Bio-X Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Heller is interested how the inner ear forms from an early anlage called the otic placode. The lab's goal is to describe the otic lineage from an early placodal progenitor until it splits up in multiple cell types making up the sensory epithelia, innervating ganglia, and accessory structures.

In parallel, they apply knowledge they gained from guiding embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells along the otic lineage to find ways for treatment of hearing loss. This involves identification of mechanisms of sensory hair cell regeneration in animals such as chickens that recover from hearing gloss, screening for potential regenerative targets that can be activated with drugs, and exploring reprograming as well as cell transplantation strategies.