Drug Delivery

Development of novel biomedical engineering systems for drug delivery to the inner ear.

Our Team

"To solve biomedical problems faced by the deaf, hearing impaired, and those suffering from speech production and perception deficits."

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Neuro Engineering Research Group

Directed by Dr. Robert Frisina at the University of South Florida

Our research team engages in neuroengineering, focusing on the function and disorders of the auditory system. A key research and development area for Neuroengineers that study hearing loss and deafness, is the formulation of treatment strategies for preventing or curing hearing loss and deafness. Multidisciplinary approaches involve understanding which sensory cells of the inner ear – cochlea, and parts of the brain used for hearing are missing or damaged, as well as determining the neurochemical, genetic and protein expression changes that take place in cases of permanent hearing loss. As these areas become better understood, new drugs, gene therapy vectors and stem cell transplantation biotherapeutic strategies will unfold. One microsystems challenge for Neuroengineers interested in contributing to these translational research and development initiatives is the formulation of drug delivery systems to the cochlea.

Our Research

To be a global leader in characterization, prevention, and therapeutics of hearing impairments and disorders through integrated multi-disciplinary engineering and biomedical research.

Drug Delivery

Current investigations involve research and development on micropump development and testing for delivering drugs to the cochlea at nanoliter infusion rates, to foster inner ear drug delivery options and novel techniques.


We utilize different mouse strains to study the cellular and molecular changes, including gene and protein expression modifications, underlying acquired hearing loss; including age-linked hearing loss and noise-induced hearing impairment.


Generally hormones decline with age. We are studying interactions between modulation of hormone levels and the prevention or progression of age-related hearing loss. Major lines of our research indicate that estrogen+progesterone hormone therapy (HRT) can be detrimental to hearing in older females, while estrogen can be beneficial. Whereas aldosterone HRT can help prevent or reduce certain key aspects of age-related auditory deficits.

Neural Mechanisms of Age-related Hearing Loss

One of our major auditory research focal efforts has been at uncovering the molecular and neural mechanisms of ARHL, under the auspices of an NIH Program Project grant that we have had since 1991, upon which I am the PI. Over 150 publications have resulted where we have discovered age-related declines in auditory system processing circuitry mediating age-linked sound temporal processing deficits.

Medical Co-Morbidities and Auditory Aging

The influences of medical conditions on sensory processing remains controversial and an under-studied area of basic and clinical enquiry. For example, as more and more cancer treatments are successful, sensory deficits resulting from the chemotherapy and radiation dosages become very important issues for cancer survivorship. I am fortunate to be the lead auditory investigator working with one of the top groups in the world on testicular cancer survivorship under the auspices of a large NIH grant.

Meet Dr. Frisina

Robert D. Frisina received his Ph.D. in Bioengineering and Neuroscience from Syracuse University's College of Engineering in 1983.