Jung-Bum Shin, PhD, Awarded $2.3 Million for Study of Auditory Hair Cell Repair

July 5, 2023 by

Jung-Bum Shin

Jung-Bum Shin, PhD

Jung-Bum Shin, PhD, from the Department of Neuroscience, has been awarded a NIH R01 grant for over $2.3 million. The grant, titled “Mechanosensor Proteins in Hair Cell Repair,” aims to investigate the mechanisms involved in repairing auditory hair cells. These cells play a vital role in our sense of hearing but are susceptible to damage and cell death due to continuous mechanical stress. Various factors such as loud noise, aging, genetic defects, and ototoxic drugs further challenge the maintenance of hair cells. Since mammals’ auditory hair cells cannot regenerate, understanding the repair process is crucial for maintaining auditory function. The Shin lab will utilize the grant to delve into the intricate molecular mechanisms underlying the repair of hair cells’ highly sensitive mechanoreceptors.

The foundational research for this grant was led by former graduate student Elizabeth Wagner, PhD, who was part of the Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics graduate program. The outcomes of her work were recently published in the journal eLife. Specifically, the grant-funded experiments will focus on investigating the role of two proteins, XIRP2 and CRIP3, in the repair process. These proteins are hypothesized to serve as sentinel molecules, detecting structural damages in the mechanosensitive antenna of auditory hair cells and initiating repair processes.

Sensory hair cell damage and subsequent loss are responsible for more than 90% of hearing loss cases in humans. Therefore, gaining a better understanding of hair cell damage and the mechanisms involved in their repair is paramount for comprehending and addressing progressive hearing loss. Furthermore, this knowledge holds potential implications for associated conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia conditions. Patrick Oakes, PhD, a mechanobiology expert from Loyola University, will serve as a Co-PI on this grant. Elizabeth Wagner was previously supported by an NIHF31 grant and the Cellular and Molecular Biology NIH training grant. The research leading up to this grant also received generous support from the Owens Family Foundation and the Virginia Lions Hearing Foundation.

Read more about Dr. Shin’s research in the UVA Health Newsroom.

Filed Under: Faculty, Research