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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 15, 2005

Green To Discuss Nerve Cells And Hearing At AAAS Feb. 18

Steven Green, associate professor of biological sciences in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will speak Feb. 18 on "Molecular Mechanisms Controlling Spiral Ganglion Neuronal Survival and Death" at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, D.C.

Together with colleagues Brenda Ryals of James Madison University, Jennifer Stone of the University of Washington and Neil Segil of the House Ear Institute, Green will participate in a panel discussion on the feasibility of restoring damaged inner ear hair cells and their neural connection.

Green notes that researchers hope to restore lost hearing in humans by regenerating lost critical inner ear hair cells. In fact, such regeneration routinely occurs in non-mammalian vertebrates, such as birds, frogs and salamanders, and recent studies using gene therapy have achieved some success in regenerating hair cells in guinea pigs.

Green's current research is focused, in part, on studies of the survival of spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs), which are located in the cochlea and connect the hair cells to the brain. Preventing SGN degeneration or death is necessary for hair cell regeneration to restore hearing. Such studies are also crucial to the use of cochlear implants, currently the most effective treatment for sensorineural deafness and a research focus at the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, where Green holds an appointment in the Department of Otolaryngology. The implanted electrode arrays provide direct electrical stimulation to the SGNs, bypassing the function of lost hair cells.

Green says that understanding how electrical stimulation affects SGN survival and axon growth will lead to improved implants for treatment of the hearing impaired. Green, who has been a UI faculty member since 1987, has research interests involving the study of molecular and cellular mechanisms by which neuronal survival, neurite growth, and synaptogenesis are regulated.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu; Program: Steven Green, steven-green@uiowa.edu