SIU Med School Receives National Grant to Study Regeneration of Hearing Cells


June 28, 2013

SIU Med School Receives National Grant to Study Regeneration of Hearing Cells

Brandon Cox, Ph.D. Portrati Brandon Cox, Ph.D.

A research scientist at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield has been awarded a 2.5-year federal grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research to study hearing loss and the regeneration of cells in the ear that detect sound. The total budget for the grant is $398,499.

Brandon Cox, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology, is the principal investigator for the project.

Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the U.S. and a major problem with military personnel. It is primarily caused by death of sound-sensing cells, which can naturally regenerate in birds, frogs and fish. These hearing cells were not thought to regenerate in humans or other mammals until very recently when Cox discovered their regeneration properties in very young mice.

This research will use mouse models to investigate the mechanisms – genes and proteins that make regeneration possible – and will try to understand how and why it happens.

The long-term goal is to find the genes or proteins involved in regeneration so they can find a target that might make it possible to create drugs to help people with hearing loss. 

This is the second national grant awarded for Cox’s research on hearing loss. Her previous research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Cox in the lab

Dr. Cox in the lab

Cox joined SIU’s faculty in 2013. She completed her postdoctoral training at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. She earned her doctoral degree in pharmacology from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. (2008) and her bachelor's from the University of Richmond in Virginia (1999).

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