Alfred L. Nuttall, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, School of Medicine
  • Director, Oregon Hearing Research Center, School of Medicine
  • Jack Vernon Endowed Professor in Hearing Research, Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, School of Medicine


Dr. Nuttall received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Lowell Technological Institute, Lowell, MA, in 1965, two M.S. degrees in bioengineering and electrical engineering and a Ph.D. degree in bioengineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1968, 1969, and 1972, respectively. His postdoctoral work was completed at Kresge Hearing Research Institute, Department of Otolaryngology, University of Michigan, where he became an Assistant Professor in 1976, a Professor in 1987, and a Professor-Emeritus in 1996. Thereafter, he joined Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, where he is currently a Professor of Otolaryngology and Director of the Oregon Hearing Research Center, Vice Chair for Research and Jack Vernon Endowed Professor in Hearing Research at Oregon Health & Science University. He is the author or coauthor of over 200 peer-reviewed articles on cochlear mechanics and cochlear blood flow.

Research Interest:

Hearing function and hearing loss Cochlear physiology, with particular interest in: How does load sound cause hearing loss? How do the sensory cells of the organ of Corti amplify and discriminate complex sounds?

Major Milestones and Significant Discoveries

Proof that spontaneous otoacoustic emissions come from vibration of the basilar membrane

The cochlea produces nitric oxide (NO) in abundance The organ of Corti produces power in response to sound A technology to measure human cochlear blood flow

Summary of Research Interests

Dr. Nuttall's research focuses on hearing function and hearing loss. The Nuttall lab is interested in how loud sounds causes hearing loss and how the sensory cells of the organ of Corti amplify and discriminate complex sounds.

Dr. Nuttall's research interests in cochlear physiology are divided into two major areas:

Dr. Nuttall's research focuses on hearing function and hearing loss. The Nuttall lab is interested in how loud sounds causes hearing loss and how the sensory cells of the organ of Corti amplify and discriminate complex sounds.Dr. Nuttall's research interests in cochlear physiology are divided into two major areas:

1) Mechanical processing of acoustic energy and function of the sensory cells,

2) The control of inner ear blood flow and the pathophysiology of cochlear blood circulation including the cellular and molecular mechanisms of noise-induced hearing loss in the vascular tissue, lateral wall and in the sensory cells of the organ of Corti.

The measurement of physiological variables for cochlear mechanics and blood flow is accomplished with the use of state of the art approaches. For example, laser interferometry is used to determine the motion of cellular structures in the organ of hearing, the organ of Corti, and Doppler optical microangiography is used to make direct observations of blood flow responses to loud sound in capillaries within the cochlea. Loud sound induced hearing loss elicits a multitude of deleterious responses including hypoxia/ischemia, inflammation, increased metabolic stress and vascular permeability, all which increase reactive oxygen species and may result in cell death. Dr. Nuttall's lab is studying the mechanisms by which loud sound-induced signal transduction pathways which contribute to hearing loss.

Education and training

    • B.S., 1965, Lowell Technological Institute
    • M.S., 1968, University of Michigan
    • M.S., 1969, University of Michigan
    • Ph.D., 1972, University of Michigan

Memberships and associations:

  • Acoustical Society of America (Fellow)
  • American Association for Advancement of Science
  • Association for Research in Otolaryngology
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (Senior Member)
  • International Blood Barriers Society
  • Microcirculation Society of America
  • Sigma Xi
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • New York Academy of Science
  • American Physiological Society
  • The Prosper Meniere Society
  • Oregon Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery
  • SPIE – The Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers

Areas of interest

  • Hearing function and hearing loss
  • Cochlear physiology

Honors and awards

  • 1968 Eta Kappa Nu (Electrical Engineering Honor Society)
  • 1967 – 1970 NIH Bioengineering Traineeship
  • 1970 – 1972 Research Assistantship, University of Michigan Medical School
  • 1994 Claude Pepper Award of the NIH-National Institute for Deafness and other Communicative Disorders
  • 2000 Alumni Society Merit Award for the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan
  • 2004 Oregon Business Association Award
  • 2013 Jack Vernon Endowed Professorship in Hearing Research, Oregon Health & Science University


Selected publications

  • Ramamoorthy, S., Zhang, Y., Petrie, T., Fridberger, A., Ren, T., Wang, R.-K., Jacques, S. and Nuttall, A.L. (2016) Minimally invasive surgical method to detect sound processing in the cochlear apex by optical coherence tomography. J Biomed Opt 21(2), 025003. doi:10.1117/1.JBO.21.2.025003 PMC4796094
  • Wu, T., Ramamoorthy, S., Wilson, T., Chen, F., Porsov, E., Subhash, H., Foster, S., Zhang, Y., Omelchenko, I., Bateschell, M., Wang, L., Brigande, J., Jiang, Z.-G. and Nuttall, A.L. (2016) Optogenetic control of mouse outer hair cells. Biophys J 110(2):493-502. PMC4724629
  • Yang, Y., Chen, F., Karasawa, T., Ma, K.-T., Guan, B.-C., Shi, X.-R., Li, H., Steyger, P., Nuttall, A.L. and Jiang, Z.-G. (2015). Diverse Kir expression contributes to distinct bimodal distribution of resting potentials and vasotone responses of arterioles.PLoS ONE, 10(5), e0125266. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0125266. PMC4418701
  • Wilson, T., Omelchenko, I., Foster, S. Zhang, Y., Shi, Xiaorui and Nuttall, A.L. JAK2/STAT3 inhibition attenuates noise-induce hearing loss. PLoS One (2014) 9(10):1-10. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108276. PMC4183445
  • Le Floc'h, J., Tan, W., Telang, R.S., Vlajkovic, S.M., Nuttall, A.L., Rooney, W.D., Pontre, B. and Thorne, P.R. Markers of cochlear inflammation using MRI. J Magn Reson Imaging (2014) 39(1):150-61. PMC3935384
  • Ramamoorthy, S., Zha, D., Chen, F., Jacques, S.L., Wang, R., Choudhury, N., Nuttall, A.L. and Fridberger, A. Filtering of acoustic signals within the hearing organ. J Neurosci (2014) 34(27):9051-58. PMC4078082
  • Shi, X., Zhang, F., Urdang, Z., Dai, M., Neng, L., Zhang, J., Chen, S., Ramamoorthy, S. and Nuttall, A.L. Thin and open vessel-windows for intra-vital fluorescence microscopy imaging of the murine cochlear lateral wall. Hear Res (2014) 313:38-46. PMC4176943
  • Ren, T., Zheng, J., He, W. and Nuttall, A.L. Measurement of amplitude and delay of stimulus frequency otoacoustic emissions. J Otol (2013) 8(1):57-63. PMC4097125
  • Ramamoorthy, S. Wilson, T., Wu, T. and Nuttall, A.L. Non-uniform distribution of outer hair cell transmembrane potential induced by extracellular electrical field. Biophys J (2013) 105(12):2666-75. PMC3882456
  • Reif, R., Zhi, Z., Dziennis, S., Nuttall, A.L. and Wang, R.K. Changes in cochlear blood flow in mice due to loud sound exposure measured with Doppler optical microangiography and laser Doppler flowmetry. Quant Imaging Med Surg (2013) 3(5):235-42. PMC3834207


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