Spring 2013 Jaconette L. Tietze Young Scientist Award
The Jaconette L. Tietze Young Scientist Research Award is for one year of support of $25,000. Preference will be given to senior postdoctoral fellows nearing independence and/or junior faculty located at the UW who have not yet received major external funding (such as an R01). The research should involve or be relevant to some aspect of stem or progenitor cell biology or therapies.
Leslayann Schecterson, PhD
Acting Instructor, Physiology and Biophysics (Bothwell Lab)
University of Washington
Regenerating the Endbulb Synapse, the Key to Central Nervous System Auditory Transmission
Hearing disorders are a growing challenge as the population ages, effecting more than 360 million people worldwide (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2013/hearing_loss 20130227/en/). Regardless of the cause – environmental or genetic, hearing loss results in irreversible degeneration of the auditory nerve. The goals of this research focus on using human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) for two purposes: 1) therapeutic – to replace lost auditory nerve cells and 2) basic research tool – to study important molecules directing this process. A specialized connection or synapse develops (referred to as the Endbulb of Held) between the auditory nerve and the first group of cells in the brainstem receiving sound information. Correct formation of the Endbulb is crucial for the rapid, faithful transmission of auditory information to the brain. Specifically in this proposal, I will employ the chick embryo, a relevant and accessible in vivo model, to determine the conditions necessary for hiPSCs to develop properly formed Endbulbs of Held. Knowledge of the molecular mechanisms directing Endbulb formation will contribute to the eventual success of creating auditory nerves from patient-derived iPSCs.