About the Lab

Directed by Dr. Emily Kimball, the Voice Biology Lab focuses on the biological and physiological basis for vocal fold health and pathology. We are particularly interested in understanding the specific cellular and molecular mechanisms by which the vocal folds maintain their ability to vibrate freely. Along with this goal, we also seek to understand the circumstances that ultimately lead to the development of vocal fold lesions like nodules and polyps, which cause disordered voice production.

Our work is divided across three main ideas:

  1. What keeps the vocal fold healthy in people who don't have voice disorders but use their voice a lot?
  2. What goes wrong in the tissue that causes different lesions to develop, and is this dependent on the person's voice use?
  3. How can we better align clinicians in their characterization of lesions so that we can communicate better about our patients and draw more specific insight from their treatment outcomes?

It is our hope that the work done in this laboratory can have a positive impact on the clinical care for patients with voice disorders.

  • Cell culture is a critical tool that we use to study vocal fold cell interactions and mechanics in a controlled environment.
  • Lillian working at the cryostat, cutting frozen tissue sections and placing them on glass slides.
  • Dr. Kimball presenting our work on vocal fold epithelial primary cell culture at the Fall Voice conference.
  • Ashton working with primary vocal fold cells in the biosafety cabinet. These cells are a very effective way to collect data on cell responses to chemical and physical stimuli in a controlled environment.
  • Immunofluorescence imaging is an effective way to quantify and localize proteins of interest within sections of vocal fold tissue.
  • Dr. Kimball looking at fluorescently labeled slides under the microscope. The images collected will be used for quantitative analysis.
  • VUMC is beautiful in the Fall, with many trees of many colors!