UCL Ear Institute


Studying for a PhD at the UCL Ear Institute

Studying for a PhD at the UCL Ear Institute

Further information

What we offer: Centre of research excellence

The Ear Institute contains arguably the greatest breadth of auditory scientists housed in a single institution in the world. This multi-disciplinary environment provides a unique chance to undertake research and receive world class training in state-of-the-art techniques. Interacting with different specialities is encouraged, providing greater opportunities for career development.

The UCL Ear Institute opened in 2005, as a result of a major Wellcome Trust grant to fund the building and equipping of the Centre for Auditory Research (CAR) which is situated on Gray's Inn Road next door to the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital (RNTNEH). A critical feature of the Institute’s design is its emphasis on interaction between the different research groups that occupy the CAR building and clinicians from the adjoining RNTNEH. This interactive approach allows for a modern, multi-disciplinary research programme. Our research covers virtually all aspects of modern auditory research; projects extend from basic investigations in biophysics, cell biology and genetics, through to electrophysiology and computational neuroscience and cochlear implantation surgery and outcomes.

Most of our laboratories are housed in the CAR building, although some laboratory facilities are based in the RNTNEH. Reflecting the historical links with the RNTNEH, recent appointments to the Ear Institute include new Professorial Chairs in Audiovestibular Medicine, Neuro-ontology and Laryngology, complementing an existing Chair in Rhinology. Links with the RNTNEH are such that patient access and recruitment is allied to research projects and facilitated by clinician-academics. What makes the Ear Institute exceptional is the interaction between these laboratories and scientists to create research that is both novel and distinct.


The Ear Institute contains a range of state-of-the-art facilities for high-quality research, the range and scope of which provides for considerable development in research capacity in future years. Facilities include:-

  • a dedicated molecular and cell biology laboratory equipped for a range of techniques including genotyping and real time PCR for gene expression analysis
  • a tissue culture suite incorporating 6 independent rooms and a ‘category 3’ facility for viral transfection
  • imaging equipment, including scanning and transmission electron microscopes and multi-photon and confocal imaging facilities for in vitro imaging in peripheral and central auditory structures
  • dedicated high-speed computing facilities specialised for imaging analysis and processing
  • specialist equipment for testing human auditory function including audiometric testing, otoacoustic emissions, psychophysics and facilities for examining auditory brain function by means of electro-encephalography (EEG)
  • an extensive range of modern equipment and laboratories for digital signal generation and sound testing
  • a suite of five sound-proof chambers for human and animal studies, and an anechoic chamber
  • a range of electrophysiological recording rigs for in vivo and in vitro experimentation, including one of three small-animal MEG imaging facilities in the world.


    Below is a brief overview of the supervision interests of individual members of staff. More detailed information is available on their staff pages, which can be found in our Research section.

    Prospective students should ensure that their research proposal fits with the research interests of at least two members of staff listed below.

    SupervisorArea of research
    Prof Joerg AlbertMechanosensory biology (using insect models) with particular focus on: (i) The molecular basis of mechanotransduction, (ii) (Mechano)sensory entrainment of the circadian clock and (iii) acoustic communication and its contribution to reproductive isolation in fruit flies.
    Prof Doris BamiouInterested in interventions for APD in normal and neurological populations across the age span, the prevalence of hearing loss and auditory processing deficits in patients with stroke, and the association of vestibular/balance disorders with psychiatric/cognitive disorders, with a special interest in balance in the elderly.
    Prof Martin BirchallRegenerative Medicine; development of stem-cell based, tissue-engineered organ replacements, in particular airway replacements and laryngeal transplantation.
    Dr Jennifer BizleyNeural basis of auditory and auditory-visual perception using electrophysiological, behavioural and computational methods.
    Prof Maria ChaitPsychophysics and functional brain imaging (MEG, EEG, fMRI) of auditory function; Auditory scene analysis; Attention; statistical learning.
    Dr Nicolas Daudet Mechanisms of inner ear development and regeneration; Notch signalling and the patterning of inner ear epithelia; Formation and maintenance of stereocilia.
    Dr Sally DawsonMolecular genetics of hearing disorders including age related hearing loss and otosclerosis; regulation of gene expression in sensory hair cells; cochlear stress mechanisms and the stress granule pathway.
    Dr Alain de CheveignePsychoacoustics, human electrophysiology (EEG, MEG, ABR), models of auditory processing for speech, pitch and scene analysis, audio signal processing, multichannel analysis for electrophysiology and brain imaging, indexing and mining of large databases of audio and electrophysiological data.
    Prof Jonathan GaleUnderstanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of damage, repair and regeneration in the inner ear; cochlear stress mechanisms and the stress granule pathway; stem-cell based approaches to inner ear regenerative medicine.
    Dr Dan JaggerMolecular physiology of primary auditory neurons; ion channels; role of connexins in hearing and deafness; role of cilia in cochlear development.
    Dr Nick LesicaNeural coding of speech in the inferior colliculus and auditory cortex; modulation of auditory activity by brain state; processing of interaural time differences.
    Prof Jennifer LindenCortical and thalamic mechanisms of hearing; central auditory dysfunction in neurodevelopmental disorders, schizophrenia and tinnitus.
    Prof Valerie LundProfessor of Rhinology and Honorary Consultant ENT Surgeon, with a particular interest in sinonasal tumour,  sinonasal neoplasia,  rhinosinusistis and nasal polyposi and hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasi.
    Dr Torsten MarquardtCochlear mechanics including otoacoustic emissions; low frequency sound perception; psychoacoustics, physiology and models of binaural and spatial hearing.
    Prof Shak SaeedProfessor of Otology and Neuro-Otology (Honorary Consultant). His research focusses on deafness genetics, facial palsy and implantation otology and a clinical interest in auditory nerve aplasia/hypoplasia; Cochlear implant outcomes in CMV deafened children; Outcomes in dual-array cochlear implantation; Auditory brainstem implant outcomes; Utility of botulinum toxin in facial palsy.
    Dr Roland SchaetteResearch focusses on the mechanisms of tinnitus development and the relation to cochlear damage, particularly hidden hearing loss.
    Prof Anne SchilderDedicated to developing the best research to test and evaluate new and current treatments in ENT, Hearing and Balance; clinical research methodology, eHealth records research, Patient & Public Involvement in research, research priority setting, systematic review, NIHR CRN research support.
    Dr Raj ShekhawatAssociate Professor with research interests in tinnitus, hearing aids, brain stimulation, sound therapies and higher education teaching & learning.