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Senior Investigator

Lisa Cunningham, Ph.D.

Section on Sensory Cell Biology

Building 35A Room 1D971
35A Convent Drive
Bethesda MD 20892
Office: 301-443-2766
Lab: 301-443-5884

Dr. Cunningham received a BA and MA in audiology from the University of Tennessee, and she completed a clinical fellowship in audiology at Indiana University Medical Center. She then received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Virginia. Her post-doctoral fellowship in auditory neuroscience was completed in Ed Rubel’s lab at the University of Washington. Her first independent laboratory was at the Medical University of South Carolina, where she conducted NIH R01-funded studies on the mechanisms that regulate the survival and death of mechanosensory hair cells in the inner ear. She joined NIDCD in 2011 and was promoted to Senior Investigator in 2014. Basic science studies in her lab are aimed at understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that are activated when sensory hair cells are under stress. Recent work has focused on cell non-autonomous mechanisms that promote sensory hair cell survival.  Clinical/translational studies in her lab are aimed at preventing hair cell death and hearing loss in humans.

Mechanosensory hair cells that are the receptor cells of hearing and balance.

Here is a link to a video description of our work.
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  • 1) Drummond, MC; Barzik, M; Bird, JE; Zhang, D-S; Lechene, CP; Corey, DP; Cunningham, LL; Friedman, TB (2015)
  • Live-cell imaging of actin dynamics reveals mechanisms of stereocilia development and homeostasis in the inner ear.
  • Nature Communications, 6, 6873.
  • 2) Monzack, EL; May, LA; Roy, S; Gale, JE; Cunningham, LL (2015)
  • Live imaging the phagocytic activity of inner ear supporting cells in response to hair cell death.
  • Cell Death and Differentiation, doi: 10.1038/cdd.2015.48.
  • 3) Chien, WW; McDougald, D; Roy, S; Fitzgerald, TS; Cunningham, LL (2015)
  • Cochlear gene transfer mediated by adeno-associated virus: comparison of two surgical approaches.
  • Laryngoscope.
  • 4) Wang, T; Chai, R; Kim, GS; Pham, N; Jansson, L; Nguyen, D-H; Kuo, B; May, LA; Zuo, J; Cunningham, LL; Cheng, AG (2015)
  • Lgr5+ cells regenerate hair cells via proliferation and direct transdifferentiation in damaged neonatal mouse utricle.
  • Nature Communications.
  • 5) Cunningham, LL and Tucci, DL (2015)
  • Restoring synaptic connections in the inner ear after noise damage.
  • New England Journal of Medicine, 372(2), 181.
  • 6) Chien, WW; Monzack, EL; McDougald, D; Cunningham, LL (2015)
  • Gene therapy for sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Ear and Hearing, 36(1), 1.
  • 7) Baker, TG; Roy, S; Brandon, CS; Kramarenko, IK; Francis, SP; Taleb, M; Marshall, KM; Schwendener, R; Lee, F-S; Cunningham, LL (2015)
  • Heat shock protein-mediated protection against cisplatin-induced hair cell death.
  • J. Assoc Res Otolaryngol, 16, 67-80.
  • 8) May, LM; Kramarenko, II; Brandon, CS; Voelkel-Johnson, C; Roy, S; Truong, K; Francis, SP; Monzack, EL; Lee, F-S; Cunningham, LL (2013)
  • Inner ear supporting cells protect hair cells by secreting HSP70 (link is external).
  • J. Clinical Investigation, 123(8), 3577–3587.
  • 9) Roy, S; Ryals, MM; Botty, A; Fitzgerald, TS; Cunningham, LL (2013)
  • Sound preconditioning therapy in mice inhibits ototoxic hearing loss
  • J. Clinical Investigation, 123(11), 4945–4949.
  • 10) Monzack, EL and Cunningham, LL (2013)
  • Lead roles for supporting actors: Critical roles for inner ear supporting cells.
  • Hearing Research, 303:20-9
  • 11) Brandon, CS; Voelkel-Johnson, C; May, LA; Cunningham, LL (2012)
  • Dissection of adult mouse utricle and adenovirus-mediated supporting cell infection (link is external).
  • Journal of Visualized Experiments, 61, doi:10.3791/3734. Published online 28 March 20
  • 12) Francis SP; Kramarenko II; Brandon CS; Lee FS; Baker TG; Cunningham LL (2011)
  • Celastrol inhibits aminoglycoside-induced ototoxicity via heat shock protein 32.
  • Cell Death & Disease 2, e195; doi:10.1038/cddis.2011.76. Published online.
  • 13) Taleb, M; Brandon, CS; Lee, F-S; Harris, KC; Dillmann, WH; Cunningham, LL (2009)
  • Hsp70 inhibits aminoglycoside-induced hearing loss and cochlear hair cell death.
  • Cell Stress Chaperones, 14, 427-437.
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