Researcher | Research Overview
The overriding purpose of my research is to translate discoveries from the study of the molecular genetics of the human auditory system into improved clinical outcomes for children with hearing loss
Short-term Research Goals:
- To improve cochlear implant outcomes by examining the interplay between the genetics of deafness and cochlear implant outcomes with particular focus on the health of the spiral ganglion
- To identify novel genes associated with genetic hearing loss by studying gene expression at the single-cell level in the spiral ganglion
- To advance genetic diagnosis for hearing loss through the use of new DNA sequencing techniques
Long-term Research Goals:
- To gain a better understanding of the molecular physiology of the human auditory system by discovering human deafness genes using exome and genome sequencing techniques
- To optimize newborn hearing screening by incorporating physiologic (OAE/ABR), genetic, and CMV screening
- To translate basic science discoveries into clinical trials using molecular therapies for hearing loss
Researcher | Research Background
Dr. Shearer completed his M.D., Ph.D., and residency in Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. He then completed a fellowship in Pediatric Otolaryngology at Boston Children's Hospital where he was recruited to stay on as faculty with an appointment at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Shearer has training in both the wet-bench as well as bioinformatics (computational) aspects of human genetics and genomics. This has allowed him to successfully approach difficult research questions in genetic hearing loss from both a molecular biology and a large-scale computational perspective. He has published internationally-recognized research primarily in discoveries related to human genetic deafness. His PhD thesis work focused on developing and validating a novel method for genetic testing for deafness (OtoSCOPE(R)). This test is now used on a clinical basis for hundreds of patients a year and has become the new standard of care for evaluation of children with hearing loss.
Dr. Shearer has significant experience with massively parallel sequencing, which is the basis for exome and genome sequencing. He has used these tools to discover human deafness genes and to uncover insights that have changed our understanding of the genetics of human deafness. Most recently, his research focus has expanded to include methods to improve the newborn hearing screen using these new genetic sequencing methods. He has also worked to uncover the complex relationship between genetic diagnosis and cochlear implant outcomes.