Directed Differentiation of stem cells to cochlear phenotypes

Project Details

Directed Differentiation of stem cells to cochlear phenotypes

We are born with a finite number of cochlear hair cells and neurons and these specialised cell types do not regenerate. In addition, they are susceptible to a number of insults including loud noise, certain anitbiotics, cisplatin and ageing. Hearing loss may also have genetic origins. The aims of this basic research is to generate cochlear sensory cell phenotypes (hair cells and auditory neurons) from human pluripotent and induce pluripotent stem cells. Differentiated cells are charactersied using a combination of molecular, physiological and imaging techniques and are interrogated to better understand basic anatomy and physiology. Projects under this research theme involve multi-disciplinary, cross-institutional collaborations between A/Prof Mirella Dottori, A/Prof Alice Pebay and Dr Rebecca Lim.


  • Ms Tomoko Hyakumura (post-doctoral research fellow)
  • Mr Marcus Zavou (Masters of Audiology student)
  • Ms Christian Mattei (PhD student, principal supervisor Dr M Dottori)


  • A/Prof Mirella Dottori, Centre for Neural Engineering
  • A/Prof Alice Pebay, Centre for Eye Research Australia
  • Dr Rebecca Lim, University of Newcastle


  • Garnett Passe & Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation
  • National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (GNT1023372)

Research Publications

Gill KP, Hung SS, Sharov A, Lo CY, Needham K, Lidgerwood GE, Jackson S, Crombie DE, Nayagam BA, Cook AL, Hewitt AW, P├ębay A, Wong RC. (2016) Enriched retinal ganglion cells derived from human embryonic stem cells. Scientific Reports  Aug 10;6:30552. doi: 10.1038/srep30552

Gunewardene, N., Van Bergen, N., Crombie, D., Needham, K., Dottori, M. and Nayagam, B.A. (2014). Directing human induced pluripotent stem cells into a neurosensory lineage for auditory neuron replacement. BioResearch Open Access 3(4):162-175

Nayagam, B. A.(CA), and Minter, R. L. (2012) A comparison of treatments for directing the differentiation of stem cells toward a sensory neural fate. American Journal of Otolaryngology, 33(1):37-46

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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