Katherine Rennie, PhD
Associate Professor, Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Graduate School :
  • PhD, University of Bristol (1991)
  • University of Texas Medical Branch Hospitals Program, Neuroscience (1997)
Languages: English
Department: Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Recognition & Awards

  • James A. Shannon Director’s Award, NIDCD (2007)
  • Research Career Enhancement Award, American Physiological Society (2003)
  • Gordon Res. Conference Young Investigator Award, NASA-NSF (1996)
  • Dale and Rushton Fund Award, Physiological Society (1988)

Research Interests

This laboratory's research is focused on hair cells of the vestibular system. The vestibular system of the inner ear senses accelerations of the head and interacts with other systems to produce the sensation of balance. It is estimated that more than one third of adults in the US experience vestibular dysfunction at some time in their life. However the mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal processing of vestibular sensory signals are not well understood. Our research aims to elucidate how signals are processed in the peripheral vestibular system using rodent models. Mechanoreceptive hair cells in the vestibular periphery convert tiny mechanical displacements of the hair cell bundle into electrical signals which are transmitted by vestibular afferent nerves to the brain. Type I and type II hair cells are found in the vestibular systems of mammals, birds and reptiles. The two hair cell types differ in several respects including their innervation characteristics. Whereas bouton afferent nerve terminals make synaptic contact with a small portion of the type II hair cell basolateral membrane, calyx-shaped afferent terminals engulf the basolateral surface of one or more type I hair cells. In order to understand how signals are transformed from a mechanical stimulus at the type I hair cell bundle into electrical activity of calyx afferents we use electrophysiological (patch clamp), molecular and mathematical modeling approaches. We have identified several different types of potassium channels in vestibular cells and are currently assessing their modulation by candidate efferent transmitters and ototoxic drugs. It is hoped that results from these studies will clarify some of the mechanisms underlying vestibular disorders.


  • Meredith FL, Vu TA, Gehrke B, Benke TA, Dondzillo A, Rennie KJ. Expression of hyperpolarization-activated current (I(h)) in zonally defined vestibular calyx terminals of the crista. J Neurophysiol. 2023 Jun 1;129(6):1468-1481. PubMed PMID: 37198134
  • Al-Amin M, Vu T, Gehrke B, Dondzillo A, Meredith F, Peng A, Rennie KJ. Age-Related Changes in the Gerbil Peripheral Vestibular System. J Vestibular Res 33(4):31, 2023.
  • Meredith FL, Brown, N, Rennie KJ. Dopaminergic Inhibition of Sodium Currents in Vestibular Calyces. Assoc. Res. Otolaryngol. 45th mid-winter meeting 2022.
  • Gherke B, Meredith FL, Dondzillo A, Vu T, Rennie KJ. Aging and Dysfunction in the Peripheral Vestibular System. ENDURE, Diversity Poster Session, Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 2022.
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34580582/ Dopaminergic inhibition of Na+ currents in vestibular inner ear afferents Frontiers Neurosci 2021
  • Meredith F.L., Rennie K. J. Persistent and resurgent Na+ currents in vestibular calyx afferents. J. Neurophysiol. 124: 510-524, 2020.
  • Meredith FL, Rennie KJ. Regional and Developmental Differences in Na( ) Currents in Vestibular Primary Afferent Neurons. Front Cell Neurosci. 2018;12:423. PubMed PMID: 30487736
  • Kirk ME, Meredith FL, Benke TA, Rennie KJ. AMPA receptor-mediated rapid EPSCs in vestibular calyx afferents. J Neurophysiol. 2017 Jun 1;117(6):2312-2323. PubMed PMID: 28298303
  • Meredith FL, Rennie KJ. Channeling your inner ear potassium: K( ) channels in vestibular hair cells. Hear Res. 2016 Aug;338:40-51. PubMed PMID: 26836968
  • Meredith FL, Rennie KJ. Zonal variations in K currents in vestibular crista calyx terminals. J Neurophysiol. 2015 Jan 1;113(1):264-76. PubMed PMID: 25343781
  • Mann SE, Johnson M, Meredith FL, Rennie KJ. Inhibition of K currents in type I vestibular hair cells by gentamicin and neomycin. Audiol Neurootol. 2013;18(5):317-26. PubMed PMID: 24051519
  • Dopamine decreases voltage-gated sodium currents in vestibular calyx terminals. Meredith FL, Rennie KJ. Vestibular Oriented Research Meeting 2021 (submitted).
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Professional Memberships

  • Association for Research in Otolaryngology, Member
  • Society for Neuroscience, Member
  • American Physiological Society, Member
  • Biophysical Society, Member
  • Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, Elected

Specialty Information

  • Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery

General Information

Graduate Schools:
  • PhD, University of Bristol (1991)
  • University of Texas Medical Branch Hospitals Program, Neuroscience (1997)
Languages: English
Department: Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Contact Us
CU Anschutz
Fitzsimons Building

13001 East 17th Place
Campus Box C290
Aurora, CO 80045

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