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Melanie Barzik, Ph.D.
Ph.D., Carolo-Wilhelmina Technical University of
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.