Carey D. Balaban, PhD

  • Professor, Otolaryngology, Biological Sciences, Neurological Surgery




Education & Training

PhD, University of Chicago (1979)

Campus Address

107 Eye & Ear Institute

One-Line Research Description

Anatomy, neurophysiology, and neurochemistry of vestibular function

The primary goal of Dr. Balaban's research has been to develop a rational basis for understanding the neurobiology of the vestibular system so that new therapies for vestibular disorders can be designed. This goal is approached by: (1) identifying the organization of central vestibular circuits that mediate autonomic and somatic motor responses to vestibular stimulation; (2) identifying neurotransmitters and intracellular signal transduction proteins that are important in these brain circuits; (3) examining the role of these biochemical constituents in responses to challenges from toxins and mechanical (blast) injury; and (3) identifying contributions of these mechanisms to the clinical linkage among balance disorders, anxiety disorders (panic with agoraphobia) and migrainous vertigo. These studies have a strong translational component through interactions with Drs. Joseph Furman, Rolf Jacob, Dawn Marcus, Susan Whitney, John Durrant and Mark Redfern.

Current studies include: (1) the use of neuronal tracers (including fluorescent retrograde tracers and biotinylated dextran amine) to identify the modular organization of vestibular circuits that mediate vestibulo-ocular reflexes, vestibulo-autonomic responses and the linkage between vestibular, pain (migraine) and anxiety pathways; (2) electrophysiological studies of motion-related responses of parabrachial nucleus neurons in alert primates; (3) analyses of the functional organization of serotonergic projections to the vestibular nuclei; (4) studies of changes protein and mRNA expression in the inner ear ganglion cells after chemical challenges to the inner ear; (5) development of real-time human postural control metrics that reflect cognitive event parsing, (6) analyses of emotional expression from thermal images and postural metrics, (7) quantitative modeling studies of subjective responses to oral irritants and (8) translating neural principles into operations research approaches for homeland security and defense applications (through the Center for National Preparedness).

Trainees in Dr. Balaban's laboratory will have the opportunity to apply a variety of anatomical, neuropharmacological, electrophysiological and cellular/molecular methods to study vestibular function. These methods include state-of-the-art tract tracing methods, immunohistochemical methods, quantitative PCR, in situ hybridization, computer, electrophysiology, and a variety of standard and non-standard mathematical modeling and signal analysis methods. Intellectual training includes exposure to regular group meetings that discuss translation of basic findings into clinical practice and other cross-disciplinary applications.

Representative Publications

Koo, J.W. and Balaban, C.D. Serotonin-induced plasma extravasation in the murine inner ear: possible mechanism of migraine-associated inner ear dysfunction. Cephalalgia 26(11): 1310-1319, 2006.


Halberstadt, A.L. and Balaban, C.D. Anterograde tracing of projections from the dorsal raphe nucleus to the vestibular nuclei. Neuroscience 143(2): 641-654, 2006.


Hoffer ME*, Balaban CD*, Szczupak M; Buskirk J, Snapp H, Crawford J, Wise S, Murphy S, Marshall K, Pelusso C, Knowles S, Kiderman A. The Use of Oculomotor, Vestibular, and Reaction Time Tests to Assess Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) Over Time. Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology (2017) DOI: 10.1002/lio2.74


Roehm, P., Hoffer, M. and Balaban, C.D. Gentamicin uptake in the chinchilla inner ear. Hear Res. Jun 2, 2007.


Affeltranger, McBurney, D.H. and Balaban, C.D. Temporal interactions between oral irritants: piperine, zingerone and capsaicin. Chem Senses. 32(5): 455-62, 2007. Epub 2007 Mar 30.


Halberstadt, A.L. and Balaban, C.D. Selective anterograde tracing of the individual serotonergic and nonserotonergic components of the dorsal raphe nucleus projection to the vestibular nuclei. Neuroscience. 147(1): 207-23, 2007. Epub 2007 May 15.


Balaban CD, Furman JM. Beat-to-beat control of human optokinetic nystagmus slow phase durations. J Neurophysiol. (2017) 117:204-214 PMID: 27760815


*Equal contribution, co-first authorship Barbacci DC, Roux A, Muller L. Jackson SN, Post J., Baldwin K, Hoffer B., Balaban CD, Schultz JA, Gouty S. Cox BM, Lewis EK, Woods AS. Mass Spectrometric Imaging of Ceramide Biomarkers Tracks Therapeutic Response in Traumatic Brain Injury. ACS Chem. Neurosci., 2017, 8: 2266–2274. DOI: 10.1021/acschemneuro.7b00189