Selena Heman-Ackah, MD, MBA

2014 DICP Faculty Fellowship Recipient

SELENA HEMAN-ACKAH, MD, MBA, Associate Professor at Georgetown University Medical Center

Mentor: Gwenaelle Geleoc, PhD, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School; Department of Otolaryngology, F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center, Boston Children's Hospital

Department Chair: Elliot L. Chaikof, MD, PhD, Johnson and Johnson Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School; Chairman, Roberta and Stephen R. Weiner Department of Surgery, Surgeon-In-Chief, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Project Title: "Investigating the Role of Neurotrophin-3 in Acquired Hearing Loss"

Project Description:

Age-related hearing loss (ARHL) and noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) are the two most common causes of acquired sensorineural hearing loss in the adult population. They share an underlying mechanism of oxidative injury. Currently there are no approved treatments for the prevention of ARHL or NIHL. The mainstay of therapy is palliative (i.e. hearing aids or cochlear implants with profound losses). Neurotrophic factors are proteins which function in cellular differentiation, neuronal survival, migration, and synapse physiology. The neurotrophic factors brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin 3 (NT3) have been demonstrated to play a critical role in inner ear development and have demonstrated some promise in the prevention of NIHL. Few studies have been performed evaluating the impact of neurotrophic factors on the progression of ARHL. The goal of this study is to investigate the role of the NT3 in ARHL and NIHL utilizing a cell-specific inducible knockout and overexpression mouse model. To evaluate the impact of NT3 expression on hearing with aging and noise exposure, relative changes in hearing thresholds across groups will be assess by auditory brainstem response testing and distortion product otoacoustic emissions testing. Changes in synaptic physiology, cochlear morphology, BDNF expression and NT3 expression will be assessed. It is hypothesized that overexpression of NT3 will be correlated with a decreased susceptibility to ARHL and NIHL. It is further hypothesized that overexpression of NT3 will be associated with decreased synaptic losses with aging and noise exposure and correlate positively with BDNF expression in the cochlea.


Dr. Selena E. (Heman-Ackah) Briggs, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS, Associate Professor at Georgetown University Medical Center, is the former medical director of Otology, Neurotology and Audiology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and former clinical instructor in the Department of Otology and Laryngology at Harvard Medical School.  She performed her undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania, medical school and masters of business administration at the University of Cincinnati, otolaryngology residency at the University of Minnesota and fellowship in neurotology at New York University. In addition to the treatment of skull base tumors (e.g. vestibular schwannoma), she has a particular interest in the treatment of acquired hearing loss.  Since joining Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in July of 2012, Dr. Selena Heman-Ackah founded the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Cochlear Implant Program with focus on cochlear implantation in the adult population with acquired hearing loss.

Similarly, her research interests are centered around finding preventive therapies for forms of acquired hearing loss. Dr. Selena Heman-Ackah was recently awarded the Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership Faculty Fellowship to pursue research endeavors focus on understanding the pathophysiology of noise induced hearing loss and age-related hearing loss. She aspires through research to ultimately assist in the development of therapies to assist patients in the prevention and treatment of noise induced or age related hearing loss.