The OTOSTEM consortium addresses differentiation, proliferation and biological activity/potency auditory sensory or neuronal cells in the cochlea by a unique consortium of leading academic laboratories in Europe and the USA as well as two European SMEs fully dedicated to the development of regenerative hearing loss therapies.

The consortium presents a systematic plan to overcome the prevailing roadblocks that impede the development of translational approaches toward novel human cell-based and drug-based treatments for hearing loss.

All academic members of the consortium have a proven track record in the area of inner ear regeneration and stem cell technology. The laboratories have complementary expertise with clear evidence of well-conceived, ongoing collaborations.

For the field of hearing loss, such an international collaboration is unprecedented and will clearly expedite the development of stem applications for the treatment for patients suffering from hearing loss and deafness.
Partner 1 - EKUT (Coordinator)
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, University of Tübingen Medical Centre, Department of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery and Institute of Anatomy
Prof. Dr. med. Hubert Löwenheim (Coordinator)
Priv.-Doz. Dr. phil. nat. Marcus Müller
Tübingen, Germany
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The Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen (EKUT) is one of Europe’s oldest universities. With more than 280 courses on offer in the Sciences and Humanities, through seven faculties, some 28,500 German and international students and some 450 professors and more than 4000 other academic teaching staff, UT is an international teaching and research center of excellence. The Löwenheim laboratory is located at the University of Tübingen Medical Centre, Department of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery.
Partner 2 - UNIBE
University of Bern
PD Dr. med. P. Senn
Prof. Dr. S. Leib
Bern, Switzerland
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The University of Bern (UNIBE) federates 8 faculties, some 160 institutes and 8 Graduate Schools. With 15'900 students, it is of mid-range size among Swiss universities. The Faculty of Medicine is engaged in research and teaching to promote and disseminate scientific knowledge in the field of healing and its foundations. UNIBE has a formal research collaboration with Inselspital (, which is one of the leading Swiss University Hospitals with about 7000 collaborators and more than 220,000 patients annually. Dr. Pascal Senn’s group is working at the Univ. Dept. of Otorhinolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery, Inselspital and is working in close collaboration with the research group of Prof. S. Leib of the laboratory for experimental neuroinfectiology at the Institute for Infectious Diseases at UNIBE.
Partner 3 - UoS
University of Sheffield
Dr. Marcelo N. Rivolta
Sheffield, United Kingdom
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The University of Sheffield (UoS) is a word top-100 University reowned for the excellence, impact and distinctivenss of its research-led learning and teaching. In addition UoS is among the top ten in Russell Group, the association of leading UK research-intensive universities. The Rivolta laboratory is part of the Centre for Stem Cell Biology (CSCB), Department of Biomedical Sciences at the UoS. CSCB is recognized internationally as a Centre of Excellence for research on pluripotent stem cells, being the first laboratory to undertake research on human embryonic stem cells in the UK in 1999.
Partner 4 - AMU
Aix-Marseille University
Prof. Azel Zine
Marseille, France
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With about 71,000 students, the Aix-Marseille University (AMU) is the largest French-speaking university. With its wide range of general and vocational courses including over 590 degree courses, AMU offers teaching in a wide variety of fields. Its 132 recognized research units and 21 faculties make it a centre of international excellence in social and natural sciences. The Zine group is part of the Laboratory of Integrative and Adaptative Neurosciences (LNIA) that includes two additional groups focusing on sensory integration, neuronal plasticity and auditory biology comprising cellular/molecular and physiological studies. The LNIA provides a unique setting at the national level and covers a broad spectrum of basic and translational research of the inner ear system.
Partner 5 - UU
Uppsala University
Prof. Rask Andersen
Uppsala, Sweden
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Uppsala University (UU) is the oldest university in Sweden, founded in 1477. The university has nine faculties distributed with about 24,000 full-time students. UU is a sought-after cooperative partner for universities all over the world and is a member of a number of university-wide international networks for research and education. UU is a world top-100 University with research strategies and strong research areas in Science and Technology, Medicine and Pharmacy, and Humanities and Social Sciences. The Uppsala inner ear research laboratory belongs to the ENT-Clinic in Uppsala University Hospital. It is a well-known research laboratory built-up by Nobel prize winner Robert Barany and Professor Hans Engström who first established morphologic works on inner ear using electron microscopy.
Partner 6 - Stanford
Stanford University
Prof. Stefan Heller
Stanford, United States
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Stanford University is one of the world's leading teaching and research universities. Since its opening in 1891, Stanford has been dedicated to finding solutions to big challenges and to preparing students for leadership in a complex world. Stanford OHNS (Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery) research laboratories are at the forefront of innovative bioscience and technology. The cardinal goal of Stanford OHNS is to conduct research on issues relevant to human disease with a special emphasis on the goal of curing deafness through regenerative means. The Heller laboratory is part of the Otolaryngology research division that includes five additional groups focusing on auditory biology comprising molecular studies, biophysics, genetics/genomics, systems biology, and translational research. The laboratory is member of the Molecular & Cellular Physiology as well as Regenerative Medicine programs and fully integrated into the Stanford biomedical graduate programs.
Partner 7 - MEEI
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
Dr. Albert Edge
Boston, United States
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Massachusetts Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, a world-renowned research center, and consistently ranks in the top five in the nation for both specialties in U.S.News & World Report’s annual hospital survey. Massachusetts Eye and Ear Center's mission is to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck. After uniting with Schepens Eye Research Institute in 2011, Mass. Eye and Ear became the world's largest vision and hearing research center. The Edge group is located at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and is a part of the Department of Otology and Laryngology of Harvard Medical School. The group is in the Eaton Peabody Laboratory, a hearing research centre with an integrated program covering auditory physiology, molecular biology of the auditory system, cochlear implants, and central processing.
Partner 8 - Audion
Audion Therapeutics BV
Dr. Helmuth van Es
Rolf Jan Rutten
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Audion Therapeutics is a private biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery, development and commercialization of drugs and delivery technologies for the treatment of diseases affecting the ear, including hearing loss. Audion is committed to discovering highly effective disease-intervention therapies through our world-leading research into inner ear cellular biology and physiology, and selected partnerships.
Partner 9 - Acousia
Acousia Therapeutics GmbH
Dr. Michael Bös
Tübingen, Germany
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Acousia Therapeutics GmbH is a privately held biotech company with the expertise to identify small molecules for treatment of hearing loss. Acousia will develop drugs for local application, which will restore hearing in patients who have lost their hearing ability due to various reasons, e.g. noise trauma, treatment with ototoxic drugs or sudden deafness. In addition, this therapy will have the potential to treat the age-related decrease in hearing capacity.
Partner 10 - SCIPROM
Dr. Kirsten Leufgen
Dr. Véronique Gobry
Filippo Gander
St-Sulpice, Switzerland
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Founded in 2005, SCIPROM is an SME specialised in the management of large collaborative research projects. SCIPROM supports scientific coordinators from the first project idea to the final report, in project set-up, submission, negotiation, and management.

The OTOSTEM project has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement No. 603029.