Gene and Cell Therapy Program for Auditory Disorders

Program Director:  Samuel M. Young, Jr., Ph.D.

The University of Iowa Gene and Cell Therapy Program for Auditory Disorders is centered on the development of novel gene and cell therapies for the treatment of auditory disorders. This program emphasizes both basic and translational research into the biology of the inner ear, under normal conditions as well as in the context of disease. A major goal will be to identify molecular pathways that can be manipulated to either preserve or restore hearing function in humans. The program is divided into the following lines of research: 

  1. Development of novel viral vectors  for cell-type specific transduction and gene expression in the inner ear 
  2. Delineation of the regulatory networks that govern development of the inner ear, and the application of this information to the development of stem-cell therapies 
  3. Elucidation of neuroinflammatory mechanisms that contribute to the pathogenesis underlying inner ear disease 

This program will continue to build upon the University of Iowa’s longstanding strength in hearing research, which is led by the Department of Otolaryngology (ranked 6thin the nation in 2019-2020 by U.S. News and World Report) and synergizes within the auditory neuroscience community of the Iowa Neuroscience Institute, the Department of Neurosurgery, and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Its success is additionally fostered by the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, which provides a unique research environment by actively promoting collaborative translational research and collaboration between basic scientists and clinicians.