Joseph C. Holt, Ph.D.

Joseph C. Holt, Ph.D.

Contact Information

University of Rochester Medical Center
School of Medicine and Dentistry
601 Elmwood Ave, Box 629
Rochester, NY 14642

Office: (585) 273-3064
Lab: (585) 276-2703

Lab Information

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Professional Bio


University of North Carolina at Pembroke BS 1986-1991 Biology, Chemistry
University of Louisiana at Monroe 1991-1994 Biology
Tulane University School of Medicine Ph.D. 1994-1999 Pharmacology
University of Chicago 2000-2005 Postdoctoral Training


1991 – 1994 Graduate Assistant; Dept. of Biology, University of Louisiana at Monroe
1996 – 1999 Lab Instructor / Lecturer; Dept. of Pharmacology, Tulane University School of Medicine
2000 – 2005 Postdoctoral Fellow (2000-2003), Research Associate (2004), Instructor (2005); Advisor: Jay M. Goldberg, Ph.D. Department of Neurobiology, Pharmacology, and Physiology, University of Chicago
2005 – 2008 Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology, University of Texas Medical Branch
2008 – Pres. Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology, University of Rochester


1989 James F. Ebert Award, University of North Carolina at Pembroke
1989-1990 J.P. Stevens Scholarship, University of North Carolina at Pembroke
1986-1991 Chancellor's Scholar Program, University of North Carolina at Pembroke
1997-1999 Pharmaceutical and Research Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Advanced Predoctoral Fellowship

Research Bio


Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Synaptic Transmission in the Vestibular Periphery.

Many sensory systems are endowed with efferent feedback mechanisms that can modulate their primary input to the brain. That is, incoming information from a peripheral detector is delivered to a way station within the CNS which then modifies the output from that same detector. Everyday examples include the pupillary reflex to bright light entering the eyes, the contraction of middle ear muscles to loud sounds, or the recruitment of additional muscle fibers when first lifting a heavy object. Here, the function of the efferent loop is presumably to optimize or "tune" each sensory modality to its stimulus. Sensory information regarding the position and movement of the head are encoded by the vestibular system, which begins as a number of small detectors located within the inner ear. Like the preceding examples, the peripheral vestibular system is also endowed with a prominent efferent innervation. The functional role of this feedback system, however, is relatively unknown. We do know that when these efferent pathways are electrically stimulated, afferent output from vestibular endorgans is profoundly inhibited or excited, suggesting that vestibular efferents may be involved in both negative and positive feedback. If such efferent activity occurs under physiological conditions, it is almost certain to modify and transform vestibular information traveling to the CNS. Yet, very little information is available as to how and when these efferent actions ultimately impact the processing of vestibular information in an alert animal. Taking a reductionistic approach, my lab is addressing the function of the vestibular efferent system from three vantage points: (1) Identifying the receptor mechanisms by which different efferent responses are generated during activation of their pathways; (2) Characterizing how these efferent receptor mechanisms modulate afferent response properties by pairing afferent recordings during vestibular stimulation with activation of efferent pathways; and (3) Identification of efferent discharge patterns with direct, in vivo recordings from vestibular efferent neurons. Such knowledge is critical in evaluating efferent function in behaving animal models, one of our long term goals.


Sensory pharmacology with an emphasis on efferent and afferent neurotransmission in the vestibular periphery
Cholinergic mechanisms and systems
Glutamatergic mechanisms and systems


Holt JC, Chatlani S, Lysakowski A, Goldberg JM. Quantal and Non-quantal Transmission in Calyx-Bearing Fibers of the Turtle Posterior Crista. J Neurophysiol. 98:1083-101, 2007.

Holt JC, Lysakowski A, Goldberg JM. Mechanisms of efferent-mediated responses in the turtle posterior crista. J Neurosci. 26:13180-93, 2006.

Holt JC, Xue JT, Brichta AM, Goldberg JM. Transmission between type II hair cells and bouton afferents in the turtle posterior crista. J Neurophysiol. 95: 428-452, 2006.

Holt JC, Lioudyno M, Guth PS. A pharmacologically distinct nicotinic ACh receptor is found in a subset of frog semicircular canal hair cells. J Neurophysiol. 90: 1526-36, 2003.

Lioudyno MI, Verbitsky M, Glowatzki E, Holt JC, Boulter J, Zadina JE, Elgoyhen AB, Guth PS. The alpha9/alpha10-containing nicotinic ACh receptor is directly modulated by opioid peptides, endomorphin-1, and dynorphin B, proposed efferent cotransmitters in the inner ear. Mol Cell Neurosci. 20: 695-711, 2002.

Holt JC, Lioudyno M, Athas GB, Garcia MM, Perin P, Guth PS. The effects of proteolytic enzymes on the alpha9-nicotinic receptor-mediated response in isolated frog vestibular hair cells. Hear Res. 152: 25-42, 2001.

Awards & Honors (Local)

Advanced Predoctoral Fellowship | Pharmaceutical and Research Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) 1997 - 1999
James F. Ebert Award | University of North Carolina at Pembroke 1989
J.P. Stevens Scholarship | University of North Carolina at Pembroke 1989 - 1990
Chancellor's Scholar Program | University of North Carolina at Pembroke 1986 - 1991

Recent Journal Articles

Showing the 5 most recent journal articles. 17 available »

2016 Jul
Dickerson IM, Bussey-Gaborski R, Holt JC, Jordan PM, Luebke AE. "Maturation of suprathreshold auditory nerve activity involves cochlear CGRP-receptor complex formation." Physiological reports. 2016 Jul; 4(14)
2015 Jun 1
Jordan PM, Fettis M, Holt JC. "Efferent innervation of turtle semicircular canal cristae: comparisons with bird and mouse." The Journal of comparative neurology. 2015 Jun 1; 523(8):1258-80. Epub 2015 Mar 25.
2015 Feb 25
Holt JC, Kewin K, Jordan PM, Cameron P, Klapczynski M, McIntosh JM, Crooks PA, Dwoskin LP, Lysakowski A. "Pharmacologically distinct nicotinic acetylcholine receptors drive efferent-mediated excitation in calyx-bearing vestibular afferents." The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2015 Feb 25; 35(8):3625-43.
2014 Jul 30
Luebke AE, Holt JC, Jordan PM, Wong YS, Caldwell JS, Cullen KE. "Loss of ?-calcitonin gene-related peptide (?CGRP) reduces the efficacy of the Vestibulo-ocular Reflex (VOR)." The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2014 Jul 30; 34(31):10453-8.
Jordan PM, Parks XX, Contini D, Holt JC. "A review of synaptic mechanisms of vestibular efferent signaling in turtles: extrapolation to efferent actions in mammals." Journal of vestibular research : equilibrium & orientation. 2013 23(3):161-75.

Current Appointments

Associate Professor - Department of Otolaryngology (SMD) - Primary
Associate Professor - Department of Neuroscience (SMD)
Associate Professor - Department of Pharmacology and Physiology (SMD)


PhD | Pharmacology and Toxicology | Tulane University Sch Medicine1999
BS | Biology | Pembroke State Univ1991
MS | Biology | Northeast Louisiana UniversityAttended 1991 - 1994