• Deafness Project

Deafness Project

Genetic factors and pathogenic mechanisms of deafness

Project Leader Yoshiaki Kikkawa

Project Leader
Yoshiaki Kikkawa

Yoshiaki Kikkawa has been leading the Deafness Project since 2020. Dr. Kikkawa completed his Ph.D. on animal genetics and evolution in 1998 from the Tokyo University of Agriculture. He then worked in mouse genetics and genomics under the supervision of Dr. Hiromichi Yonekawa at TMIMS where he identified key genes involved in several diseases by positional cloning. In particular, he focused on using mouse models to elucidate the molecular basis for genetic deafness, and identified Sans, one of the few genes identified to date that are associated with human deafness. Subsequently he conducted research on protein-protein interactions associated with deafness with Prof. Steve Brown at the MRC, Harwell, UK, where he discovered protein complexes associated with stereocilia elongation in hair cells in the inner ear.


Deafness and hearing loss are the most common sensory disorders in the human population severely affecting the quality of life. There has been considerable progress in identifying the single gene mutations primarily associated with congenital hearing loss. However, little is known about the genes and mutations associated with age-related and noise-induced hearing loss in humans, occurring due to the effects of environmental risk factors and several quantitative trait loci.

Our project aims to identify genes associated with acquired and noise-induced hearing loss using forward genetic analysis approach in mouse model. In addition, we also aim to establish novel mouse models to study pathogenic mechanisms and therapeutic approaches of deafness.


  • To identify genes associated with age-related and noise-induced hearing loss in humans and mice.
  • To develop new mouse and zebrafish models to elucidate molecular mechanisms involved in hearing and to develop plausible preventive and therapeutic measures for deafness.
  • To elucidate the pathogenic interactions between deafness and other diseases, such as dementia and diabetes.


Project Leader Yoshiaki Kikkawa

  • Shumpei Yasuda
  • Yuta Seki