As part of our series on the past 5 years of the collaborative research at SICHL and the coming 5 years, we asked each Principle Investigator to answer a few questions about their lab. Below are the answers from the Oghalai Lab

Q) What has your lab learned about hearing and/or hearing loss over the last 5 years?

A) We have been studying how sound vibrates the hair cells within the cochlea, and how loss of some of the hair cells affects the ability of the rest of the hair cells to work. This is important because it will help us to develop more effect treatments for patients with hearing loss and better hearing aid and cochlear implant programming algorithms for those who use these devices. To do this, we have developed a new technique, Volumetric Optical Coherence Tomography and Vibrometry (VOCTV) to image the cochlea non-invasively in animals.

Q) What has been your lab’s biggest challenge?

A) While we can find excellent trainees to do the biological experiments, finding and supporting software engineers to write the code to support the highly-complex and hardware-intensive experiments that we do has been a challenge.

Q) What are your goals for the research in the coming 5 years?

A) Our goal is to translate VOCTV for use in patients. We would like to be able to tell a patient why, specifically, they have hearing loss. For example, what tissues and cells along which regions of the cochlea are affected in them. We can then use this information to guide treatment in a more specific way, rather than just using hearing tests.