Ryugo Lab - Auditory Anatomy & Physiology
Garvan Insititute of Medical Research
Lab Members
David K. Ryugo, PhD
Tan Pongstaporn, BS
Electron Microscopist
Michael Muniak, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Catherine Connelly, BS
Doctoral Student
Kirupa Suthakar, BSc
Doctoral Student
Femi Ayeni, MBBS, MSc
Doctoral Student
Giedre Milinkeviciute, MSc
Doctoral Student
Sam Kirkpatrick, BEng
Masters Student
Annie Cho, BSc
Research Assistant

Lab Alumni


Level 9 Lab 2
384 Victoria St
Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
ph: +61 2 9295 8288
fx: +61 2 9295 8281


Kirupa Suthakar, BSc

Doctoral Student

k.suthakar [at] garvan.org.au

Originally born in Singapore, I spent only a month there before being whisked to Laos where my family had been living for the preceding year. At 1 year old, we up and left for the lovely Caribbean island of Dominica where we spent the next two years. Eventually, we settled down in sunny Sydney, Australia – the place I will forever call home. An uneventful childhood was followed by an uneventful adolescence, and I spent the majority of my time amazed by the world around me, and, to a greater extent, how I was able to perceive it. I was fixated on existence: life, the universe, everything (to quote Douglas Adams). Eventually I understood the subject of my interest was the mind. Filled with questions I pursued my first degree in Psychology minoring in Philosophy. By the end of the three year degree, there were more questions than answers, but ambition was absent and motivation waning. I took some time off and joined the workforce with plans of undertaking the Australian twenty-something pilgrimage to London, England.

A year later, after having my fill of Europe, I knew that what I desired was to continue studying. I decided to have another go at the mind, but from a biological standpoint. I enrolled in another Bachelor degree – this time in Medical Science, hoping to examine this recondite organ itself: the brain. Stimulated by the promise of further investigation in neuroscience, I wondered into the Ryugo Lab looking for an Honours project. Here I found people who shared my fascination by this intriguing organ, and who had the tools and knowledge to both help me formulate a question, and seek the answer. My specific interest in hearing loss was sparked by the fact that my mother had recently acquired unilateral deafness, and watching her struggle with perceiving the world around her made me want to know why, specifically, this happened, and what could be done to help.

So that's why I'm here today, finishing off my honours year and hoping to start a PhD next year to continue researching in this field. Specifically, I am looking into the centrally mediated modulation of signals at the periphery. Namely studying auditory efferents (cells that project from the brain to the ear), which enable us to filter out the myriad of inputs paying heed to those relevant. These cells can alter the dynamics of the inner ear, selectively amplifying or suppressing certain sounds enabling us to extract signals from a complex, noisy environment, and protect our delicate hearing organs from loud noise. With hearing loss, there is a decline in this ability to extract signals from noise, and therefore, I am investigating changes that occur in these cells.