After obtaining a First in Applied Biology – and following a brief stint as a scientific officer at the Institute of Cancer Research – Lisa graduated in 2007 with a PhD in the genetics of age-related hearing loss from University College London.
She then took up a post-doctoral position with Dr Sally Dawson in the newly built Ear Institute at UCL, to continue her investigations into genetic susceptibility to age-related hearing loss. Lisa became interested in the significance of gender differences and her research has discovered that genetic variation in the estrogen-related receptor gamma (ESRRG) gene is associated with susceptibility to age-related hearing loss in post-menopausal women.
Lisa wanted to broaden her scientific skill base, and in 2014 she completed her second post-doctoral position, with Professor Andrew Forge and Dr Ruth Taylor at the UCL Ear Institute. She focused on the preservation of residual hearing following cochlear implantation.
In 2015 we awarded Lisa a Pauline Ashley New Investigator Grant. This enables her to focus on understanding the molecular mechanism(s) by which the ESRRG gene functions in the cochlea to maintain hearing.
Five minutes with Lisa Nolan...
What does Action on Hearing Loss funding mean to you?
The Pauline Ashley award came at a crucial time in my research career: I was looking to take the next steps towards independence. Without the funding, I would not be able to drive forward my research exploring the role of the estrogen-related receptor gamma gene in protecting hearing.
Why do you work in hearing research?
I have been fascinated by the auditory system for as long as I can remember, not least because, when I was a child, I was diagnosed with a profound sensorineural hearing loss. My own hearing loss gives me a unique insight into the difficulties and daily challenges encountered by the many millions of people with hearing loss, whether congenital or age-related. It fires my passion to work in this field.
What do you want your research to achieve?
I hope my research will strengthen our understanding of whether the cochlea in pre-menopausal women is better adapted to cope with environmental stress, compared to post-menopausal women and men. Once we know for sure we could establish how the cochlea can be protected from age-related decline – and answer a fundamental question in hearing research: "Why is the onset of age-related hearing loss much later in women compared to men?"
Find out more about Dr Lisa Nolan's research project.