Rutherford, Mark

Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology

Investigations in the Rutherford Lab are focused on the receptor-channel mechanisms underlying induction of synaptopathic excitotoxicity in the inner ear, at the glutamatergic connections between sensory hair cells and nerve fibers in the cochlea.  Hearing depends on an array of auditory nerve fibers each with different sensitivities to sound frequency and level, each being excited by mono-synaptic input.  Synaptopathy and neurodegeneration resulting from noise and aging underlie hearing disorders and deafness.  Through an understanding of what makes auditory nerve fibers different from each other, our work aims to reveal the reasons why some synapses and nerve fibers are susceptible to noise-induced trauma while others are resilient.  Current targets include AMPAR subunit composition and calcium permeability, as well as regulation of voltage-gated sodium channels and calcium-activated potassium channels.