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Sheth received his Ph.D. in pharmacology at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, where he is now a postdoctoral fellow. Sheth’s 2017 Emerging Research Grant was funded by a generous family foundation with an interest in funding strial atrophy research.

Cisplatin is a widely used chemotherapy treatment for various solid tumors. Unfortunately, its use sometimes results in permanent hearing loss. Understanding cisplatin ototoxicity (toxicity to the ear) is crucial for the development of novel treatments to combat this serious side effect.

My lab examines the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for cisplatin ototoxicity, which appears to be caused by the imbalance of ions in the cochlear fluid. Our studies found that the ionic imbalance caused by cisplatin may be due to the reduction in the activity of an enzyme regulating sodium and potassium balance that is present in the stria vascularis, an important tissue in the inner ear.

However, this suppressive effect by cisplatin may be restored through epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a substance present in green tea that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This project aims to investigate the potential of EGCG to prevent or cure hearing loss in cancer patients who are treated with cisplatin.

The seeds of my career in research were sown when, as a child, I used to spend evenings in my uncle’s drugstore wondering how different drugs cured diseases in patients. Years later as an undergrad, I used a device called a kymograph to test and record the effects of different drugs on the heart rate and force of contraction on an isolated frog heart. I became genuinely interested in the mechanism of action of different drugs—why does one drug increase the heart rate and force of contraction, and another drug does exactly the opposite?

If I hadn’t become a researcher I would be running my dad’s garment business in India. My uncle also lives in India and is suffering from noise-induced hearing loss. He blames the extremely noisy traffic on the congested streets of Mumbai as the main cause.

In my free time I like to solve Sudoku puzzles, listen to Indian music, and binge-watch my favorite shows on Netflix or HBO. I enjoy spending time with my wife by hiking, visiting the farmers market, and occasionally checking out neighborhood garage sales with her. One of my goals in life is to learn to play at least one musical instrument, so I am learning to play the guitar. Most of the people I know would be surprised to know that I was an average student in school but did very well in sports and cultural activities like singing and dancing. I have several medals to show for it!

Sandeep Sheth, Ph.D.’s grant was funded by a generous family foundation with an interest in funding strial atrophy research.