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SHBT Student Christine Junhui Liu Awarded Science and Innovation Fellowship by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

 

Christine LiuSHBT Student Christine Junhui Liu was among four Harvard doctoral students awarded Science and Innovation Fellowships for the 2020-2021 academic year by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Christine is a doctoral student in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology, Division of Medical Sciences. Her research aims to increase understanding of the neural mechanisms of auditory plasticity. She want to find new ways to stimulate brain rewiring for the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders. She seeks to understand the impact of early sound and language on child brain development and to help children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Christine received a B.A. in neuroscience and a B.M. in music theory from Northwestern University. Her mentor is Anne E. Takesian, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School.

 

Each Science and Innovation Fellow will receive a grant to support her or his independent dissertation research. The Fellowship was created with the aim of creating a new generation of leaders who will leverage science for innovation in early childhood policy and practice settings to make research actionable. The Fellowship program fosters interdisciplinary collaboration and builds each Fellow’s capacity to design, conduct, and translate research into practices and policies that will improve outcomes for children facing adversity.

 

About the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

 

The mission of the Center on the Developing Child is to drive science-based innovation that achieves breakthrough outcomes for children facing adversity. We believe that advances in science provide a powerful source of new ideas focused on the early years of life. Founded in 2006, the Center catalyzes local, national, and international innovation in policy and practice focused on children and families. We design, test, and implement these ideas in collaboration with a broad network of research, practice, policy, community, and philanthropic leaders.

 

For more information about the Center on the Developing Child, please visit: http://developingchild.harvard.edu/

 


 

Recent SHBT Graduate Ariel Yeh’s featured in the Harvard Gazette

 

Ariel YehSHBT Graduate Ariel Yeh’s research on recessive genes and genome editing to address hearing loss are featured in this recent article in the Harvard Gazette:

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/06/gene-editing-may-be-a-path-to-restore-partial-hearing/

 

 


 

2020-2021 Amelia Peabody Scholarship

 

The 2020-2021 Amelia Peabody Scholarship has been awarded jointly to Junhui (Christine) Liu and Stephen McInturff, G2 and G4 students, respectively, in the Harvard Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology (SHBT) Program. In addition, the committee awarded a professional development prize to Meenakshi Asokan, a G5 student.

 

Christine LiuChristine is doing her doctoral research with Dr. Anne Takesian of the Department of Otolaryngology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE). She is interested in neural mechanisms of auditory plasticity, with the goal of identifying novel ways to stimulate brain rewiring following peripheral hearing loss or neurological disorders. Her research focuses on a group of inhibitory neurons in superficial layers of the auditory cortex that plays a role in regulating cortical plasticity. Using a combination of trans-synaptic tracing techniques, optogenetics, and electrophysiology, she characterizes the molecular identity, long- range projections, and synaptic physiology of these inhibitory neurons. Despite spending only a short time in Dr. Takesian’s lab, Christine was able to present a poster that sparked excitement within the auditory neuroscience community at the 2020 midwinter meeting of the Association of Research in Otolaryngology (ARO). Christine also has a paper in Hearing Research based on the work on "hidden hearing loss" she did in the laboratory of Dr. Nina Kraus at Northwestern University before joining the SHBT program.

 

Stephen McInturffSteve is working jointly with Dr. Christian Brown and Dr. Daniel Lee, both with the Department of Otolaryngology at MEE. His research aims at improving the auditory brainstem implant (ABI), a device that restores hearing in profoundly deaf patients who do not qualify for the more widely used cochlear implant. Using mouse models, Steve aims to optimize electrode placement for ABI and achieve more selective stimulation of neurons using optogenetics than is possible with electric stimulation. Steve also plays a key role in a collaborative project with Dr. Stéphanie Lacour of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) that aims at developing new, flexible electrode arrays for ABI. He applies the techniques he acquired in mouse models for testing novel electrode arrays in nonhuman primates. Steve is author of a paper resulting from this collaboration in Science Translational Medicine. He also presented his research findings at several international conferences, including the 2020 ARO meeting and the 2019 Conference on Implantable Auditory Prostheses (CIAP).

 

Meenakshi AsokanMeenakshi is doing her doctoral research with Dr. Daniel Polley of the Department of Otolaryngology at MEE. She has a first-author paper in Nature Communications which showed that the activity of a class of auditory cortical neurons that widely project both to subcortical auditory centers and brain areas that regulate mood and emotion is greatly upregulated following cochlear lesions that mimic the pathology thought to underlie hidden hearing loss. Her work reveals how central auditory hyperactivity can impact the activity of brain areas that cause dysregulation of mood, sleep and compulsive behaviors. In ongoing work, she finds that auditory cortical neurons, but not subcortical neurons, can encode the percept associated with the transition from a regular sound rhythm to an irregular rhythm. This finding is one of the first demonstrations of de novo cortical encoding of an emergent sound feature.

 

The Amelia Peabody Scholarship was established in 2008 through a generous donation to support SHBT students working with MEE faculty. The selection was done by a committee consisting of Dr. Bradley Welling (MEE, Chair), Dr. Bertrand Delgutte (MEE), Dr. Evelina Fedorenko (MIT), Dr. Gwenaëlle Géléoc (BCH), Dr. Sunil Puria (MEE), and Dr. Kristina Simonyan (MEE).

 


 

SHBT and COVID-19

SHBT Faculty Satrajit Ghosh and PhD student Daniel Low are quoted in an article from Business Insider:

Do I sound sick to you? Researchers are building AI that would diagnose COVID-19 by listening to people talk.

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/ai-labs-diagnose-covid-19-voice-listening-talk-2020-4

 


 

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