Dr. M. Charles Liberman is the Schuknecht Professor of Otology and Laryngology at the Harvard Medical School and the Director of the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear, one of the largest and best-known research groups devoted to the study of hearing and deafness. The laboratory comprises 27 investigators, with research foci spanning all aspects of the auditory system from sound transmission in the middle ear, through signal transduction in the inner ear and neural processing in the central nervous system. Dr. Liberman received his B.A. in Biology from Harvard College in 1972 and his Ph.D. in Physiology from Harvard Medical School in 1976. He has been on the faculty at Harvard since 1979, has published over 160 papers on a variety of topics in auditory neuroscience and is the recipient of the Award of Merit from the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, the Carhart Award from the American Auditory Society and Bekesy Silver Medal from the Acoustical Society of America. His research interests include 1) coding of acoustic stimuli as neural responses, 2) efferent feedback control of the auditory periphery, 3) mechanisms underlying noise-induced hearing loss, 4) the signaling pathways mediating nerve survival in the inner ear and 5) application of cell- and drug-based therapies to the repair of a damaged inner ear.
Dr. Gabriel Corfas is a professor and associate chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and the director of the Kresge Hearing Research Institute (KHRI) at the University of Michigan. The KHRI is one of the first and leading multidisciplinary centers for the study of hearing, deafness and balance disorders. Before joining the KRHI, Dr. Corfas was a professor of both neurology and otology & laryngology at Harvard Medical School and the director of basic research in otolaryngology at Boston Children’s Hospital. His research focuses on the molecular mechanisms involved in the development, function and maintenance of the nervous system and in using this knowledge to understand nervous system disorders and develop new therapies to treat them. He has published more than 80 papers on the different aspects of neuroscience. Dr. Corfas holds a M.Sc. in biological sciences from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a Ph.D. in neurobiology from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
Dr. Albert Edge is a professor of otology and laryngology at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the director of the Tillotson Cell Biology Unit at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE). He is a member of the faculty in the Program in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology at HMS and an associated faculty at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. He is also distinguished visiting professor at Keio University. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Albany Medical College and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biological Chemistry at HMS before being appointed assistant professor at HMS and investigator at the Joslin Diabetes Center. He took his current position at MEE in 2003. His lab works on cell and molecular characterization of endogenous stem cells and their role in repair of the inner ear. He has recently characterized cells in the cochlea that have the ability to regenerate hair cells through stimulation of developmental pathways. His lab has also shown that neural progenitor cells made from embryonic stem cells extend fibers to and form synapses with hair cells after loss of cochlear innervation.
Dr. Ulrich Müller is the Bloomberg Distinguished professor and director of developmental neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. Prior to JHU, he served as Kershaw Professor of Neuroscience; chair of the Department of Molecular & Cellular Neuroscience; director of the Dorris Neuroscience Center; and a member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at the Scripps Research Institute. His research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of auditory perception and analyzing the mechanisms that regulate the development and function of the mammalian neocortex. Prior to joining Scripps, Dr. Müller was a senior staff member and research group leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel, Switzerland. He is a member of the American Society for Physiology, American Society for the Advancement in Science, American Society for Neuroscience and the Association of Research in Otolaryngology. Dr. Müller received a diploma and Ph.D. in biology from Albertus Magnus University, Cologne (Germany), and conducted Ph.D. training at Princeton University. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the University of California San Francisco in the laboratory of Dr. L.F. Reichardt.
Dr. Peter Barr-Gillespie is the associate vice president of basic research and professor of otolaryngology at Oregon Health & Sciences University, as well as senior scientist at the Vollum Institute, a privately endowed research institute at Oregon Health & Science University. Since 2012, Dr. Barr-Gillespie has served as scientific director of the Hearing Health Foundation's Hearing Restoration Project (HRP), a consortium of scientists developing a strategy for regeneration of sensory hair cells of the inner ear. Dr. Barr-Gillespie’s research aims to address the molecular mechanism for mechanotransduction and how the hair cell assembles the hair bundle so that its multiple levels of organization are produced and maintained. To carry out this program examining mechanotransduction and bundle assembly, the Barr-Gillespie Lab takes a multidisciplinary approach, using proteomics, genetics, genomics, molecular biology, imaging and electrophysiology. Dr. Barr-Gillespie received his B.A. in chemistry from Reed College and his Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Washington; he carried out his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Alan Cheng is a surgeon-scientist at the department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Stanford University, where he specializes in caring for patients with hearing loss and deafness, in parallel to researching inner ear development and regeneration. His clinical practice based at the Stanford Ear Institute and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital focuses on otologic diseases including congenital hearing loss and cochlear implantation and chronic ear diseases in the pediatric population. For more than 10 years, he has been studying hair cell biology, and since 2007 his research has focused on defining the role of Wnt signaling in regulating hair cell progenitors in the developing and damaged inner ear, using a combination of genetic, molecular biological, pharmacological and optical techniques. Dr. Cheng received his B.S. in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, his M.D. with distinction in research in otobiology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed his residency training in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at University of Washington. Dr. Cheng completed his fellowship training in pediatric otolaryngology at Boston Children's Hospital at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Hans Clevers serves as director of research of the Princess Maxima Center for Pediatric Oncology and professor of molecular genetics at the Hubrecht Institute (Netherlands). Dr. Clevers was the first to identify stem cells in the intestine and is one of the world's leading researchers on normal stem cells and their potential for regenerative therapy. He has discovered and delineated some of the most fundamental molecular signaling processes that drive normal development of the gut and linked these to diseases such as cancer. Dr. Clevers identified the crucial downstream component of the Wnt signaling cascade, TCF and the mechanism by which Wnt signals activate specific TCF target genes. With these insights and in collaboration with Bert Vogelstein, he proposed that in APC-deficient colon cancer, it is the inappropriate activation of the Wnt pathway that transforms cells. His current research focuses on developing technologies for long-term culture of these stem cells as epithelial organoids. Dr. Clevers earned his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University Utrecht, Netherlands and completed his postdoctoral work at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of the Harvard University.
Dr. Bernd Fritzsch is a comparative molecular neuroembryologist at the University of Iowa, past Chair of the Department of Biology (2008-2016) and has been the co-director/director of the Aging Mind and Brain Initiative (AMBI) and Center of Aging (CoA) since 2011. Prior to his time at the University of Iowa, Dr. Fritzsch conducted research on ear development and evolution at Creighton University, where he was a professor and assistant dean for research. Dr. Fritzsch’s main area of research focuses on the molecular development and evolution of inner ear neurosensory cells (hair cells and neurons) with the aim to elucidate crucial developmental steps that would allow hearing restoration. Before focusing on the ear, Dr. Fritzsch’s early work concentrated on eye muscles innervation and development, showing that oculomotor and trochlear motoneurons require Wnt1 and Fgf8 of the midbrain/hindbrain boundary for normal development. His lab is currently focused on the molecular basis of ear development, the molecular basis of inner ear efferent and brainstem motoneuron formation, and molecular basis of hair cell proliferation, maintenance, and regeneration. Dr. Fritzsch received his Ph.D. in biology from TU Darmstadt in Germany and is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of AAAS.
Dr. David Ginty currently serves as the Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professor of Neurobiology in the department of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, and is also an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Ginty has served in various roles in the department of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University since 1995, most recently as professor overseeing the graduate degree program. He is currently associate director of the Program in Neuroscience at Harvard University. In his early work, Dr. Ginty studied the mechanism of action of nerve growth factor (NGF), demonstrating that when NGF binds to its receptor on a nerve cell it “turns on” the activity of a molecule called cAMP response element binding (CREB). To study how NGF regulates CREB, he developed the first antibody that specifically recognizes the phosphorylated form of CREB. In his lab, Dr. Ginty uses mouse molecular genetics, circuit mapping, electrophysiological approaches, and behavioral analyses to gain understanding of the development, organization and function of neural circuits that underlie the sense of touch. Dr. Ginty received his B.S. in biology at Mount Saint Mary’s College and Ph.D. in physiology from East Carolina University School of Medicine. His postdoctoral work was completed in molecular neuroscience with the Harvard Medical School and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Dr. Michael Greenberg is the department chair and Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. Prior to Harvard Medical School, he was the director of the F.M. Kirby Center for Neurobiology at Children’s. Dr. Greenberg’s research interests span a broad range of topics related to the development of the nervous system, and his work has particularly focused on how activity-dependent processes impact cognitive function. His findings have expanded the understanding of the molecular basis of the major events in neural development, the neural responses to injury and disease and the potential for treatment. In 1984, Dr. Greenberg discovered a landmark finding that neural activity affects gene transcription, a now central tenet of neurobiology. In 2001, Greenberg and his team uncovered how a particular calcium channel — the “L-type” voltage-gated Ca2+ channel — leads to the expression of genes important for learning and memory, as well as for the survival of the neuron itself. Early in 2015, Greenberg’s lab reported that the lack of the protein MeCP2 in patients with Rett syndrome — a hallmark of the disease — selectively disrupts the expression of exceptionally long genes in the brain. Dr. Greenberg received his B.A. in chemistry from Wesleyan University and his Ph.D. from the Rockefeller University and trained as a research fellow in molecular biology at the Rockefeller University and at the New York University Medical Center.
Dr. Stuart L. Schreiber is one of four co-founders of the Broad Institute, where he serves as the Director of the Center for the Science of Therapeutics. Dr. Schreiber is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Morris Loeb Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, and has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since his election in 1995. Dr. Schreiber is known for having developed systematic ways to explore biology, especially disease biology, using small molecules and for his role in the development of the field of chemical biology. Dr. Schreiber has provided some of the most significant small-molecule-based advances, including small-molecule probes of extremely difficult targets and processes that are at the root of human disease. Four new anti-cancer drugs that target proteins discovered in the Schreiber laboratory using his small-molecule approach have been approved by the U.S. FDA: torisel (Wyeth) and afinitor (Novartis; both for renal cancer), which target mTOR (discovered using rapamycin in 1994) and vorinostat (Merck; for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma; CTCL) and romidepsin (Celgene; for CTCL), which targets HDACs (HDAC1 discovered using trapoxin in 1996). Dr. Schreiber received his B.A. in chemistry from the University of Virginia and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Harvard University.