Application of stem cell-derived neurons to the deaf cochlea

Project Details


Successful replacement of damaged auditory neurons will have widespread health benefits by increasing the numbers of suitable candidates for cochlear implantation and by improving the benefits currently derived from this prosthesis. The goal of this program of research is to reverse the deafness-induced loss of auditory neurons, using stem cells as a source of replacement cells. A key step toward this goal is to determine whether these stem cell-derived neurons are capable of functional integration in the deaf auditory pathway, and whether their integration can be enhanced following electrical stimulation from a cochlear implant. Projects under this research theme involve multi-disciplinary, cross-institutional collaborations between A/Prof Mirella Dottori, A/Prof James Fallon and Prof Rob Shepherd.


  • Ms Tomoko Hyakumura (post-doctoral research fellow)
  • Ms Madeline Nciholson (research assistant)
  • Ms Brianna Flynn (research assistant)
  • Mr Basil Rasi (MBBS research student)
  • Mr Matthew Wilson (Masters of Audioogy student)


  • A/Prof Mirella Dottori, Centre for Neural Engineering
  • A/Prof James Fallon, Bionics Institute
  • Prof Rob Shepherd, Bionics Institute


Garnett Passe & Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation

Research Publications

Nayagam, B.A.(CA), Backhouse, S.S, Cimenkaya, C. and Shepherd, R.K. (2012) Hydrogel limits stem cell dispersal in the deaf cochlea: implications for cochlear implants. Journal of Neural Engineering, Dec 9(6): 065001. doi: 10.1088/1741-2560/9/6/065001

Nayagam B.A.(CA) (2012) Human stem cells ameliorate auditory evoked responses in a model of neuropathy. Stem Cell Research and Therapy, 3:44-45

Backhouse, S.#, Coleman, B.# and Shepherd, R.K. (2008) Surgical access to the mammalian cochlea for cell-based therapies. Experimental Neurology, 214(2):193-200

Coleman, B.(CA), Hardman, J., Coco, A., Epp, S., de Silva, M., Crook, J., Shepherd, R.K. (2006)   Fate of embryonic stem cells transplanted into the deafened mammalian cochlea. Journal of Cell Transplantation. 15:369-380.

Research Group

Auditory Neuroscience Unit

Faculty Research Themes


Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Audiology and Speech Pathology

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