CBHI Congratulates Brian McDermott PhD on his Award of Tenure at the School of Medicine.
Dr. McDermott earned his PhD at Columbia University where he studied molecular virology in the laboratory of Dr. Vincent Racaniello. He initiated his studies on the hair cell as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Jim Hudspeth at the Rockefeller University. He is now tenured faculty the department of Otolaryngology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
The McDermott group's goals are to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of hair-cell development and operation, and to determine how these mechanisms relate to human hearing and deafness. The hair cell is a mechanoreceptor that is essential not only for hearing but also for balance and for the detection of water movement by aquatic vertebrates. This receptor represents mechanical stimuli as electrical responses that are relayed to the brain physiologically. While hair cells are very well understood and much is known about how they function in hearing, in order to understand the molecular basis of hearing, the genes expressed in the hair cell must be identified and their role in hearing evaluated.The McDermott group has developed a functional genomics approach involving the zebrafish (Danio rerio) model system that entails identification of hair cell-specific genes using DNA oligonucleotide microarrays followed by removal of these gene products in vivo with antisense technology. Dr. McDermott is primarily interested in how some of these genes relate to: hair-bundle morphogenesis and operation, hair-cell innervation, and ribbon synapse formation and function.
In addition to studying zebrafish genetics, the McDermott group integrates imaging, physiological, transgenic, and behavioral approaches to study hair-cell development and operation.