Alfred L. Nuttall, Ph.D., Director

Alfred L Nuttall, PhD

Phone: 503 494-8032
Lab phones:
503 494-2930 (HRC 0435)
 503 494-2993 (HRC 0429)
503 494-2937 (HRC 3rd Floor Bay "B")           
Office: HRC 0410A-B

, Ph.D. is the director of the Oregon Hearing Research Center at OHSU, where he is a Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the Vice Chairman for Research and the first Jack Vernon Endowed Professor in Hearing Research. Dr. Nuttall joined OHSU in 1996. Additionally, he is a Professor Emeritus of Otolaryngology at the University of Michigan.


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.

Previous appointments:

  • Professor, Associate Professor and Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Michigan


  • B.S. degree in electrical engineering, Lowell Technological Institute (now the University of Massachusetts at Lowell)
  • M.S. degrees in bioengineering and electrical engineering, University of Michigan
  • Ph.D. degree in bioengineering, University of Michigan
  • Postdoctoral work at the Kresge Hearing Research Institute, University of Michigan

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.

In the news:

Additional information is available on his lab page. To access his publications, please click here to go to PubMed.

Selected publications

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 pdf

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 pdf

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 pdf

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 pdf

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 pdf

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 pdf

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 pdf

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 pdf

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 pdf

Han, W.J., Shi, X. and Nuttall, A.L. Noise-induced nitrotyrosine increase and outer hair cell death in the guinea pig cochlea. Chin Med J (2013), 126(15):2923-2927.PMC3947561 pdf

Subhash, M.S., Choudhury, N., Chen, F., Wang, R.-K., Jacques, S. and Nuttall, A.L. Depth-resolved absolute vibrometry based on Fourier domain low coherence interferometry. J Biomed Opt (2013) 18(3):036003. doi:10.1117/1.JBO.18.3.036003 PMC3584824 pdf

Reif, R., Qin, J., Dziennis, S., Zhi, Z., Nuttall, A.L. and Wang, R.K. Monitoring hypoxia induced changes in cochlear blood flow and hemoglobin concentration using a combined dual-wavelength laser speckle contrast imaging and Doppler optical microangiography system. PLoS One (2012) 7(12):e52041. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052041 PMC3525546 pdf

Dziennis, S., Reif, R., Zhi, Z., Nuttall, A.L. and Wang, R.K. Effects of hypoxia on cochlear blood flow in mice evaluated using Doppler optical microangiography. J Biomed Opt (2012) 17(10):106003. doi:10.1117/1.JBO.17.10.106003. PMC3461130 pdf

Ramamoorthy, S. and Nuttall, A.L. Half-octave shift in mammalian hearing is an epiphenomenon of the cochlear amplifier. PLoS One (2012) 7(9):e45640. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045640 PMC3458085 pdf

Nuttall, A.L. and Fridberger, A. Instrumentation for studies in cochlear mechanics: From von Békésy forward. Hear Res (2012) 293(1-2):3-11. PMC3483786 pdf

Subhash, M.S., Nguyen-Huynh, A., Wang, R.K., Jacques, S.L. and Nuttall, A.L. Feasibility of spectral-domain phase-sensitive optical coherence tomography for middle ear vibrometry. J Biomed Opt (2012) 17(6):060505. doi:10.1117/1.JBO.17.6.060505 PMC3381045 pdf

Zha, D., Chen, F., Ramamoorthy, S., Fridberger, A., Choudhury, N., Jacques, S.L., Wang, R.K., and Nuttall, A.L. In vivo outer hair cell length changes expose the active process in the cochlea. PLoS One (2012) 7(4):e32757. PMC3322117

He, W., Porsov, E., Kemp, D., Nuttall, A.L., Ren, T. The group delay and suppression pattern of the cochlear microphonic potential recorded at the round window. PloS One (2012) 7(3):e34356. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034356  PMC3314608 pdf

Ramamoorthy, S. and Nuttall, A.L. Outer hair cell somatic electromotility in vivo and power transfer to the organ of Corti. Biophys J (2012) 102:388-398. PMC3274794 pdf

See more of Dr. Nuttall's publications at PubMed.