Lavinia Sheets, PhD

Lavinia Sheets, PhD

Assistant Professor
Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery

Mailing address

660 S. Euclid Ave.
CB 8115
St. Louis, MO  63110

Research interests

Hair cells are the sensory receptors of sound, motion, and spatial orientation. Exposure to excessively loud noise or certain drugs can permanently damage hair cells and their connections to nerve fibers. My lab investigates the cellular mechanisms of noise-induced and chemical hair-cell damage using zebrafish as a model for human hearing and deafness.

Our research interests are: 1. To define the cellular pathways that bring about hair-cell synapse loss and hair cell death following damaging noise exposures; 2. To determine what biological pathways promote nerve regeneration and hair-cell reinnervation with the goal of providing information toward clinical regenerative therapies; and 3. To identify novel protectants against cisplatin-induced neurotoxicity with the goal of protecting auditory nerve fibers from damage during cisplatin-based chemotherapy.


  • Ph.D. (Neuroscience), Oregon Health & Science University, 2007
  • Special Topics Course, Analytical and Quantitative Light Microscopy, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
  • B.S. Biology (Music minor), Pacific University, 1996


  • Amelia Peabody Fellowship, 2013-15
  • Student Poster, 3rd Place, 4th European Zebrafish Genetics and Development Meeting, 2005
  • Student Talks, 2nd Place, 21st Annual Student Research Forum, OHSU, 2004
    Tartar Trust Fellowship, 2003


  1. Enlargement of Ribbons in Zebrafish Hair Cells Increases Calcium Currents But Disrupts Afferent Spontaneous Activity and Timing of Stimulus Onset. Sheets L, He XJ, Olt J, Schreck M, Petralia RS, Wang YX, Zhang Q, Beirl A, Nicolson T, Marcotti W, Trapani JG, Kindt KS. Journal of Neuroscience. 2017 June 28, 37 (26) 6299-6313; DOI:
  2. Ca2+-Permeable AMPARs Mediate Glutamatergic Transmission and Excitotoxic Damage at the Hair Cell Ribbon Synapse. Sebe JY, Cho S, Sheets L, Rutherford MA, von Gersdorff H, Raible DW. Journal of Neuroscience. 2017 Jun 21;37(25):6162-6175. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3644-16.2017.
  3. Excessive activation of ionotropic glutamate receptors induces apoptotic hair-cell death independent of afferent and efferent innervation. Sheets L. Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 23. 7:41102. doi: 10.1038/srep41102.
  4. Synaptic ribbons require ribeye for electron density, proper synaptic localization, and recruitment of calcium channels. Lv C, Stewart WJ, Akanyeti O, Frederick C, Zhu J, Santos-Sacchi J, Sheets L, Liao JC, Zenisek D. Cell Rep. 2016 Jun 21. 15(12):2784–95. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.05.045.
  5. Characterization of Ribeye subunits in zebrafish hair cells reveals that exogenous Ribeye B-domain and CtBP1 localize to the basal ends of synaptic ribbons. Sheets L, Hagen MW, Nicolson T. PLoS One. 2014 Sep 10. 9(9):e107256. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107256.
  6. Presynaptic CaV1.3 channels regulate synaptic ribbon size and are required for synaptic maintenance in sensory hair cells. Sheets L, Kindt KS, Nicolson T. Journal of Neuroscience. 2012 Nov 28. 32(48):17211–17224.
  7. Ribeye is required for presynaptic CaV1.3a channel localization and afferent innervation of sensory hair cells. Sheets L, Trapani JG, Mo W, Obholzer N, Nicolson T. Development. 2011 Apr. 138(7):1309–19.