Dr. White received her bachelor's degree in Biology from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena in 1989. She completed her Ph.D. degree in Developmental Biology, also at Caltech, in 2000, where she researched neural stem cells. She began post-doctoral work in hearing regeneration at the House Ear Institute, and joined the faculty at the University of Rochester Medical and Dental Center in 2010.
Dr. White's goal is to find a biological treatment to reverse noise-induced hearing loss through a better understanding of the function of different genes in the cochlea.
I want to realize the promise of developmental biology for human medicine. If we can define, describe, and understand the molecular mechanisms that regulate cell division and differentiation, then in principle, we can manipulate cells and tissues to rebuild damaged or diseased organs.
We have begun this process for human deafness, which impacts one quarter of adults over the age of 65. For many of these individuals, decades of noise exposure results in the progressive loss of mechanosensory hair cells, which detect sound vibration in the cochlea. In mammals, lost hair cells are not replaced; consequently, damage accumulates as people age. Surprisingly, when we tested the developmental capacities of nearby cells to divide and create new sensory cells, we found a latent ability for regeneration. My work here at Rochester centers on identifying what molecules regulate inner ear regeneration in mammals. My goal is to find a biological treatment for noise-induced hearing loss.