Research Focus of the Laboratory:
Dr. Lang’s laboratory conducts research focused on: 1) determining the cellular and molecular mechanisms of auditory nerve degeneration and 2) exploring the possibility of stem cell therapy in sensorineural hearing loss. Spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) are the primary afferent neurons that carry auditory information from the sensory cells of the inner ear to the central nervous system. SGN degeneration, often occurring with age or exposure to noise or ototoxic drugs, can cause permanent sensorineural hearing loss. Genetically modified mice and ototoxic damaged models have been used for understanding the particular genes in SGN pathogenesis and potential therapeutic applications. Our recent research on stem cell transplantation is aimed at replacing damaged SGNs, protecting SGNs from apoptosis and promoting functional recovery in several auditory-neuropathy models. Auditory electrophysiology, molecular/cellular biology, immunohistochemistry, transmission electron and confocal microscopy are used in our investigations. Dr. Lang's research is supported in part by funding from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.