Tim Erickson

Timothy P. Erickson

Title: Assistant Professor
Area of Study: Auditory Neuroscience, Cell and Developmental Biology
Phone: (252) 328-1807
Fax: (252) 328-4178
E-mail:  ericksonti17@ecu.edu    
Office: S305A Howell Science Complex
Address: East Carolina University
Department of Biology
Howell Science Complex
Mailstop 551
Greenville, NC 27858


Post-Doctoral Research: Oregon Health and Science University, Portland OR, 2017.
Ph.D.: Molecular Biology and Genetics. University of Alberta, Canada, 2010.
B.Sc.: Honors with distinction in Molecular Genetics. University of Alberta, Canada, 2004.

Lab Website: www.ericksonfishtank.com
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Research Interests:

What we perceive as sound begins as vibrating air molecules. As such, our sense of hearing is a form of mechanosensation, a sense of distant touch. Hearing loss can result from genetic mutations that affect the sound receptors in the inner ear called hair cells. Hair cells have specialized projections on their apical surface known as the “hair bundle” that acts as the sensor for auditory and vestibular information. One of the major questions in hearing research is how the hair cell can convert mechanical information (sound) into neural signals that our brain can understand.

My lab uses zebrafish as a model system to understand our sense of hearing and balance. Why use zebrafish? Because all vertebrate hair cells operate on the same genetic principles, we can take advantage of the tools available for zebrafish research and apply them to the problem of hair cell function. We play to the strengths of the zebrafish model, such as creating transgenic fish to study protein localization and function, and using CRISPR/Cas9 to alter gene function. Moreover, our ability to image hair-cell proteins in live zebrafish is unmatched by any other system. By using a combination of molecular genetics, transcriptomics, live cell imaging and behavioral tests, the Erickson lab is working to understand how sound vibrations are sensed and transmitted by hair cells.

Prospective Students:

I am looking for students who are excited about exploring the molecular genetics of auditory behavior and function. Working in my lab will not only give you research experience in a clinically-relevant area of human health, but will also serve to hone your skills in scientific inquiry, genetics, molecular biology, and microscopy. Please contact me via email if you are looking for undergraduate research experience or if you want to pursue a MSc. or PhD. in the Biology Department at ECU.


All publications are available via Google Scholar. 

Timothy Erickson, Clive P. Morgan, Jennifer Olt, Katherine Hardy, Elisabeth Busch-Nentwich, Reo Maeda, Rachel Clemens-Grisham, Jocelyn F. Krey, Alex Nechiporuk, Walter Marcotti, Peter G. Barr-Gillespie and Teresa Nicolson. Integration of Tmc1/2 into the mechanotransduction complex in zebrafish hair cells is regulated by Transmembrane O-methyltransferase (Tomt). eLife 2017;6:e28474.

Reo Maeda, Itallia V. Pacentine, Timothy Erickson and Teresa Nicolson. Functional analysis of the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains of Pcdh15a in hair cells. Journal of Neuroscience 37: 3231-3245 (2017).

Timothy Erickson and Teresa Nicolson. Cell type-specific transcriptomic analysis by thiouracil tagging in zebrafish. Methods in Cell Biology. 135, 309–28 (2016).

Timothy Erickson and Teresa Nicolson. Identification of sensory hair-cell transcripts by thiouracil-tagging in zebrafish. BMC Genomics 16: 842 (2015).

Reo Maeda, Katie S. Kindt, Weike Mo, Clive P. Morgan, Timothy Erickson, Hongyu Zhao, Rachel Clemens-Grisham, Peter G. Barr-Gillespie, and Teresa Nicolson. Tip-link protein protocadherin 15 interacts with transmembrane channel-like proteins TMC1 and TMC2. PNAS 111: 12907-12912 (2014).

Timothy Erickson, Laura M. Pillay and Andrew J. Waskiewicz. Zebrafish Tshz3b negatively regulates Hox function in the developing hindbrain. Genesis 49: 725-742 (2011).

Timothy Erickson, Curtis R. French, and Andrew J. Waskiewicz. Meis1 specifies positional information in the retina and tectum to organize the zebrafish visual system. Neural Development 5:22 (2010).

Laura M. Pillay, A. Michael Forrester, Timothy Erickson, Jason N. Berman, and Andrew J. Waskiewicz. The Hox cofactors Meis1 and Pbx act upstream of gata1 to regulate primitive hematopoiesis. Developmental Biology 340: 306-17 (2010).

Curtis R. French, Timothy Erickson, Danielle V. French, David B. Pilgrim, and Andrew J. Waskiewicz. Gdf6a is required for dorsal-ventral retinal patterning and lens development. Developmental Biology 333:37-47 (2009).

Curtis R. French, Timothy Erickson, Davon Callander, Karyn M. Berry, Ron Koss, Daniel W. Hagey, Jennifer Stout, Katrin Wuennenberg-Stapleton, John Ngai, Cecilia B. Moens, and Andrew J. Waskiewicz. Pbx homeodomain proteins pattern both the zebrafish retina and tectum. BMC Developmental Biology 7: 85 (2007).

Timothy Erickson, Steffen Schlopp, Michael Brand, Cecilia B. Moens, and Andrew Jan Waskiewicz. Pbx proteins cooperate with Engrailed to pattern the midbrain-hindbrain and diencephalic-mesencephalic boundaries. Developmental Biology 301: 504-517 (2007).