Lab Members

Principal Investigators

The Holt / Géléoc Lab operates with a non-conventional model.  We have one lab run by two principle investigators, Jeffrey R. Holt and Gwenaelle, S.  Géléoc.  The arrangement works well as maintenance of a single lab helps to minimize expenses, while having two PIs facilitates scientific output.   Furthermore, while one PI is busy writing grants or manuscripts, the other can be in the lab doing experiments or working with lab members.  

Jeffrey R. Holt, Ph.D. Professor

I earned my doctorate from the Department of Physiology at the University of Rochester in 1995.  For my thesis work I studied inward rectifier potassium currents in saccular hair cells in Ruth Anne Eatock's lab.  I went on to a post-doctoral position with David Corey in the Neurobiology Department at Harvard Medical School, where I characterized transduction and adaptation in vestibular hair cells; developed an adenoviral vector system to transfect cultured hair cells, and along with collaborators identified Myosin Ic as a component of the hair cell adaptation motor in vestibular cells.  My first faculty position was at the University of Virginia.  In July, 2011 the lab moved to Boston Children’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School. I am currently a Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology and Neurology in the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center where I am involved with graduate and medical student teaching; I am a member of the Harvard Medical School, Program in Neuroscience and the Harvard/MIT Program in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology.  As one of two principle investigators for the lab, I write grants and manuscripts for publication, supervise and mentor lab members and make time to work on my own research project.  I am currently working on several projects:  1) I am investigating the function of ion channels genes in hair cells using viral vectors to deliver wild-type and mutant channel genes and 2) I am interested in identifying the genes and proteins required for hair cell mechanosensory transduction. 3) Discovery of viral vectors to restore cellular and systems level function in models of human deafness.

Hobbies:  Working late, sailing, playing with my kids, kite surfing, red wine, soccer.

Gwenaelle S. Géléoc, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

I was born in France and moved to the United States in Fall of 1999.  My passion for inner ear research began as an undergraduate student at the University of Montpellier (France) when I first saw a sensory hair cell under the microscope!  During my graduate and post-graduate studies, I was fortunate to train with some wonderful scientists including Corne Kros (Sussex University, UK), Guy Richardson (Sussex University, UK), Jonathan Ashmore (UCL, UK) and David Corey (HHMI, Harvard Medical School, USA). During my graduate work I developed a preparation which allowed me to record the first mechanotransduction currents from vestibular hair cells of the mammalian inner ear (Géléoc et al. 1996, 1997).  I realized that there was much to be learned by analyzing the pattern of functional developmental of inner ear hair cells around the time of birth. An obvious prerequisite for understanding vestibular and auditory disorders is knowledge of how hair cells develop in the normal state. Hair cells of the inner ear have the critical role of converting sound and head movement information into electrical signals which are transmitted to the brain.  Precisely how and when hair cells acquire mechanosensitivity is a major focus of my ongoing research. As an Assistant Professor at Boston Children’s Hospital I am also interested in the functional disruptions that are caused by mutations in hair cell genes, particularly those that cause congenital auditory and vestibular disorders in humans.  Armed with a better understanding of hair cell function and dysfunction, I aim to identify methods to protect or restore function in the sensory cells of the inner ear.                                   


Hobbies: Doing art work, cooking (and eating), sailing, hiking and skiing.

Olga Shubina-Oleinik, Ph.D. Post-Doctoral Fellow

I was born and grew up in Belarus. In 2011, I graduated from the International Sakharov Environmental University with a Bachelor's Degree in Biomedical Science. I received my Ph.D. degree at the Institute of Genetics and Cytology NAS of Belarus in 2015.  My Ph.D. project was dedicated to studying the genetics of non-syndromic hearing loss caused by both nuclear and mitochondrial mutations. I’ve also participated in developing a complex program of audiological and genetic testing of sensorineural hearing loss in children.
During this work I realized how complicated deafness can be, and how important it is to find treatment for hearing loss and improve people's lives.  In the spring of 2016, I had  the great opportunity to join the Holt/Géléoc Lab and continue my specialization in the field of hearing problems with a focus on developing  approaches to treat hearing impairment by gene therapy.
Hobbies: reading, dancing, yoga, writing sketches and traveling.

Jason Wu, Ph.D. Post-Doctoral Fellow

I grew up in Louisiana and Alabama, and I studied at Rice University where I received a Bachelors in Architecture in 2009 and a professional degree in 2011. I later switched paths to neuroscience, and I received my PhD from Duke University in Neurobiology in 2017. My doctorate work focused on the biophysical mechanisms for inactivation in the mechanically activated ion channels, Piezo1 and 2. Through this work, I became fascinated with the structural and mechanical complexities of biomolecular complexes and how these leads to fine-tuned biological processes in the body. The mechanotransduction mechanisms of the inner ear are one of the most intricate mechano-biological systems studied, so this drove me to join the Holt/Géléoc group in 2018 to research how the  ion channels and molecules of mechanosensation in the inner ear function to transduce mechanical force into electrical signals. A clear understanding of the transduction molecules in hair cells will hopefully guide stronger approaches to gene therapy and hearing loss restoration.


Hobbies: rowing, music, drawing, painting, woodworking

Xiaohan Wang, Ph.D. Post-Doctoral Fellow

I was born and grew up in China. I earned my medical degree at Xinxiang Medical University in 2007, then my strong interest in neurophysiology drove me to join the neuroscience Ph.D. program in Fudan University to study the effects of endocannabinoids on the activities of retinal ganglion cells and discovered a new way the endocannabinoid system works in the nervous system. I received my Ph.D. degree from the Institute of Neurobiology at Fudan University in 2013 and started my postdoctoral training with Prof. Henrique von Gersdorff at Vollum Institute, Oregon Health & Science University to learn membrane capacitance recording and study the exocytosis of AII amacrine cells in the rat retina. A year and a half later, I moved to Oregon Hearing Research center to work on the vascular system in the cochlear lateral wall and the pathology of acoustic trauma. In June 2018, I joined Holt/Geleoc lab to continue my research in the hearing field, I am working on the project to rescue genetic hearing impairment and restore hearing function in mice.

Hobbies: hiking, traveling, reading, music, drawing, philosophy, Chinese calligraphy

Irina Marcovich, Ph.D. Post-Doctoral Fellow

I was born and raised in Argentina. I got my Biology degree in 2014 at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and did my Ph.D. in the Laboratory of Physiology and Genetics of Hearing, led by Dr. Belen Elgoyhen (INGEBI-CONICET). My project aim was to study the evolutionary history of nicotinic cholinergic receptor subunits, particularly of the α9 and α10 nicotinic subunits which are expressed in the hair cells of the vertebrate inner ears. I became fascinated by the variety of mechanisms displayed by living organisms which allowed them to expand their hearing range, fine tune and amplify sound stimuli. I joined the Holt/Geleoc lab during the summer of 2019 to study evolution of mechanotransduction in the inner ear.


Hobbies: acting, singing, yoga, music and travel.​

Stephanie Mauriac, Ph.D. Post-Doctoral Fellow

I grew up in Bordeaux, France. In 2015, I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Bordeaux in cellular biology and physiopathology. My interest for the inner ear began when I join the lab of Dr. Mireille Montcouquiol and Dr. Nathalie Sans in Bordeaux as a PhD student.  During my PhD, I studied a very rare pathology, called the Chudley McCullough Syndrome, characterized by early onset sensorineural deafness and brain anomalies. During this project, I learned different technics including biochemistry, Immunocytochemistry, surgery and dissection that permit us to clarify the etiology and identify a new molecular basis of this pathology. During this exciting project, I realized how this work is essential to find a treatment for these patients in order to improve their lives. After receiving my PhD degree in June, 2019, I had the great opportunity to join the lab of Dr. Jeffrey Holt and Dr. Gwenaelle Geleoc in October 2019 to continue in hearing research. My goal is to discover and develop approaches to restore auditory function by gene therapy in models of human deafness.


Hobbies : traveling, cooking, sewing, reading, music, movies

Wang Zheng, Ph.D. Post-Doctoral Fellow

I was born and grew up in the central part of China and graduated from Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) with a B.A. in Biotechnology in 2008. Then I went to Wuhan University for a master’s degree in Microbiology, during which I developed a strong interest in ion channel proteins. In 2011, I moved to Canada and joined Dr. Xing-Zhen Chen's lab at University of Alberta to study gating mechanisms of polycystin ion channels, which were mutated in human autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. After receiving my PhD degree in 2017, I continued to pursue my interests in ion channels by joining Slav Bagriantsev's lab at Yale University where I studied inactivation mechanisms of mechanosensitive Piezo ion channels and how their inactivation processes are regulated by temperature. My research interests then drove me to join the Holt/Geleoc group in 2019 to explore mechano-electrical transduction (MET) apparatus in the inner ear. My goal is to figure out how the MET channels convert mechanical force into electrical signals, which would establish a foundation to develop therapeutic treatment for hearing loss.


Hobby: Skiing, fishing, hiking, traveling, music, reading


Hobbies: acting, singing, yoga, music and travel.​

Hannah Goldberg, Graduate Student

I was born and raised in Connecticut and graduated with my B.A. from Wellesley College in 2013 with a major in neuroscience. My interest in hearing research began when I entered the lab of Dr. Barbara Shinn-Cunningham as a research assistant in the Center for Computational Neuroscience and Neural Technology at Boston University.  My work sought to disentangle the neural mechanisms underlying human auditory spatial processing using techniques such as electro- and magnetoencephalography.  From there, I entered Harvard University for my doctoral studies in the Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology Program in 2015.  I previously worked with Dr. Daniel Kohane in the Laboratory for Biomaterials and Drug Delivery at Boston Children’s Hospital focusing on the optimization of a single-application hydrogel drug delivery system to noninvasively treat Otitis Media.  My concentration in translational science has brought me to the Holt/Géléoc Lab to explore the effectiveness of gene therapy as an approach to restore auditory functioning in models of human deafness.

Hobbies: skiing, hiking, running, cooking, playing with dogs

John Lee, Graduate Student

I was born in Illinois and graduated from Northwestern University in 2012 with a B.A. in Genetics & Molecular Biology and a minor in Communication Sciences & Disorders. Having grown up with cochlear dysplasia and complete deafness in my right ear, I developed a passion for inner ear research at a young age and earned my Au.D. (Doctorate of Audiology) from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 2016. As an Au.D. student, I had the opportunity to serve a diverse group of patients with hearing/vestibular loss and develop several clinical research projects. I entered the Speech and Hearing Biosciences & Technology Ph.D. Program at Harvard University in 2016 to compliment my clinical experiences with a more molecular understanding of the inner ear. My translational interests have brought me to the Holt/Géléoc lab, where I hope to study the physiology of vestibular hair cells and vestibular end organs.


Hobbies: basketball, hip hop dancing, eating, kayaking, hiking

Amy Patterson, Lab Manager

I grew up in a small town in NJ and went on to receive a B.S. in Neuroscience from Bucknell University (Bison is the new national animal!). Where I truly feel at home is on Martha’s Vineyard, making Boston my obvious first choice post-graduation (also a leading city for scientific progress, which made my decision even easier). I was hired in the Holt/Geleoc Lab in 2016 as a lab manager/research tech, providing me experience in genetics as well as organization of mouse colonies and other behind the scenes lab work. Partially what drew me to this lab is its work on Usher Syndrome, a leading cause of deaf-blindness in the US, as well as the groundbreaking gene therapy work. Through some incredible opportunities in lab and at BCH, I have found a passion for advocacy (rare disease, genetics, public health) and will start a part-time public health degree at BU. With these dual interests and my experience in a genetics lab, my 5-year goals involve working toward a degree in Genetic Counseling to work both clinically and as an advocate.

Hobbies: sailing, hiking/backpacking, all things related to food (running to allow me to eat more food), music

Carl Nist-Lund, Research Assistant

In 2015, I received my undergraduate Chemistry degree from Princeton University with a minor in Materials Science and Engineering. While my thesis work was in the development of magnesium-ion battery systems, since joining the Holt/Geleoc Lab in the summer of 2016, I have switched my research interests to various mechanochemical aspects of the gene therapies studied in this lab. Currently I am involved in performing and analyzing auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) to evaluate behavioral level hearing ability, as well as data analysis to evaluate hair cell electrophysiology data. I am also involved in the dissection and imaging of older stage inner ear tissue for immunocytochemical protein localization and expression. Outside of lab, I am involved in outreach activities with patients at Boston Children’s Hospital to help maintain academic contact during treatment. Although I was born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida, I am loving my time here in the Boston area!


Hobbies: Running, coffee, reading, baking treats for the lab

Nicole Russell, Research Assistant

I was born and raised right outside of Boston. I graduated from Clemson University in 2019 with a B.S. in human nutrition and minors in biology and chemistry. While my undergraduate research was on the use of stem cell therapies and oncology, I took an interest in the Holt- Geleoc Lab for the work being done in gene therapies. I was hired in the Holt- Geleoc Lab in 2019 as a Research Assistant, providing me with experience in genetics, animals used in research, and various lab techniques.


Hobbies: Anything outdoors, reading, cooking, traveling, and hanging out with my dog (pictures available upon request). ​

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 2018 by Holt/Géléoc Lab