Paul Fuchs, Ph.D.

Paul Albert Fuchs, Ph.D.

Headshot of Paul Fuchs
  • David M. Rubenstein Research Professor of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery
  • Professor of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Research Interests

Cochlear hair cell; Cochlear neurons; Afferent transmission; Efferent transmission; Pathogenesis of hearing loss, hyperacusis more


Paul Fuchs, Ph.D., is the David M. Rubenstein Research Professor of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, with secondary appointments in Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience. He is co-director of the Center for Sensory Biology in the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at Hopkins. 

He received a Ph.D. in Neuro- and Bio-behavioral Sciences from Stanford University in 1979 for studies of presynaptic inhibition at the crayfish neuromuscular junction.  After postdoctoral training with John Nicholls at Stanford, Fuchs joined Robert Fettiplace at Cambridge University to begin his focus on synaptic physiology of the inner ear.  In 1984 he was appointed Assistant Professor of Physiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and in 1995 was recruited to the Johns Hopkins Center for Hearing and Balance. 

His research centers on the cellular electrophysiology of the inner ear with particular attention paid to excitability and synaptic transmission between sensory hair cells, afferent and efferent neurons. These efforts have: 1.) discovered the molecular mechanisms by which acetylcholine release from efferent neurons inhibits hair cells, 2.) detailed the diversity of synaptic ribbon function among cochlear hair cells, 3.) catalogued the roles of gated ion channels in hair cells and 4.) provided the first evidence for the function of type II cochlear afferents.  At Johns Hopkins Dr. Fuchs oversees research programs in Otolaryngology, and is director of the T32 training grant to the Center for Hearing and Balance. His laboratory has trained more than 30 doctoral and postdoctoral students. He teaches regularly in the graduate, medical and undergraduate curriculum, serving as co-director of “Structure and Function of the Auditory and Vestibular Periphery” with Elisabeth Glowatzki, and directing “Cellular and Molecular Biology of Sensation” with Stewart Hendry, as well as lecturing in the Neuroscience and Medical school curricula. He lectures regularly in the U.S. and abroad, and directs the semi-annual Biology of the Inner Ear course at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. more


  • David M. Rubenstein Research Professor of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery
  • Co-Director, the Center for Sensory Biology
  • Professor of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
  • Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Professor of Neuroscience

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes

  • Hearing and Balance, Center for
  • Sensory Biology, Center for



  • B.A.; Reed College (Oregon) (1974)
  • Ph.D.; Stanford University (California) (1979)

Additional Training

  • Stanford University, Stanford, California, 1981, Synaptic Physiology; Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK, 1983, Inner Ear Physiology

Research & Publications

Research Summary

The Fuchs laboratory uses cellular electrophysiology, immunolabeling and electron microscopy to study synaptic connections between sensory hair cells and neurons in the cochlea.  One effort focuses on an unusual cholinergic receptor that mediates efferent inhibition of hair cells, driving discovery of the molecular mechanisms, and offering a target for protection against acoustic trauma.  A second topic concerns the small number of unmyelinated ‘type II’ afferent neurons whose synaptic connectivity and response properties argue for a role as the pathway for noxious (too loud) sound.   Our studies are motivated by curiosity about fundamental mechanisms, and to provide a foundation for understanding cochlear pathogenesis.

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Fuchs, P.A., T. Nagai and M.G. Evans (1988).  Electrical tuning in hair cells isolated from the chick cochlea.  Journal of Neuroscience 8:2460-2467.

Fuchs, P.A. and B.W. Murrow (1992a). Cholinergic inhibition of short (outer) hair cells of the chick's cochlea.  Journal of Neuroscience. 12(3):800-809. 

Fuchs, P.A. and B.W. Murrow (1992b). A novel cholinergic receptor mediates inhibition of chick cochlear hair cells. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London, B 248:35-40.  

Martinez-Dunst, C., R. Michaels and P.A. Fuchs (1997). Release sites and calcium channels in hair cells of the chick's cochlea. Journal of Neuroscience 17:9133-9144.

Ramanathan, K., T. Michael, G-J. Jiang, H. Hiel and P.A. Fuchs (1999). A molecular mechanism for the electrical tuning of cochlear hair cells.  Science. 283:215-217. 

Glowatzki E and PA Fuchs (2000). Cholinergic synaptic inhibition of inner hair cells in the neonatal mammalian cochlea.  Science 288:2366-2368.

Lustig LL, Peng H, Hiel H, Yamamoto T and PA Fuchs (2001). Molecular cloning and mapping of the human nicotinic acetylcholine receptor α10 (CHRNA 10).  Genomics 73(3):272-83. 

Glowatzki E and PA Fuchs (2002) Transmitter release at the hair cell ribbon synapse.  Nature Neuroscience 5(2):147-154.  

Katz E, Glowatzki E, Vetter D, Knipper, ME, Gomez-Casati ME, Elgoyhen AB, Fuchs P (2004). Developmental regulation of nicotinic synapses on cochlear inner hair cells.  Journal of Neuroscience 24(36):7814-20. 

Juan Diego Goutman, Paul Albert Fuchs and Elisabeth Glowatzki (2005). Facilitating efferent inhibition of inner hair cells in the cochlea of the neonatal rat.  Journal of Physiology 566: 49-59. PMCID: 1464729.

Philemon S. Yang, Badr A. Alseikhan, Hakim Hiel, Lisa Grant, Masayuki X. Mori, Wanjun Yang, Paul A. Fuchs, and David T. Yue (2006). Switching of Ca2+-Dependent Inactivation of CaV1.3 Channels by Calcium Binding Proteins of Auditory Hair Cells.  Journal of Neuroscience 26:10677 – 10689.

Seunghwan Lee, Olga Briklin, Hakim Hiel and Paul A. Fuchs (2007). Calcium-dependent inactivation of calcium channels in cochlear hair cells of the chicken.  Journal of Physiology 583 (3):909-922. PMCID: 2277178

Grant, L and Fuchs PA (2008).  Calcium, calmodulin-dependent inactivation of calcium channels in inner hair cells of the rat cochlea.  Journal of Neurophysiology 99(5):2183-93.

Jee-Hyun Kong, John P. Adelman and Paul A. Fuchs. (2008). Expression of the SK2 calcium-activated potassium channel is required for cholinergic function in cochlear hair cells.  Journal of Physiology. 586:5471-85. PMCID: PMC2655383.

Taranda J, Maison SF, Ballestero JA, Katz E, Savino J, Vetter DE, Boulter J, Liberman MC, Fuchs PA, Elgoyhen  AB (2009).  A point mutation in the hair cell nicotinic cholinergic receptor prolongs cochlear inhibition and enhances noise protection.  PLoS Biol. 2009 Jan 20;7(1):e18. PMCID: 2628405

Weisz C., E. Glowatzki and P.A. Fuchs (2009). The postsynaptic function of type II cochlear afferents.  Nature 461:1027-1162.  PMID: 19847265; PMCID: PMC2785502.  Cited in Faculty of 1000: Andy Groves: Faculty of 1000 Biology, 13 Nov 2009

Wersinger E, J. McLean, P.A. Fuchs and S. J. Pyott  (2010) BK channels mediate cholinergic inhibition of high frequency cochlear hair cells.  PLoS One. 5(11):e13836. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2973960. 

Jimena Ballestero, Javier Zorrilla de San Martín, Juan Goutman, Ana Belén Elgoyhen, Paul A. Fuchs and Eleonora Katz (2011). Short term synaptic plasticity regulates the level of olivocochlear inhibition to auditory hair cells.  Journal of Neuroscience 31(41):14763-74.

Isabelle Roux, Eric Wersinger, J. Michael McIntosh, Paul Fuchs, and Elisabeth Glowatzki (2011). Onset of cholinergic efferent synaptic function in sensory hair cells of the rat cochlea.  Journal of Neuroscience 31(42):15092-101. PMCID: PMC3213862.

Marcela Lipovsek, Gi Jung Im, Lucía F. Franchini, Francisco Pisciottano, Eleonora Katz, Paul A. Fuchs, A. Belén Elgoyhen. 2012. Phylogenetic Differences in Calcium Permeability of the α9α10 Cholinergic Nicotinic Receptor.  PNAS.  109(11):4308-13. PMCID: PMC3306713

Amanda M. Lauer, Paul Fuchs, David K. Ryugo, Howard W. Francis. Efferent synapses return to aged inner hair cells. 2012 Neurobiology of Aging, 33(12):2892-902.  PMCID:PMC3398161

Weisz CJ, Lehar M, Hiel H, Glowatzki E, Fuchs PA. Synaptic transfer from outer hair cells to type II afferent fibers in the rat cochlea. J Neurosci. 2012 Jul11;32(28):9528-36. PubMed PMID: 22787038; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3433252.

Kong JH, Zachary S, Rohmann KN, Fuchs PA. Retrograde Facilitation of Efferent  Synapses on Cochlear Hair Cells. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2012 Nov 27. [Epubahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23183877.

Fuchs PA, Lehar M, Hiel H. Ultrastructure of cisternal synapses on outer hair cells of the mouse cochlea. J Comp Neurol. 2014 522(3):717-29.  PubMed PMID: 24122766.

Weisz JC, Glowatzki E, Fuchs PA. (2014). Excitability of type II cochlear afferents.  Journal of Neuroscience 34(6):2365-73. PubMed PMID: 24501375; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3913877

Contact for Research Inquiries

Ross Research Building
720 Rutland Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21205 map
Phone: 410-955-6311
Fax: 443-287-4334

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Biomedical Engineering, Neuroscience

Activities & Honors


  • Honorary Member, Argentine Society for Neuroscience, 2012
  • March of Dimes, Basil O’Connor Research Award, 1986
  • Wellcome Foundation Research Fellowship, Cambridge, 1983
  • Plenary Lecture, Chinese Society for Neuroscience, 2007
  • the John E. Bordley Professorship in Otolaryngology/ Head and Neck Surgery, Johns Hopkins, 2004
  • Visiting Scientist, Kyoto, 1993
  • Grass Foundation Fellowship, Marine Biological Laboratory, 1977
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Institute of Health, 1980
  • Predoctoral Fellowship, National Science Foundation, 1975
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, NATO, 1981
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Reed College, 1974
  • Guest Professor, Southeast University Medical School, 2007
  • Medical School Teaching Award, U. Colorado, 1987
  • Medical School Teaching Award, U. Colorado, 1992
  • Medical School Teaching Award, U. Colorado, 1993
  • Medical School Teaching Award, U. Colorado, 1995
  • Kaiser Permanente Teaching Award, U. Colorado Medical School., 1995
  • The A.R. Martin Lecturer, U. Colorado., 2006
  • National Needs, National Science Foundation , 1979
  • Research Career Development Award, NIH, 1985
  • Research Award, National Organization for Hearing Research., 1992
  • Traveling Scientist Award, Grass Foundation , 1997


  • Association for Research in Otolaryngology, 1988
  • Biophysical Society, 1987
  • Society for Neuroscience, 1979
  • The Physiological Society of Great Britain, 1990 - 2012
    Foreign Member
  • The Society of General Physiologists, 1999

Professional Activities

  • Ad hoc, National Institute for Neurological Disease and Stroke, NIH, 2014
  • Ad hoc reviewer, National Science Foundation's Sensory Physiology, 1987 - 1994
  • Ad hoc reviewer, NIH Hearing Research Study Section, 1987 - 1994
  • Ad hoc reviewer, National Institute for Deafness and Communication Disorders, 1992
  • Ad hoc reviewer, NIH Hearing Research Study Section, 2000
  • Advisor, Fondation Voir et Entendre, 2008
  • Board of Scientific Counselors, National Institute for Deafness and Communication Disorders, 2003 - 2008
  • Chair, National Institute for Deafness and Communication Disorders, 2006 - 2008

Videos & Media

Lectures and Presentations

  • Visiting Professor, Sendai, Japan (03/01/1993)
    Tohoku University Department of Physiology
  • Kyoto, Japan (01/01/1993)
    Kyoto University Department of Physiology
  • "Cochlear Efferent Path Structure and Function"
    Acoustical Society of America Symposium, Cambridge, MA (01/01/1994)
  • Member International Advisory Committee., Inner Ear Neuropharmacology First International   Symposium, Montpellier, France (01/01/1994)
  • Neuronal Nicotinic Receptors Philippe Laudat Conference, Strasbourg, France (01/01/1994)
  • Program in Neuronal Growth and Development, Ft. Collins, CO (01/01/1995)
    Colorado State University
  • Las Cruces, NM (05/01/1995)
    New Mexico State University - Department of Biology
  • (01/01/1996)
    University of Michigan -
  • Bethesda, MD (01/01/1996)
  • Portland, Oregon (01/01/1996)
    RS Dow Neurological Institute
  • Ithaca, NY (01/01/1997)
    Cornell University - Neurobiology and Behavior
  • (01/01/1997)
    Duke University - Neurobiology Department
  • (01/01/1997)
    University of Maryland College Park - Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Biophysics of Auditory Function Symposium, Florida (01/01/1998)
    Association for Research in Otolaryngology Annual Meeting
  •  “Molecular Sensory Physiology”
    Guenzburg, Germany (01/01/1999)
  • “Diverse Intracellular Signaling Pathways”
     The George Raiziss Biochemical Rounds, Philadelphia, PA (01/01/1999)
    University of Pennsylvania
  • (01/01/1999)
    University of Maryland - Program in Human Genetics
  • Mass. Eye and Ear
    Boston, MA (01/01/1999)
    Eaton-Peabody Laboratory
  • Charleston, SC (01/01/2000)
    Medical College of Carolina
  • University College, London (01/01/2000)
  • Tennessee (01/01/2001)
    University of Tennessee - Physiology and Neurobiology
  • Rocky Mountain Regional Neuroscience Meeting
    Plenary Lecture, Denver, Colorado (01/01/2001)
  • Auckland, New Zealand (01/01/2001)
    International Union of Physiological Sciences
  • (01/01/2001)
    Rutgers University
  • (01/01/2002)
    University of Chicago
  • Iowa City, (01/01/2002)
    University of Iowa
  • Champaign-Urbana, (01/01/2002)
    University of Illinois
  • (01/01/2002)
    American Society of Human Genetics Annual Meeting
  • Birmingham, AL (01/01/2003)
    University of Alabama
  • New Orleans, (01/01/2003)
    LSU Medical
  • Seattle, (01/01/2003)
    University of Washington
  • Davis, (01/01/2004)
    University of California
  • Argentina, (01/01/2004)
    University of Buenos Aires
  • (01/01/2004)
    National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
  • Philadelphia, PA. (01/01/2005)
    Keynote add Eastern Auditory Research Symposium
  • Houston Integrative Biology and Pharmacology
  • Biomedical Sciences
    Creighton University
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina (01/01/2005)
    School of the Neurosciences
  • University of Colorado
    The A.R. Martin Lecture
  • Portland, Oregon (01/01/2006)
    The Vollum Institute
  • Chinese Society for Neuroscience
    Hangzhou, China (01/01/2007)
    H.X. Chang Plenary Lecture
  • Nanjing, China (01/01/2007)
    Southeast Medical University
  • Seoul, Korea (01/01/2007)
    Hanyang University Department of Otolaryngology
  • Paris, France (01/01/2008)
    College de France
  • Boston, MA. (01/01/2008)
    Eaton-Peabody 50th Anniversary Lecture
  • the Ribbon Synapse Symposium
    Platform lecture, Goettingen, Germany (01/01/2009)
  • Kyoto, Japan (01/01/2009)
    International Union of Physiological Sciences
  • “Rare Diseases of Hearing and Vision”
    Sant Feliu de Guixols, Spain (01/01/2009)
    European Science Foundation
  • Capital Science Evenings
    Plenary Lecture, Washington, DC (01/01/2009)
    The Carnegie Institute of Washington DC
  • the Tinnitus Research Initiative
    Plenary Lecture, Dallas, TX (01/01/2010)
  • Symposium speaker, Cordoba, Argentina (01/01/2010)
    Society for Neuroscience
  • Symposium speaker, Scottsdale, AZ (01/01/2011)
    American Auditory Society
  • University of Goettingen
    Goettingen, Germany (01/01/2011)
    Sensory Physiology Series
  • University College London
    London, UK (01/01/2011)
    The Ear Institute
  • (01/01/2012)
    University of Maryland
  • Goettingen, Germany (01/01/2013)
    The Ribbon Symposium
    Montpellier, France (01/01/2013)
    The Neuroscience Institute
  • Goettingen, Germany (01/01/2013)
    Fundamental Principles of Sensory Processing
  • Society for Neuroscience
    Symposium lecture, San Diego, CA (01/01/2013)
  • Pasteur Institute, Paris, France (01/01/2014)
  • Clermont-Ferrand, France (01/01/2014)
    Regional Auditory Neuroscience
  • Congrès des Audioprothesistes
    Plenary Lecture, Paris, France (01/01/2014)
  • St. Louis, (01/01/2014)
    Midwest Auditory Research and Neuroscience Meeting
  • (01/01/2014)
    National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
  • University of Michigan
    The Kresge Institute for Hearing Science
  • Inner Ear Biology International Conference
    Platform address, Kyoto, Japan (01/01/2014)

Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

Augmenting the Ear's Natural Defenses Johns Hopkins University & Medicine (11/25/2019)

Better Connections, Worse Hearing? (4/2016)

When Soft Noises Feel LIke a Knife to the Eardrums Stat News (2/18/2016)

Nerve Cells Warn Brain of Damage to the Inner Ear

Found: A Likely New Contributor to Age-Related Hearing Loss

That Ringing in Your Ears? Don't Assume it will Fade Away, Washington Post (07/14/2015)

NPR – “Talk of the Nation/Science Friday”: “Hearing Loss Pill”

NPR – “Talk of the Nation/Science Friday": “Ear-splitting Sounds”

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