Research Areas

Molecular Otology
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Hair Cell Biology & Regeneration
Otitis Media
Auditory Proteomics
Middle Ear Microphone
Molecular Anatomy of Head & Neck Cancer
Photodynamic Therapy
Tissue Engineering
Focused Laryngeal Stimulation
Other Research Projects

Hearing Research Program

Director of Research: Kumar Alagramam, PhD
Department Chair: Cliff Megerian, MD
Department Administrator: Jonathan Volpe, MBA
Research Coordinator: Sherrie Irwin

Welcome to the research program in the Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery at Case Western Reserve University.  Our mission is to create a premier center for otolaryngology head and neck surgery science by fostering the highest quality research in the field and encouraging innovation through collaboration. While the department’s research program encompasses all studies associated with conditions affecting the head and neck, the primary focus is hearing and balance research. Key avenues of research in our department include molecular otology, otitis media and hair cell biology, and we continually work to determine how these mechanisms relate to human hearing and deafness. The list of faculty and their areas of research can be found by clicking the following link: We are proud to state that all of our full-time research faculty members are currently supported by grants from the NIH or other sources.

The strength of our program is enhanced by an excellent interdisciplinary and collaborative intellectual environment at CWRU and by the proximity to world-class facilities and institutions, including the University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Metrohealth Medical Center, The Loius Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center and the like. The greatest and most constant source of inspiration comes from a long tradition of excellence at CWRU (

Fellowships and Honors

Congratulations to Adrian Au for being awarded the Howard Hughes Medical Research Fellowship for the 2014-15 academic year! Adrian is a medical student from CWRU. Before applying for the HHMI fellowship, Adrian completed his research rotation as a medical student in the Department of Otolaryngology at CWRU under the guidance of Kumar Alagramam, PhD.

Recent publications from our group that highlight ongoing research

Alagramam KN, Stepanyan R, Jamesdaniel S, Chen D H-C, Daviss RR. Noise exposureimmediately activates cochlear MAPK signaling. Noise and Health (in press September 2014)

Melki SJ, Yiping L, Semaan MT, Zheng, QY, Megerian CA, Alagramam KN. (2014) A mouse model validates the utility of electrocochleography in verifying endolymphatic hydrops. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 15(3):413-21.

Antonellis PJ, Pollock LM, Chou SW, Hassan A, Geng R, Chen X, Fuchs E, Alagramam KN, Auer M, McDermott BM Jr. (2014) ACF7 Is a Hair-Bundle Antecedent, Positioned to Integrate Cuticular Plate Actin and Somatic Tubulin. J Neurosci. 34(1):305-12.

Au A, Stuyt JG, Chen D, Alagramam K. (2013) Ups and downs of viagra: revisiting ototoxicity in the mouse model. PLoS One. 8(11):e79226. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079226.

Gerka-Stuyt J, et al (2013) Transient receptor potential melastatin 1: a hair cell transduction channel candidate. PLoS One. 2013 Oct 11;8(10):e77213.

Geng, R., et al. (2013) Noddy, a mouse harboring a missense mutation in protocadherin-15, reveals the impact of disrupting a critical interaction site between tip-link cadherins in inner ear hair cells. J. Neurosci. 33(10):4395-4404.

Geng, R., et al (2012) The Mechanosensory Structure of the Hair Cell Requires Clarin-1, a Protein Encoded by Usher Syndrome III Causative Gene. J. Neurosci. 32(28):9485-9498.

Zheng QY, et al (2012) Digenic inheritance of deafness caused by 8J allele of myosin-VIIA and mutations in other Usher I genes. Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Jun 1; 21 (11) :2588-98.

Tian C, et al (2012). Otitis Media in a New Mouse Model for CHARGE Syndrome with a Deletion in the Chd7 Gene. PLoS One. 2012; 7 (4) :e34944.

Alagramam, KN, et al (2011) Mutations in Protocadherin 15 and Cadherin 23 Affect Tip Links and Mechanotransduction in Mammalian Sensory Hair Cells. PLoS One. 6(4):e19183.

West MC and McDermott BM Jr. (2011) Ribeye a-mCherry fusion protein: a novel tool for labeling synaptic ribbons of the hair cell. J Neurosci Methods. 197(2):274-8.

Chou SW, et al (2011) Fascin 2b is a component of stereocilia that lengthens actin-based protrusions. PLoS One. 6(4):e14807.

Relevant Websites

Action on Hearing Loss

National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

The National Organization for Hearing and Research Foundation

Hearing Health Foundation

American Hearing Research Foundation

A Great Place to Live and Work

Case Western Reserve University is located in University Circle, a 550-acre, park-like concentration of nearly 50 cultural, medical, educational, religious and social service institutions at the eastern edge of Cleveland, Ohio. CWRU offers an intimate collegiate/research setting within a city bustling with activity in health care, law, and business. In addition to the university, the community includes Severance Hall, home of the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra; the Cleveland Museum of Art, housing one of the nation's finest collections; the Cleveland Institute of Music; the Cleveland Institute of Art; University Hospitals of Cleveland; the Western Reserve Historical Society; the Cleveland Botanical Garden; the Cleveland Museum of Natural History; and many others. All are within walking distance of the university.

For downtown info, visit For more historical information regarding Case, University Circle or the city of Cleveland, visit