LabTV: Curious About Genetics of Deafness
Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins
What do Miami, music, and genetic research have in common? They are all central to the life of Joseph Foster, the young researcher who’s in the spotlight for our next installment of LabTV.
Foster, a research associate in Mustafa Tekin’s lab at the University of Miami’s Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, is involved in the hunt for the remaining genes responsible for congenital forms of deafness.This area of research is a good fit for Foster. Not only does he have a keen interest in genetic diseases (a close family member was born with cystic fibrosis), he’s a musician with a deep appreciation of the gift of hearing—loving to play the saxophone in his free time.
Since joining the Tekin lab more than two years ago, Foster says he’s learned a lot about the biology of the ear. He’s also gained a better understanding of the challenges faced by the many people who are born deaf or hearing impaired; in the United States alone, about 2 to 3 of every 1,000 children are born with detectable hearing loss . Foster and his colleagues have helped to find several novel genes involved in deafness, discoveries that he’s enjoyed sharing with both the scientific and patient communities, and that may ultimately lead to new insights about how to help children born with hearing deficits. In fact, this Colorado native says he measures success by “how what I’ve done is benefiting other people.”
Like other young researchers whom we’ve met through LabTV, Foster emphasizes that good science requires strong teamwork. Saying “you’re not operating in a vacuum,” he collaborates with scientists from many other disciplines to exchange the skills and insights needed to keep his research moving forward for the benefit of all.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Identifying infants with hearing loss—United States, 1999-2007. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2010 Mar 5;59(8): 220-223.
Mustafa Tekin (University of Miami)
Science Careers (National Institute of General Medical Sciences/NIH)
Careers Blog (Office of Intramural Training/NIH)
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