Hearing Regeneration and Protection

Group Leader Email Number Webpage
Professor Stephen O'Leary sjoleary@unimelb.edu.au +61 3 9929 8366 View page

Research Overview

Hearing loss can occur as a result of inner ear pathologies, trauma, excessive noise, pharmacological agents or ageing. Even after significant hearing loss, protecting the remaining residual hearing can provide significant functional and quality of life benefits for the sufferer. The Hearing Regeneration and Protection group is a team of surgeons, clinicians, scientists and engineers that work collaboratively to conduct both laboratory and clinical research focused on protecting and regenerating inner ear function after surgical, noise and other traumas.

A major focus of our work is developing therapies to protect residual hearing and minimise hearing loss and tissue response after cochlear implantation. This allows for hybrid hearing strategies (acoustic hearing combined with cochlear implants) to improve both music appreciation and speech perception in noisy environments. We are also interested in regenerating hearing following trauma from excessive noise - even mild trauma to the ear to can result in synaptopathy or loss of hair cell function. It was previously thought that hearing, once lost, was unable to be restored. However our group has recently demonstrated synapse regeneration may be possible and are currently developing clinical approaches to attempt to restore hearing.

Developing these therapies involves investigating pharmacological agents, optimising drug delivery to the inner ear, and detailed examination of inner ear pathologies and the biological response to trauma. Our collaboration with the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital enables us to rapidly translate our scientific findings into clinical practise through Clinical trials.


Dr Karina Needham, Senior Research Fellow

Dr Hayden Eastwood, Research Fellow

Dr Justin Tan, Research Fellow

Dr Christo Bester, Clinical Research Fellow

Amy Hampson, Research Assistant

Kate Brody, Research Assistant

Aaron Collins, Research Engineer

Katie Davis, Clinical Trial Coordinator

Dr Jessica Choong, PhD student


The Hearing Regeneration and Protection group collaborates with a number of groups and organisations around the world. A selection of our current collaborations include:

Professor Peter Throne, The University of Auckland
Professor Anthony Gummer, University of Tuebigen
Professor Jun Ho Lee, Seoul National University
Dr Nicholas Reynolds, ARC Training Centre for Biodevices, Swinburn University
Cochlear Ltd
Frequency Therapeutics


National Health and Medical Research Council

The Garnett Passe and Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation

Cochlear Ltd

Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital

Research Projects

This Research Group doesn't currently have any projects

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Professor Stephen O'Leary