Exploring regenerative therapies for the treatment of hearing loss

Congratulations to Associate Professor Bryony Nayagam from the Melbourne School of Health Sciences, for the successful completion of her 2015-2019 Research Fellowship. This Fellowship allowed Bryony to diversify her research on regenerative therapies for the treatment of hearing loss across pre-clinical and clinical areas.

Research included studying how to produce inner ear hair cells (tiny sensors for our hearing and balance, the loss of which is linked to hearing loss), electrical stimulation of stem cell-derived auditory neurons, and applying advances in MRI to image the auditory brainstem.

Outcomes have all proved positive, with achievements such as:

  • The establishment of new data which will assist those looking for methods to protect or even restore hair cells (particularly relevant for those with hereditary hearing loss). This was in collaboration with Garnett Passe and Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation (GPRWMF) Awardee Dr Rebecca Lim.
  • Finalising a new hearing loss model that will enable definitive functional recordings of transplanted stem cells in the cochlea, using a cochlear implant.
  • Applying sophisticated imaging technique using an MRI to cochlear implant candidates, to enable clinicians to more accurately predict patient outcomes with a cochlear implant.

Bryony has been busy presenting her research at over 12 international and domestic conferences, including the invitation to speak at the 2019 International Brain Research Organisation (IBRO) World Congress, held this September in Korea; the 2018 Australian Neuroscience Society Meeting (Brisbane), the 2017 Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research (Bunker Bay); and GPRWMF’s 2016 Frontiers Meeting.

During the Fellowship, Bryony supervised a fantastic group of students, including PhD candidates, Masters, a MBBS research student, research assistants and a post-doctoral research fellow. The next step is to recruit greater numbers of undergraduate students in the lab, which Bryony hopes to achieve now she has approval to launch an Undergraduate Course in Auditory Neuroscience at The University of Melbourne in 2020. “The course will ultimately increase the numbers of undergraduate students going on to pathways in Otolaryngology, including basic research, ENT and audiology” says Bryony.

Finally, Bryony is delighted to announce that she has been awarded a University of Melbourne Faculty Research Fellowship, for her near-miss NHMRC Investigator Grant in the inaugural round. The Faculty Research Fellowship will ensure that Bryony’s research continues to translate into better outcomes for people with hearing loss.

Congratulations Bryony!

Associate Professor Bryony Nayagam is a member of the Centre for Stem Cell Systems and completes research under the Stem Cells and Engineering research theme.

Article originally published on the Garnett Passe and Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation website.

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Associate Professor Bryony Nayagam