Mark A.  Rutherford, PhD

Mark A. Rutherford, PhD

Associate Professor of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery

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

Research interests

Auditory and vestibular systems, sensory encoding, electrical and chemical signaling across membranes, synaptic physiology, spike generation, molecular anatomy, nano-scale microscopy, electrophysiology, Ca2+ and voltage imaging, protein function, computational modeling, cochlear implants, structure-function relationships, synaptic development, genetics of hearing and deafness, prevention of hearing loss, drug discovery, lead optimization.


  • 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


  • 2020 – Leadership Entrepreneurial Acceleration Program (LEAP) award, Washington University in St. Louis, MO
  • 2020 Keynote – Young Investigator Symposium, Association for Research in Otolaryngology Annual Conference, San Jose, CA
  • 2018 – Schacht Lectureship at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
  • 2017 – Knowles Lectureship at Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
  • 2017 Keynote Speaker at 3rd Chinese Assoc. for Res. in Otolaryngology conference in Nanjing, China
  • 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. Hu, N., Rutherford, M.A. and Green, S.H. Protection of cochlear synapses from noise-induced excitotoxic trauma by blockade of Ca2+-permeable AMPA receptors. PNAS 117 (7): 3828 (2020). PMID: 32015128.
  2. Lingle, C.J., Martinez-Espinosa, P.L., Yang-Hood, A., Boero, L., Payne, S., Persic D., V-Gharffari, B., Xiao, M., Zhou, Y., Xia, X.M., Pyott, S.J., Rutherford, M.A. LRRC52 regulates BK channel function and localization in mouse cochlear inner hair cells. PNAS 116 (37): 18397 (2019). PMID: 31451634.
  3. Lars Becker, Michael E. Schnee, Mamiko Niwa, Willy Sun, Stephan Maxeiner, Sara Talaei, Bechara Kachar, Mark A. Rutherford, Anthony J. Ricci. The presynaptic ribbon maintains vesicle populations at the hair cell afferent fiber synapse. eLife, 7, e30241 (2018). PMID: 29328021
  4. Sebe, J.Y., Cho, S., Sheets, L., Rutherford, M.A., von Gersdorff, H., and Raible, D.W.  Ca2+-Permeable AMPARs Mediate Glutamatergic Transmission and Excitotoxic Damage at the Hair Cell Ribbon Synapse. J Neurosci  37.25 (2017): 6162-6175. PMID: 28539424
  5. Hirose, K., Rutherford, M.A., and Warchol, M.E. Two cell populations participate in clearance of damaged hair cells from the sensory epithelia of the inner ear. Hearing Research 352: 70 (2017). PMID: 28526177
  6. Ohn, T.L., Rutherford, M.A., Jing, Z., Jung, S., Duque-Afonso, C.J.,Hoch, G., Picher, M.M., Scharinger, A., Strenzke, N., and Moser, T.  Hair Cells Use Active Zones with Different Voltage Dependence of Ca2+ Influx to Decompose Sounds into Complementary Neural Codes. PNAS 113(32): E4716 (2016) PMID: 27462107
  7. Kim, K.X., Rutherford, M.A. Maturation of NaV and KV Channel Topographies in the Auditory Nerve Spike Initiator before and after Developmental Onset of Hearing Function. J Neurosci 36(7): 2111 (2016) PMID: 26888923
  8. Rutherford, M.A. Resolving the Structure of Inner Ear Ribbon Synapses with STED Microscopy. Synapse 69(5):242 (2015) PMID: 25682928 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) PMID: 24442635
  9. 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) PMID: 23467361
  10. 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) PMID: 23084290
  11. Rutherford, M.A., Pangršič, T.  Molecular Anatomy and Physiology of Exocytosis in Sensory Hair Cells. Cell Calcium 52(3-4):327 (2012) PMID: 22682011 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) PMID: 22492033
  12. 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) PMID: 2109286