Basic Science Research

Basic science researchers in the Caruso Department work collaboratively

Using the latest technology in genetics, stem cell medicine, neuroscience and biomedical engineering, researchers find advanced solutions for disorders of the head and neck.

Our Labs & Facilities


John S. Oghalai, MD
The Oghalai lab at the Zilkha Neurogenetics Institute seeks to better understand the fundamental changes in cochlear function that underlie progressive hearing loss and to develop novel techniques to treat this problem before it leads to deafness. Clinically, our ultimate goal is to improve human health not only by caring for our patients expertly, but also by advancing our scientific knowledge base so that all physicians can treat disease more effectively.

The Oghalai Lab

Carolina Abdala, PhD
The Abdala Lab, within the USC Caruso Department of Otolaryngology, studies natural changes in cochlear mechanics throughout the arc of the human lifespan. This research aims to provide a normative framework, but also to explore the mechanisms driving such change. Recent work is focused on the potential development and application of a combined reflection (SFOAE) and distortion (DPOAE) OAE protocol to understand and describe underlying deficits, not just detect and label sensorineural hearing loss.

The Abdala Lab

Christopher Shera, PhD
The Auditory Physics Group in the Caruso Department of Otolaryngology works to solve fundamental problems in the mechanics and physiology of the auditory system. Current interests of the group include comparative cochlear mechanics, cochlear nonlinearity and amplification, middle-ear mechanics, and otoacoustic emissions.

The Auditory Physics Group

Radha Kalluri, PhD
The Kalluri Lab at the Zilkha Neurogentic Institute, led by Radha Kalluri, PhD, assistant professor of otolaryngology, explores the cochlea, an elegant hydromechanical structure in the ear, that which works to separate sounds of different frequencies and maps them onto a different place on the sensory epithelium. Specialized sensory cells that provide feedback forces to actively amplify local mechanical resonances refine this frequency-place map within the cochlea. Research is focused on understanding the biophysical mechanisms by which the auditory periphery parses frequency and intensity information, and how these
functions degrade with hearing loss.

The Kalluri Lab

Neil Segil, PhD
The Segil Lab at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine, led by Neil Segil, PhD, professor of research stem cell biology & regenerative medicine, otolaryngology, explores the death of sensory hair cells in the inner ear and their failure to regenerate – the major cause of deafness. The long-term goal of the laboratory is the treatment of deafness through regeneration of these sensory hair cells.

The Segil Lab

Brian Applegate, PhD

Our research interests are broadly to develop novel biophotonic technologies for point-of-care diagnosis and monitoring of human disease as well as the basic scientific understanding of human disease. Our primary application area is functional imaging of the middle and inner ear. We are working toward advanced diagnostics for patient care as well as advanced imaging systems for probing the fundamental mechanics of the ear.

The Applegate Lab

Raymond Goldsworthy, PhD

The Bionic Ear Lab in the Caruso Department of Otolaryngology explores ways of improving hearing for cochlear implant recipients. A focus of the lab is to optimize stimulation timing to provide better musical pitch and refined spatial hearing for cochlear implant users. Our lab emphasizes the importance of auditory training and neural plasticity in achieving optimal outcomes.

Goldsworthy Lab

Ksenia Gnedeva, PhD
In the Gnedeva Lab at the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, we investigate how the mechanical microenvironment controls sensory organ development and directs tissue repair after damage. Although the focus of our research is on hearing and balance restoration, we are interested in the common mechanisms that suppress regeneration in the specialized sensory tissues.

The Gnedeva Lab