Katherine Shim, PhD Joins AHRF Research Committee

Katherine Shim, PhD, assistant professor in the department of Otolaryngology & Communications Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, has joined the AHRS’s Research Committee. Dr. Shim will take part in helping to select which research projects the AHRF funds each year.

Dr. Shim is interested in how the three-dimensional structure of the inner ear is formed during embryonic development and how the sensory regions of the inner ear epithelium are patterned.

Dr. Shim takes a molecular and genetic approach to understanding inner ear development in the mouse, and current work is focused on understanding the role of the Sprouty family of receptor tyrosine kinase antagonists in inner ear development and function. In particular, Dr. Shim found that Sprouty2 mutant mice are born with severe hearing impairment associated with a postnatal cell fate transformation of a Deiters’ cell into a pillar cell, resulting in the formation of an ectopic space (tunnel of Corti) within the auditory sensory epithelium.

It is her hope that these studies will uncover mechanisms by which congenital hearing and balance disorders arise, and provide clues to their treatment.

The American Hearing Research Foundation Gives Wiley H. Harrison, MD Grant to Judith Lieu, MD

The AHRF has awarded the Wiley H. Harrison, MD grant to Judith Lieu, MD, assistant professor of pediatric otolaryngology at Washington University in St. Louis. The grant goes to support research in otology, and is a $25,000, one-year grant.

Dr. Lieu is interested in understanding how unilateral hearing loss (UHL) in school-aged children is associated with speech-language delays, increased rates of grade failures, and an increased need for educational assistance. Problems within localizing sound and in isolating speech from background noise are recognized as potential culprits, but these reasons alone do not explain the additional poor performance that some children with UHL have
in school. Interventions for children with UHL have included using FM systems and hearing aids to boost the sound.

Dr. Shim will use functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI), which can determine the inter-relatedness of different areas of the brain when performing tasks such as listening or processing speech, to examine children with UHL vs. children without UHL to see if differences in hearing-related regions of their brains may help explain why some children with UHL, but not all, encounter educational problems.

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