Basic Research

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Our laboratory-based investigations at Ear Science Institute include studies on tissue engineering of autologous human tympanic membranes for repair of chronic perforations and development of human cell models for studying regenerative cell biology in the middle and inner ear. 

Under the supervision of Lead Investigator Professor Rodney Dilley, significant inroads are being made in human tissue engineering taking a two-tiered approach:

  • Culture of cells derived from the human tympanic membrane and differentiated from stem cells


  • Evaluation of biocompatible scaffolds capable of supporting human tympanic membrane cell growth and function

Studies of keratinocytes cultured from donated samples of human tympanic membrane tissue are used to determine how best to promote tympanic membrane repair and to understand cellular interactions with scaffold materials.  We also isolate stem cells from within tympanic membrane cell populations to study how they might be harnessed to promote regeneration.

Current Projects

Ear Science’s basic research investigate Cell Biology of Human Tympanic Membrane Repair, Engineering a Human Tympanic Membrane and conditions of the Inner Ear. 

Honours and PhD/Masters students have the opportunity to join Ear Science research in investigating the basic research projects below. If you are an Honours or Post Graduate researcher and would like to apply to join a project, please email including: current CV, research topic and academic transcript.

Ear Science offers exciting opportunities for students and academics to advance their careers through leading innovative research in hearing health.

Cell Biology of Human Tympanic Membrane (TM) Repair

  • Regulation of migration and proliferation of cultured TM keratinocytes.
  • Isolation and characterisation of stem cells from human TM for tissue engineering.
  • Is TM skin or cartilage? The extracellular matrix structure of the TM in health and disease.
  • Signalling pathways for proliferation and differentiation in human TM keratinocytes.

Engineering a Human Tympanic Membrane

  • Development of chronic tympanic membrane perforations.
  • Otological biocompatibility of scaffold materials.
  • Mechanisms underlying improvements in hearing and healing after myringoplasty.
  • Characteristics and optimisation of cell growth on silk fibroin.
  • Effect of growth factor combinations on migration and proliferation of TM cells.
  • 3D printing of tympanic membrane.

Inner Ear

  • Pluripotent stem cell differentiation for inner ear cell therapies. 
  • Genetic causes of hearing loss and their treatment.