Karl R. Koehler, Ph.D.

Dr. Karl Koehler is an Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. He also serves as a Principal Investigator in the FM Kirby Center for Neurobiology. After earning his PhD in Medical Neuroscience from Indiana University School of Medicine in 2014, he quickly established his laboratory there, before transitioning to Boston Children’s Hospital in 2019. Dr. Koehler’s research is dedicated to understanding how embryonic cells coalesce to shape the organs responsible for our auditory, vestibular, visual, tactile, and nociceptive senses. A cornerstone of his work is the development of organoid models, which are cell culture representations of the human embryo formed using stem cells. Dr. Koehler’s team pioneered the creation of the inner ear organoid; a significant advancement now being leveraged to progress gene therapies for disorders affecting hearing and balance. Another noteworthy achievement of his team came in 2020 when they produced human skin organoids capable of growing hair and sensory nerves. This innovation holds promise in fields ranging from skin disease research and advanced wound treatment to investigations into the evolutionary trajectory of skin and hair attributes across different species. His work has been funded through numerous grants from the Department of Defense, National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, and philanthropic gifts.