Our Basic Research Labs

We have several research laboratories at Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University interacting closely with The Hearing Center at Texas Children's Hospital. Through our collaborations, we remain on the cutting edge of research and patient care for children with otolaryngological problems.

The Cochlear Biophysics Laboratory

This lab is directed by William E. Brownell, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine. Our researchers are studying the biophysics of hearing in order to better derive treatments for those with hearing issues. The remarkable sensitivity of mammalian hearing results from the ability of inner ear sensory receptor cells (the outer hair cells) to generate mechanical force in response to small electric fields. The mechanism responsible for this electromotility is a membrane-based motor that resides in the cell's lateral wall. The Cochlear Biophysics Laboratory is dedicated to understanding how electromotility is generated.

The Interdepartmental Program in Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory

This lab is directed by Fred A. Pereira, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine. We use mice with mutations involving deficits in hearing and/or balance generated by random insertion mutagenesis or by homologous recombination to study the signaling pathways important for functional hearing and balance. We are also performing a structure-function mutagenesis analysis of the novel outer hair cell membrane protein prestin. These studies will help us to better understand and treat hearing and balance problems.

The Molecular Genetics Laboratory

This lab is directed by Raye Lynn Alford PhD, Baylor College of Medicine. Early intervention and effective treatment of childhood hearing loss is crucial to a child's speech, language development, and ability to learn. This lab follows children with sensorineural hearing loss over time, gathering data on their responses to standard therapies for hearing loss. Through these studies, we expect to evaluate the success of different treatments for hearing loss, including hearing aids and cochlear implants, in children with particular genetic mutations. These data will assist in the development of new guidelines for the treatment of early childhood hearing loss that take into account genetic information.

The Anvari Laboratory

This lab is directed by Bahman Anvari, PhD, Rice University. The Anvari Lab uses laser technologies to improve our understanding of cochlear outer hair cell and basilar membranes, which are crucial to hearing. These studies should help to generate new knowledge that may lead to better treatments for children with hearing impairment.

The Raphael Laboratory

This laboratory is directed by Robert Raphael, PhD, Rice University. The focus of the Raphael Lab includes electromechanical transduction in cochlear outer hair cells and the study of aspirin-like molecules and membrane mechanics. We approach scientific problems in a multidisciplinary spirit, employing both theory and experimental data to understand biologic processes at a fundamental level and apply this knowledge for the benefit of human health.