Su-Hua Sha is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. She received her undergraduate degree from Tongji Medical School in Wuhan, China, and an MD degree from the University of Essen Medical School in Germany. Her research training began in biochemistry and molecular biology at the Kresge Hearing Research Institute in the University of Michigan in 1994, first as a post-doctoral research fellow under the supervision of Dr. Jochen Schacht and then as a junior faculty member. In 2010, she established her own laboratory at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Drawing from this background, her research interest lies in the mechanisms underlying cochlear pathologies and in translating research findings into clinical therapies to prevent or ameliorate acquired hearing loss. Over the last twenty years, her research projects have been focused on molecular and cellular mechanisms of acquired hearing loss and its prevention. She has identified and characterized molecular pathways of acquired hearing loss, those involved with ototoxicity, noise trauma, and age-related hearing loss. While her research projects provide valuable insights into basic molecular events responsible for causing inner ear damage, she is also addressing translational questions with the goal of designing rational pharmacological or molecular/genetic therapeutic interventions to ameliorate acquired induced hearing loss.
On a broader scale, her lab has investigated the interactions of oxidative stress, autophagy, and cell death signaling pathways in both noise- and aminoglycoside-induced hearing loss. Her lab first demonstrated that autophagy is upregulated in sensory hair cells in CBA/J mice after noise exposure that induces temporary hearing loss. These results led to the novel concept that autophagy is an initial intrinsic cellular response that protects against inner ear damage by attenuating oxidative stress. Her lab also identified interactions between apoptotic and necrotic cell death pathways in noise-induced hair cell death, showing that inhibition of apoptotic cell death shifts hair cells to necrotic-like cell death. These results have proven to be very important for translational efforts of prevention. Currently, her research focuses on transient-cellular-energy depletion-induced changes in the activity of small GTPases in sensory hair cells and resultant actin cytoskeleton rearrangements after exposure to noise and ototoxic drugs. She is fortunate to be able to lead an excellent and productive research team of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. Her research is funded by an R01 grant from NIH/NIDCD.