Teresa Nicolson, Ph.D., Professor

Teresa Nicolson, Ph.D.


After receiving her B.S. in Biochemistry at Western Washington University,  received her Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry in 1995 from the University of California, Los Angeles studying organelle inheritance in budding yeast in William Wickner's laboratory. She then trained as a post-doctoral fellow in Christiane Nuesslein-Volhard's laboratory working with zebrafish auditory/vestibular mutants at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tuebingen, Germany. In 1999, Teresa became an independent Group Leader at the same institute. In 2003, she was appointed as an assistant professor to the Oregon Hearing Research Center with a joint appointment in the Vollum Institute (link to Dr. Nicolson's profile and lab at the Vollum). In 2014 she was promoted to professor.

Summary of current research

We study the molecular basis of hair-cell function with two major aims in mind: (i) identifying components that are critical for the development and function of mechanotransduction and synaptic transmission, and (ii) generating animal models of human deafness and vestibular dysfunction. The particular focus on mechanotransduction and synaptic transmission in auditory/vestibular hair cells is driven by our current understanding of these processes—both are not fully understood at the molecular level. Using forward genetics, our laboratory has identified more than a dozen genes in zebrafish that are required for hair-cell function. Zebrafish larvae are ideally suited for studies of auditory/vestibular function for the following reasons: (i) conserved function of deafness genes among vertebrates, (ii) optical clarity of the inner ear and physical accessibility of lateral-line hair cells, (iii) inexpensive genetic methods including CRISPR and high-efficiency transgenesis, (iv) non-invasive imaging and electrophysiology with hair cells in intact animals, and (v) behavioral analysis of phenotypes. By characterizing and pinpointing the nature of the defects in mutants, we hope to gain insight into the biology of deafness genes.

News & Events: Nicolson Lab

6/2018 Finished my service as a regular member of the AUD study section!

Nicolson - Aud study section

7/2017-Special issue on zebrafish in Journal of Neurogenetics  (see review on hair-cell function)!

2017 Article by Nicolson T in the J Neurogenetics special edition

6/2017- Congrats to Tim Erickson on his new position at East Carolina University!

3/22/2017 - OHRC/NGP graduate students March for Science!
Nicolson Lab march for science 3/22/2017

11/16-20/2016 - International Titisee Conference on mechanosensation in Schwarzwald, Germany
Titisee Conference in Schwarzwald, Germany

10/14-10/15/2016- Northwest Auditory and Vestibular Research Meeting in Portland
Portland Or

 9/12-13/2016 - Coming soon! Annual Neuroscience Graduate Program Retreat at Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood.NGP 2016 - Nicolson

7/12/16 - Going to the Allied Genetics Conference July 2016 in Orlando, Florida! 

Zebra Fish Genetics

5/2016 - Congrats to Reo Maeda. New position with Ricoh Company!

4/2016 - Congrats to former postdoc Katie Kindt for receiving the PECASE award!

Selected publications

Toro, C., Trapani, J., Pacentine, I., Maeda, R., Sheets, L., Mo, W., Nicolson, T. (2015) Dopamine modulates the activity of sensory hair cells. J Neurosci, 35(50): 16494-16503. [Featured Article] pdf

Erickson, T. and Nicolson, T. (2015) Identification of sensory hair-cell transcripts by thiouracil-tagging in zebrafish. BMC Genomics, 16:842. pdf

Maeda, R., Kindt, K. S., Mo, M., Morgan, C. P., Erickson, T., Zhao, H., Clemens-Grisham, R., Barr-Gillespie, P.G., and Nicolson, T. (2014) Tip-link protein protocadherin 15 interacts with transmembrane channel-like proteins TMC1 and TMC2. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 111 (35): 12907-12912. pdf

Kindt, K., Finch, G., Nicolson, T. (2012) Kinocilia mediate mechanosensitivity in developing zebrafish hair cells. Dev Cell, 23: 329-341. [Cover photo and highlighted by Faculty of 1000] pdf

See more of Dr. Nicolson's publications at PubMed and Research Gate.