Inner ear dysfunction and the associated problems with hearing and balance affect about 30 million Americans and that number is expected to grow as the population ages. Yet, despite the enormous socioeconomic impact, the inner ear senses of hearing and balance are the most poorly understood of all the senses. One significant reason for the lag in our understanding is the technical difficulties unique to inner ear research that are a discouraging barrier to new investigators. To address this challenge we have designed an ambitious three-week course focused on the biology of hearing and balance that will be taught by a team of leading scientists and clinicians during the summers of 2015, 2017 and 2019 at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA. The Biology of the Inner Ear (BIE) course was first offered in 2007 and again in 2009, 2011 and 2013. Each of those first four editions were very well-received by students and faculty, and their feedback provided successive improvements, culminating in the present syllabus. Using the focused approach that typifies other highly successful MBL courses, BIE is designed to meet specific needs of new researchers in auditory and vestibular science. The course will continue to enroll a class comprised of graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, clinician scientists, and established investigators from other fields. These talented students will be provided with instruction and hands-on laboratory training in cutting-edge techniques and specialized methods that are unique to investigations of the inner ear. Through lectures, research seminars, roundtable discussions, and informal interactions as students and instructors work side-by-side in the laboratory, BIE will foster the development of the students as investigators and provide the opportunity to establish long-lasting mentoring relationships. These interactions will emphasize not only what is known, but also the opportunities for important discoveries, innovative new approaches, and the translation of those discoveries into meaningful improvements in human health. BIE is designed to enhance the pipeline of gifted, highly motivated scientists entering the field; provide instruction that will challenge them and help them undertake independent, rigorous, and original research while introducing novel ideas and approaches, and facilitating the establishment of innovative and productive collaborations. This training will advance the pace of scientific discoveries and promote their translation into treatments that improve the lives of those suffering hearing and balance disorders.

Public Health Relevance

This proposal presents a request for a three-week-long intensive lecture-laboratory based course on the application of experimental and analytical approaches to study auditory and vestibular biology. Students will learn the intricate experimental approaches required to studying auditory and vestibular biology as well as the clinical manifestations of diseases of the auditory and vestibular systems and the potential for conducting research that may improve the lives of patients. One of the aims of this course is to attract young investigators to research in this important area with a goal of developing therapies and cures.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Education Projects (R25)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Freeman, Nancy
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Marine Biological Laboratory
Woods Hole
United States
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Chow, Cynthia L; Trivedi, Parul; Pyle, Madeline P et al. (2016) Evaluation of Nestin Expression in the Developing and Adult Mouse Inner Ear. Stem Cells Dev 25:1419-32