the NIDCD Postbaccalaureate Recruiting Initiative, for which she received the NIH Director's Award in 2022.
Ph.D., University of Braunschweig, Germany
I am interested in the biology of cells that are critical for normal hearing. Of particular interest are hair cells of the inner ear, which contain mechanosensitive hair bundles composed of actin-rich stereocilia. Dr. Cunningham’s laboratory has shown previously that non-cell-autonomous signals can protect sensory hair cells against significant stresses, including exposure to ototoxic drugs. We are using biochemical, molecular biological, and immunohistochemical approaches in combination with mass spectrometry analyses and RNA-seq to investigate the molecular mechanisms of non-autonomous protection of sensory hair cells. My goal in Dr. Cunningham's laboratory is to guide the rational design of therapies for preventing or reversing hearing loss in humans due to ototoxicity caused by therapeutic drugs.