By Tara Guastella
Last Saturday, the second meeting of the year for the members of the Hearing Restoration Project (HRP) consortium occurred. In conjunction with the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO) Midwinter Meeting, the HRP meeting took place in sunny San Diego—a much-needed respite from the frigid temperatures many of us around the country are encountering!
This HRP meeting was unique as it was the first time the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the HRP was invited to attend. During the meeting, scientists for each of the currently funded HRP projects made brief presentations of their research progress. Following each presentation, other consortium members and SAB members took part in lively discussion identifying new ideas and opportunities for collaboration.
The group also had an in-depth discussion about the use of bioinformatics. These are sophisticated computational tools that will allow HRP consortium members to analyze large sets of cross-species data. Bioinformatics is a crucial part of the work of the HRP consortium as it will help identify and compare which genes allow for the natural regeneration of hair cells in animals like chickens and fish, and which genes inhibit this regeneration in animals like mice.
Once we have a clearer understanding around the genetics that allow for hair cell regeneration, we can begin to move into Phase II of our Strategic Research Plan. Phase II centers around using the knowledge gleaned through bioinformatic analysis to trigger hair cell regeneration in mammals—getting us one step closer to a cure for hearing loss and tinnitus.
Stay tuned for updates on newly funded HRP projects to be announced this spring!