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Christopher L. Cunningham, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

At Brigham Young University, Dr. Cunningham's interest in neuroscience was piqued. His first major research experiences were as an undergraduate in the lab of Dr. Bryan Mackenzie at the University of Cincinnati. From the first time he set foot in the lab, he was hooked, which led him to pursue a career in scientific research. At the University of California, Davis, he studied the development of the cerebral cortex. As a postdoctoral fellow, he discovered his keen interests in the auditory system. In 2021, Dr. Cunningham started a lab at the University of Pittsburgh.

    Education & Training

  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Postdoctoral Fellowship in Neuroscience
  • The Scripps Research Institute, Postdoctoral Fellowship in Neuroscience
  • University of California, Davis, PhD in Neuroscience
  • Brigham Young University, BS in Biology
Research Interests

The Cunningham Lab is interested in understanding the neural and sensory biology of the vertebrate auditory system. Many unique and highly specialized proteins with exquisitely precise subcellular localizations are critical for each step of sound processing. Hearing loss is the most common sensory deficit, and multiple forms of hearing loss involve aberrant proteostasis—improper assembly, trafficking, and/or regulation of key auditory proteins. The lab utilizes mouse models of human deafness for its experiments. The similarities between the rodent and human auditory systems allow for a panoply of experimental manipulations that aim to uncover basic biological mechanisms and translational insights relevant for human health. The lab utilizes cutting-edge techniques including the generation and analysis of novel genetic mouse models combined with biochemistry, molecular biology, histology, viral vectors and high-resolution fluorescent microscopic imaging. Ultimately, the hope is to utilize the findings toward the development of new therapies for hearing loss and deafness. To this end, the lab is developing gene therapy strategies that can treat hearing loss.