Ph.D. Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, School of Medicine, University of California - Los Angeles, 1983.

M.S. Department of Physiology, School of Medicine,
University of Southern California,1978.

B.S. Honors, in Biology and Chemistry,
University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, 1976.


Chief, Section on Sensory Cell Regeneration and Development – National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, NIH, Rockville, MD (2009 - present)

Principal Investigator – National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, NIH, Rockville, MD (2007 - 2009).

Adjunct Professor - Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program, University of Maryland, College Park, MD (2001- present).

Principal Investigator, Tenure Track – National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, NIH, Rockville, MD, (2000 - 2007).

Senior Staff Scientist - National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, NIH, Rockville, MD, (1993 - 2000).

Research Fellow - Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, (1992 - 1993).

Postdoctoral Fellow - Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, (1987 - 1992).

Postgraduate Researcher - Mental Retardation Research Center, University of California, Los Angeles. CA (1984 - 1986).

Selected Publications:  

1.  Ohta, S., Ji, Y.R., Martin, D., and Wu, D.K. (2021) Emx2 regulates hair cell rearrangement but not positional identity within neuromasts. eLife

2.  Ono, K., Keller, J., Lopez Ramirez, O., Gonzales Garrido, A., Zobeiri, O.A., Chang, H.V., Vijayakumar, S., Ayiotis, A., Duester, G., Della Santina, C.C., Jones, S.M., Cullen, K. E., Eatock, R.A., and Wu, D.K. (2020) Retinoic acid degradation shapes zonal development of vestibular organs and sensitivity to transient linear accelerations. Nat Commun. 111(1):63 doi:10.1038/s41467-019-13710-4

3.  Ji, Y.R., Warrier, S., Jiang, T., Wu, D. K. and Kindt, K.S. (2018) Directional selectivity of afferent neurons in zebrafish neuromasts is regulated by Emx2 in presynaptic hair cells. eLife; DOI:

4.  Jiang, T., Kindt, K. and Wu, D. K. (2017) Transcription factor Emx2 controls stereociliary bundle orientation of sensory hair cells. eLife;6 doi:10.7554/eLife.23661.

5.  Bok, J., Zenczak, C., Hwang, C. H., and Wu, D. K. (2013) Auditory ganglion source of Sonic hedgehog regulates timing of cell cycle exit and differentiation of mammalian cochlear hair cells. PNAS, 110(34): 13869-13874. Recommended by Faculty 1000.

6.  Evsen, L., Sugahara, S., Uchikawa, M., Kondoh, H., and Wu, D. K. (2013) Progression of neurogenesis in the inner ear requires inhibition of Sox2 transcription by Neurogenin1 and Neurod1. J. Neurosci. 33(9): 3879-3890.

7.  Bok, J., Raft, S., Kong, K., Koo, S.K., Dräger, U.C., Wu, D.K. (2011) Transient retinoic acid signaling confers anterior-posterior polarity to the inner ear. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 108:161-166. Recommended by Faculty 1000.

8.  Koo, S.K., Hill, J.K., Hwang C.H., Lin, Z.S., Millen, K.J., Wu, D.K. (2009) Lmx1a maintains proper neurogenic, sensory, and non-sensory domains in the mammalian inner ear. Dev Biol, 333:14-25.

9.  Chang, W., Lin, Z., Kulessa, H., Hebert, J., Hogan, B.L.M., and Wu, D. K. (2008) Bmp4 is essential for the formation of the vestibular apparatus that detects angular head movements. PLoS Genetics, 4:e1000050.

10.  Lin, Z., Cantos, R., Patente, M. and Wu, D. K. (2005) Gbx2 is required for the morphogenesis of the mouse inner ear: a downstream candidate of hindbrain signaling. Development, 132:2309-2318.

11.  Bok, J., Bronner-Fraser, M., and Wu, D. K. (2005) Role of the hindbrain in dorsoventral but not anteroposterior axial specification of the inner ear. Development,132:2115-2124.

The vertebrate inner ear is a structurally complex sensory organ responsible for detecting sound and maintaining balance. The goal of the laboratory is to decipher the molecular pathways underlying the intricate formation of the inner ear during development since any malformation of this organ during embryogenesis is likely to affect function. We use mouse, chicken and zebrafish as our animal models. Over the years, we have demonstrated that the primary axes of this organ are established by factors emanating from tissues surrounding the ear primordium such as Sonic hedgehog and retinoic acid. Once the primary axes are established in the ear primordium, these axes continue to pre-stage or mediate subsequent cellular differentiation and morphogenesis that give rise to the mature organ. For example, we recently found that a regionally expressed transcription factor, Emx2, reverses hair bundle orientation of all the sensory hair cells within its expression domain. This hair bundle reversal changes the directional sensitivity of its hair cell and functional dynamics of the sensory organ.  Currently, our major research questions are: 1) what are the downstream effectors of Emx2 that mediate hair bundle reversal, 2) how sensory inputs from hair cells with opposite hair bundle orientation in the vestibular organs are being integrated in the brain.

Research Methods
Transgenic Mice
In Situ Hybridization
Gene Profiling
Research Interests
Inner Ear
Axial Specification
Gene Regulation
Planar Cell Polarity
Dr. Doris Wu
NIH, Porter Neuroscience Research Center, 35A Convent Drive, Room 1D824, Bethesda, MD 20892-3729
Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
wud [at]