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Melissa M. McGovern, PhD

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

Dr. McGovern is a neuroscientist who investigates inner ear hair cell regeneration in the setting of hearing loss.

    Education & Training

  • Baylor College of Medicine, Postdoc
  • Southern Illinois University, PhD in Pharmacology and Neuroscience
  • Illinois College, Bachelor's
Research Interests

The McGovern Lab investigates the potential of the mammalian inner ear to regenerate following the loss of sensory cells that detect and transduce sound from the environment to the brain. These highly specialized cells are critical for our perception of the auditory world, but, unlike birds and fish, the mammalian inner ear has a very limited capacity to regenerate these cells and only early in development. The mature organ does not have any known capacity to naturally regenerate lost cells, and therefore our lab deploys transcription factors in order to reprogram lost sensory cells from their neighbors that remain in the ear. We use genetically modified mouse lines that modify the transcriptome of cochlear cells specifically in mature non-sensory cells of the ear and investigate these through high resolution fluorescence histology and molecular genetic mechanisms. We are interested in understanding the circumstances necessary to reprogram non-hair cells into functional hair cells so that we can begin to design gene therapies for hearing restoration.