Diagnosis of synaptic damage and relationship to hidden hearing loss

Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, King's College London, Guy's Campus, London SE1 1UL, UK

A position is available to study for 3 years for a PhD at the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, King’s College London, to study the relationship between anomalies of the Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) waveform and the underlying cellular defects of the auditory system. A reduction in amplitude of wave 1 of the ABR waveform has been proposed as a diagnostic feature of damage to synapses between inner hair cells and cochlear neurons, which could explain why some people have difficulty in understanding speech even when they have normal or near-normal auditory thresholds (hidden hearing loss). However, there is limited experimental evidence for this so far, mostly confined to mice with noise-induced damage or ageing. This project will use a set of new mouse lines with mutations of known genes that we have found to have reduced wave 1amplitudes to ask if the proposed relationship between synaptic damage and small wave 1 amplitudes is a more general phenomenon (and thus a useful diagnostic tool) or can be associated with other primary defects in these new mutants. Methods include analysis of synapses using immunolabelling and confocal microscopy, 3D electron microscopy, electrophysiological recording and modelling of auditory responses to sounds.

This position is part of a European Union-funded consortium called LISTEN, which will provide excellent specialised training, as well as the training provided by the graduate school and strong neuroscience and genetics environment of King’s College London. The student will join the research group of Professor Karen P Steel. Starting date flexible up to October 2017, but a starting date before 22nd May 2017 will allow the student to join the first of the training courses in Salamanca.


Prof. Karen P. Steel