Top Menu

Postdoctoral Research Position in Hearing Science

Postdoctoral Research Position in Hearing Science – Washington University 

We are seeking a fulltime postdoctoral researcher to contribute to new and ongoing experiments in our hearing science laboratory. PhDs, AuDs, or MDs are encouraged to apply.

Our research addresses questions related to the origins of physiologic measurements from the ear. Physiologic measurements of hearing and vestibular function are routinely used in clinics and basic science laboratories. Despite progress, there are gaps in knowledge about the cellular and spatial location in the inner ear where many physiologic measurements originate. For example, elevated hearing thresholds are measured daily in clinics worldwide, but we do not know exactly which cochlear cell types contribute to the threshold measurements or where along the cochlear length the cells are located. The present goal of our work is to identify the origins of objective measurements of hearing to improve their use in understanding the causes of hearing loss, for differential diagnosis, for treatment monitoring, and for studying the mechanics of hearing.

We use a variety of challenging approaches in a guinea pig model. We can provide training for surgical techniques even if you do not have any prior surgical experience. One approach we use involves ablation of the endolymphatic sac to induce endolymphatic hydrops. Another approach we use sequentially delivers drug solutions to finely spaced cochlear regions using gentle perfusions into the cochlear apex. This technique overcomes the losses of drug concentrations associated with the classical use of passive, uncontrolled round window drug delivery. We currently use postmortem histological and immunohistochemistry techniques to image the inner ear, and anticipate using newer approaches to visualize structures of the intact and live ear. These approaches are used to addresses long-standing questions of high scientific and clinical interest that still do not have answers: 1) What is the origin of the hearing loss and other symptoms that patients with Meniere’s disease experience? 2) Where along the cochlea does cochlear amplification and otoacoustic emissions originate?

Your primary role will be to make measurements using our customized data acquisition rigs, complete preliminarily analyses, and to participate in writing manuscripts. Studies initiated by you would be highly encouraged. Over the past seven years we have successfully trained four postdocs (one PhD, two AuDs, and one MD) that have contributed to a total of 10 publications, five manuscripts that have been submitted or are in preparation, and five trainee-initiated grants or awards. Salary will be commiserate with years of experience, and full health care benefits are provided. The starting date for this position can be flexible, but the ideal candidate would be available March 1, 2021. A minimum commitment of two years is required.

The department of Otolaryngology Washington University in St. Louis has a strong history of making major contributions to the field of hearing and vestibular science. At present, we have over 20 active scientists and an exciting atmosphere with a sense of community that mediates productive research. This advertised position is for the Lichtenhan Laboratory. Collaborating investigators for our ongoing projects, who you would have the opportunity to learn from, are John J. Guinan Jr. PhD (cochlear mechanics), Alec N. Salt PhD (pharmacokinetics of inner ear drug delivery), Shawn S. Goodman PhD (acoustics and signal processing), and Craig A. Buchman MD FACS (electrocochleography during human ear surgeries).

Please send inquires and CVs to Jeffery T. Lichtenhan, PhD:

To apply for this job email your details to

Comments are closed.


I began studying the vestibular system during my dissertation research at the Università di Pavia with Professors Ivo Prigioni and GianCarlo Russo. I had two postdoctoral fellowships, first at the University of Rochester with Professor Christopher Holt and then at the University of Illinois at Chicago with Professors Jonathan Art and Jay Goldberg.

My research focuses on characterizing the biophysics of synaptic transmission between hair cells and primary afferents in the vestibular system. For many years an outstanding question in vestibular physiology was how the transduction current in the type I hair cell was sufficient, in the face of large conductances on at rest, to depolarize it to potentials necessary for conventional synaptic transmission with its unique afferent calyx.

In collaboration with Dr. Art, I overcame the technical challenges of simultaneously recording from type I hair cells and their enveloping calyx afferent to investigate this question. I was able to show that with depolarization of either hair cell or afferent, potassium ions accumulating in the cleft depolarize the synaptic partner. Conclusions from these studies are that due to the extended apposition between type I hair cell and its afferent, there are three modes of communication across the synapse. The slowest mode of transmission reflects the dynamic changes in potassium ion concentration in the cleft which follow the integral of the ongoing hair cell transduction current. The intermediate mode of transmission is indirectly a result of this potassium elevation which serves as the mechanism by which the hair cell potential is depolarized to levels necessary for calcium influx and the vesicle fusion typical of glutamatergic quanta. This increase in potassium concentration also depolarizes the afferent to potentials that allow the quantal EPSPs to trigger action potentials. The third and most rapid mode of transmission like the slow mode of transmission is bidirectional, and a current flowing out of either hair cell or afferent into the synaptic cleft will divide between a fraction flowing out into the bath, and a fraction flowing across the cleft into its synaptic partner.

The technical achievement of the dual electrode approach has enabled us to identify new facets of vestibular end organ synaptic physiology that in turn raise new questions and challenges for our field. I look forward with great excitement to the next chapter in my scientific story.


Charles C. Della Santina, PhD MD is a Professor of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery and Biomedical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he directs the Johns Hopkins Cochlear Implant Center and the Johns Hopkins Vestibular NeuroEngineering Laboratory.

As a practicing neurotologic surgeon, Dr. Della Santina specializes in treatment of middle ear, inner ear and auditory/vestibular nerve disorders. His clinical interests include restoration of hearing via cochlear implantation and management of patients who suffer from vestibular disorders, with a particular focus on helping individuals disabled by chronic postural instability and unsteady vision after bilateral loss of vestibular sensation. His laboratory’s research centers on basic and applied research supporting development of vestibular implants, which are medical devices intended to partially restore inner ear sensation of head movement. In addition to that work, his >90 publications include studies characterizing inner ear physiology and anatomy; describing novel clinical tests of vestibular function; and clarifying the effects of cochlear implantation, vestibular implantation, superior canal dehiscence syndrome and intratympanic gentamicin therapy on the inner ear and central nervous system.  Dr. Della Santina is also the founder and CEO/Chief Scientific Officer of Labyrinth Devices LLC, a company dedicated to bringing novel vestibular testing and implant technology into routine clinical care.

Andrew Griffith received his MD and PhD in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University in 1992. He completed his general surgery internship and a residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Michigan in 1998. He also completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Department of Human Genetics as part of his training at the University of Michigan. In 1998, he joined the Division of Intramural Research (DIR) in the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). He served as a senior investigator, the chief of the Molecular Biology and Genetics Section, the chief of the Otolaryngology Branch, and the director of the DIR, as well as the deputy director for Intramural Clinical Research across the NIH Intramural Research Program. His research program identifies and characterizes molecular and cellular mechanisms of normal and disordered hearing and balance in humans and mouse models. Two primary interests of his program have been hearing loss associated with enlargement of the vestibular aqueduct, and the function of TMC genes and proteins. The latter work lead to the discovery that the deafness gene product TMC1 is a component of the hair cell sensory transduction channel. Since July of 2020, he has served as the Senior Associate Dean of Research and a Professor of Otolaryngology and Physiology in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Gwenaëlle S. G. Géléoc obtained a PhD in Sensory Neurobiology from the University of Sciences in Montpellier (France) in 1996. She performed part of her PhD training at the University of Sussex, UK where she characterized sensory transduction in vestibular hair cells and a performed a comparative study between vestibular and cochlear hair cells. Gwenaelle continued her training as an electrophysiologist at University College London studying outer hair cell motility and at Harvard Medical School studying modulation of mechanotransduction in vestibular hair cells. As an independent investigator at the University of Virginia, she expanded this work and characterized the developmental acquisition of sensory transduction in mouse vestibular hair cells, the developmental acquisition of voltage-sensitive conductances in vestibular hair cells and the tonotopic gradient in the acquisition of sensory transduction in the mouse cochlea. This work along with quantitative spatio-temporal studies performed on several hair cell mechanotransduction candidates lead her to TMC1 and 2 and long-term collaborations with Andrew Griffith and Jeff Holt. Dr. Géléoc is currently Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, at Boston Children’s Hospital where she continues to study molecular players involved in the development and function of hair cells of the inner ear and develops new therapies for the treatment of deafness and balance, with a particular focus on Usher syndrome.

Jeff Holt earned a doctorate from the Department of Physiology at the University of Rochester in 1995 for his studies of inward rectifier potassium channels in saccular hair cells.  He went on to a post-doctoral position in the Neurobiology Department at Harvard Medical School and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where he characterized sensory transduction and adaptation in hair cells and developed a viral vector system to transfect cultured hair cells.  Dr. Holt’s first faculty position was in the Neuroscience Department at the University of Virginia.  In 2011 the lab moved to Boston Children’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Holt is currently a Professor in the Departments of Otolaryngology and Neurology in the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center.  Dr. Holt and his team have been studying sensory transduction in auditory and vestibular hair cells over the past 20 years, with particular focus on TMC1 and TMC2 over the past 12 years.  This work lead to the discovery that TMC1 forms the hair cell transduction channel.  His work also focuses on development gene therapy strategies for genetic hearing loss.