Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Jeremy Duncan

Second Advisor

William Merbs

Third Advisor

Sydney Sheltz-Kempf


Hearing loss impacts nearly 48 million Americans per year (Center for Hearing, 2020). Those that suffer from hearing loss face stigmatization and a decreased quality of life due to inability to communicate with loved ones or partake in activities that once brought them joy. The inner ear, specifically the cochlea, is very important for hearing and houses the organ of Corti (OC). Within the OC there are two types of sensory cells: inner hair cells (IHCs) and outer hair cells (OHCs), which allow for perception of sound. Gata3 is a critical gene in the inner ear for the development and maintenance of both IHCs and OHCs. Exposure to loud noises for long periods of time causes trauma and sometimes death in OHCs. Loss of OHC in the inner ear results in deterioration of hearing, yet for gene therapies, it must first be determined that the therapy will not cause deleterious effects in the undamaged OHCs in the cochlea. To do this, we overexpressed Gata3 in maturing OHCs in the mouse cochlea using the Prestin-Cre genetic line. Overexpression of Gata3 was not found to have any effect on OHCs, nor did it impact innervation of OHCs. Therefore, this study provides preliminary data for functional studies for the Duncan lab to pursue and informs future gene therapy.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted

Restricted to Campus until