Dr. Kindt received a B.S. degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California-San Diego, where she studied the function and development of mechanosensory circuits in Caenorhabditis elegans in the laboratory of William Schafer. During a postdoctoral fellowship with Teresa Nicolson at the Vollum institute she used a combination of scanning electron microscopy in vivo calcium imaging to investigate the role of the primary cilium in developing hair cells. Dr. Kindt joined the NIH as an investigator in 2013. Her laboratory uses molecular and microscopy-based methods to examine sensory cell function and development in the zebrafish model system.


  • Ph.D.
    University of California, San Diego
  • B.S.
    University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire

Sensory hair cells are specialized mechanoreceptors that are required to reliably transmit auditory and vestibular information to the brain. In humans, hair cell death is responsible for permanent hearing loss and vestibular dysfunction, as our hair cells do not regenerate. To develop effective clinical treatments to restore hearing and balance in humans, we must learn how to replace or regenerate hair cells and integrate them into the downstream circuitry. Prior to hair cell regeneration, it is critical to first understand how hair cells function and how they are formed in vivoTherefore, the mission of group is to investigate the function and in vivo assembly of the hair cell system. In mammals, the auditory and vestibular organs are encased in the dense petrous bone, making it impossible to study how these sensory organs form or function in their native environment. Therefore, our research utilizes zebrafish, which contain sensory hair cells within their lateral lines that can easily be studied in vivo. Furthermore, in zebrafish, hair cells regenerate, allowing us to gather insight into how to stimulate regeneration in a native sensory system. Zebrafish is a relevant model to examine hair cell systems, as numerous studies have shown that the same core genes are required for hearing and balance in humans, mice, and zebrafish. Our work uses this relevant, genetically tractable model by combining powerful functional and time-lapse imaging, electrophysiology, and behavioral analyses to comprehensively dissect the molecular and functional requirements underlying the assembly and function of hair cell systems in vivo.

The questions we currently ask include: 1) how do collections of sensory cells, synapses and neurons coordinate to encode sensory information; 2) how does sensory activity impact circuit assembly, function and health; and 3) what molecules are required to set up sensory function and synapse specificity?

Research Methods
Calcium Imaging
In vivo confocal and light-sheet microscopy
Molecular biology
Research Interests
Hair cells
Hearing and Balance

Current Students

Former Students

Dr. Katie Kindt
NIH, 35A Convent Drive 1D 933, Bethesda, MD 20910
Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
katie.kindt [at] nih.gov