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Glen Watson

1977 B.S. (Zoology) University of Georgia, Athens, GA

1981 M.S. (Cell Biology) Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

1983 Ph.D. Cell Biology Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

Watson's Lab webpage

Our biomedical research concerns hearing and, specifically, a promising treatment for certain forms of deafness. Hearing depends on the presence of healthy sensory cells called hair cells. Hair cells are crucial both to hearing and balance. Although deafness has many causes, deafness caused by sound trauma (loud sounds) results from damage to the mechanoreceptor apparatus of hair cells and in particular, protein linkages necessary to maintain its structural integrity. Certain of these linkages are thought to directly pull open a covering to ion channels that must be opened in order for hearing to occur. Loud noise disrupts the linkages and therefore causes deafness. Mammals have only a limited ability to repair damaged hair cells. In mammals, damaged hair cells die and are not replaced. Our research involves isolating and characterizing secreted replacement linkages produced by sea anemones, primitive marine invertebrates. Anemones secrete these replacement linkages in response to experimentally induced damage to their hair cells. We now know that anemone replacement linkages are capable of restoring function to traumatized hair cells in the lateral lines of fishes. Furthermore, the anemone linkages rescue the fish hair cells from apoptosis (a form of cell death). It remains to be determined whether the anemone linkages will restore hearing in a mammal. We are isolating genes involved in hair cell repair. The first candidate gene isolated in anemones is highly conserved with genes occurring in vertebrates including humans. We are hopeful that this research may lead to the development of a treatment for deafness caused by acute sound trauma.

The research is funded by the NIH and NSF.

Feel free to contact me at this address:

Glen M. Watson, Department of Biology, PO Box 42451, Lafayette, LA 70504 or Telephone: (337) 482-5667