Dr Katie Smith
Sensory hair cells in the inner ear transform sound energy into electrical signals which are faithfully carried by the auditory nerve to the brain. These electrical signals represent the timing cues of sound and are essential for hearing. The precise transmission of electrical signals along the auditory nerve is achieved through complex interactions between individual auditory nerve fibres and their supporting cells, glia.
My research aims to understand how complex neuro-glial interactions are established during development of the auditory nerve and how they are maintained over the life course. I am also interested in whether changes in neuro-glial interactions are associated with ageing and may contribute to age-related hearing loss. To help understand the complex organisation of the auditory nerve, I am developing a new auditory neuro-glial model system in which critical neuro-glial interactions can be recapitulated in a dish.
Jointly funded by the RNID and the Dunhill Medical Trust