Mark A. Rutherford, PhD

Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology

Rutherford Lab Website

Mailing Address:

Washington University School of Medicine
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
660 S. Euclid Ave.-Campus Box 8115
St. Louis, MO 63110

Electrical and chemical signaling across membranes, neural temporal code, spike generation, molecular anatomy of synapses, membrane excitability disorders, auditory and vestibular systems, synaptic electrophysiology, sensory hair cells, spiral ganglion neurons, ribbon synapses, ion channel organization and function, nano-scale microscopy, Ca2+ and voltage imaging, mutational analysis, computational modeling, cochlear implants, structure-function relationships, synaptic development and heterogeneity, genetics of hearing and deafness, optogenetics, mitochondria, network and synaptic plasticity, efferent neuromodulation of sensory processing, prevention of hearing loss.


  • 2009-2012 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Göttingen
  • 2005-2009 Postdoctoral Training, University of Oregon
  • 2000-2005 Ph.D., Biology, University of Oregon
  • 1995-1999 B.S., Nutritional Sciences, University of Missouri


  • 2009-2012 Research Fellow, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Postdoctoral Grant
  • 2002 Scholarship, Neural Systems and Behavior, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
  • 2001 Development Training Grant, Pre-synaptic Mechanisms, Inst. of Neurosci., University of Oregon
  • 1999 Graduation with Honors, University of Missouri
  • 1995-1999 National Merit Scholar, University of Missouri

Selected Publications

  1. Rutherford, M.A. Resolving the Structure of Inner Ear Ribbon Synapses with STED Microscopy. Synapse, 69(5):242 (2015) PMID: 25682928.

  2. Rutherford, M.A., Moser, T. “The Ribbon Synapse Between Type I Spiral Ganglion Neurons and Inner Hair Cells.” In: Springer Handbook of Auditory Research, Volume 52: The Primary Auditory Neurons of the Mammalian Cochlea. Springer-Verlag New York Eds. Dabdoub, A., Fritzsch, B., Popper, A.N., Fay, R.R. (2016) DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4939-3031-9. Wong, A.B., Rutherford, M.A., Gabrielaitis, M., Pangršič, T., Göttfert, F., Frank, T., Michanski, F., Hell, S., Wolf, F., Wichman, C., Moser, T. Developmental Refinement of Hair Cell Synapses Tightens the Coupling of Ca2+ Influx to Exocytosis. EMBO J 33(3):247 (2014).

  3. Wong, A.B., Jing, Z., Rutherford, M.A., Frank, T., Strenzke, N., Moser, T. Concurrent Maturation of Inner Hair Cell Synaptic Ca2+ Influx and Auditory Nerve Spontaneous Activity around Hearing Onset in Mice. J Neurosci 33(26):10661 (2013).

  4. Jing, Z., Rutherford, M.A., Takago, H., Frank, T., Fejtova, A., Khimich, D., Moser, T., Strenzke, N. Disruption of the Presynaptic Cytomatrix Protein Bassoon Degrades Ribbon Anchorage, Multi-quantal Release, and Sound Encoding at the Hair Cell Afferent Synapse. J Neurosci 33(10):4456 (2013).

  5. von Ameln, S., Wang, G., Boulouiz, R., Rutherford, M.A., Smith, G.M., Li, Y., Pogoda, H.M., Nürnberg, G., Volk, A.E., Stiller, B., Hong, J.S., Goodyear, R.J., Nürnberg, P., Richardson, G.P., Hammerschmidt, M., Moser, T., Wollnik, B., Koehler, C.M., Teitell, M.A., Barakat, A., Kubisch, C. A Mutation in PNPT1, Encoding Mitochondrial-RNA-Import Protein PNPase, Causes Hereditary Hearing Loss. The American Journal of Human Genetics 91(5):919 (2012).

  6. Rutherford, M.A., Pangršič, T. Molecular Anatomy and Physiology of Exocytosis in Sensory Hair Cells. Cell Calcium 52(3-4):327 (2012).

  7. Rutherford, M.A., Chapochnikov, N.M., Moser, T. Spike Encoding of Neurotransmitter Release Timing by Spiral Ganglion Neurons of the Cochlea. J Neurosci 32(14):4773 (2012).

  8. Frank T., Rutherford, M.A., Strenzke, N., Neef, A., Pangršič, T., Khimich, D., Fetjova, A., Gundelfinger, E.D., Liberman, M.C., Harke, B., Bryan, K.E., Lee, A., Egner, A., Riedel, D., Moser, T. Bassoon and the Synaptic Ribbon Organize Ca2+ Channels and Vesicles to Add Release Sites and Promote Refilling. Neuron 68(4):724 (2010).

  9. Rutherford, M.A., Roberts, W.M. Spikes and Membrane Potential Oscillations in Hair Cells Generate Periodic Afferent Activity in the Frog Sacculus. J Neurosci 29(32):10025 (2009).

  10. Roberts, W.M., Rutherford, M.A. Linear and Nonlinear Processing in Hair Cells. J Exp Bio 211:1775 (2008).

  11. Rutherford, M.A., Roberts, W.M. “Afferent Synaptic Mechanisms.” In: The Senses: A Comprehensive Reference, Volume: Audition. Elsevier (2007).

  12. Rutherford, M.A., Roberts, W.M. Frequency Selectivity of Synaptic Exocytosis in Frog Saccular Hair Cells. PNAS 103(8):2898 (2006).