Thanos Tzounopoulos, PhD

  • Professor and Vice Chair of Research Otolaryngology, Director Pittsburgh Hearing Research Center




Education & Training

PhD, Vollum Institute (1998)

Campus Address

3017 Biomedical Science Tower 3

One-Line Research Description

Mechanisms underlying normal and pathological hearing

We are combining electrophysiological, imaging and behavioral techniques to investigate the cellular, molecular and systems mechanisms underlying normal and pathological auditory processing. Our recent studies are focusing on the role of zinc as a novel neurotransmitter in the brain and its role on auditory processing. Another area of our current research focuses on tinnitus and its underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms. Based on our recent findings on the molecular mechanisms underlying the induction of tinnitus and in collaboration with the medicinal chemist Dr. Peter Wipf of the University of Pittsburgh, we are developing and testing novel specific Kv7.2/3 (KCNQ2/3) activators for preventing the triggering of tinnitus. Moreover, our current tinnitus-related studies are aimed towards understanding the neuronal mechanisms that underlie the maintenance of tinnitus.

Representative Publications

Thanos Stylianos Kouvaros, Manoj Kumar, and Thanos Tzounopoulos (2020). Synaptic Zinc Enhances Inhibition Mediated by Somatostatin, but not Parvalbumin, Cells in Mouse Auditory Cortex. (Cerebral Cortex 2020, In Press)


Thanos Tzounopoulos, Carey Balaban, Lori Zitelli, and Catherine Palmer (2019). Towards a Mechanistic-Driven Precision Medicine Approach for Tinnitus. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2019 Apr;20(2):115-131. doi: 10.1007/s10162-018-00709-9. Epub 2019 Mar 1.


Yeh CY, Ye Z, Moutal A, Gaur S, Henton AM, Kouvaros S, Saloman JL, Hartnett-Scott KA, Tzounopoulos T, Khanna R, Aizenman E, Camacho CJ. Defining the Kv2.1-syntaxin molecular interaction identifies a first-in-class small molecule neuroprotectant. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID 31308225 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1903401116 


Kumar M, Xiong S, Tzounopoulos T, Anderson CT (2019).Fine Control of Sound Frequency Tuning and Frequency Discrimination Acuity by Synaptic Zinc Signaling in Mouse Auditory Cortex. J Neurosci. 2019 Jan 30;39(5):854-865. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1339-18.2018. Epub 2018 Nov 30.


Goldberg JM, Wang F, Sessler CD, Vogler NW, Zhang DY, Loucks WH, Tzounopoulos T, Lippard SJ (2018). Photoactivatable Sensors for Detecting Mobile Zinc. J Am Chem Soc. 2018 Feb 14;140(6):2020-2023. doi: 10.1021/jacs.7b12766. Epub 2018 Jan 31.


Anderson CT, Kumar M, Xiong S, Tzounopoulos T (2017). Cell-specific Gain Modulation by Synaptically Released Zinc in Cortical Circuits of Audition. Elife. 2017 Sep 9;6. pii: e29893. doi: 10.7554/eLife.29893.


Ankur Joshi, Bopanna I. Kalappa, Charles T. Anderson and Thanos Tzounopoulos (2016). Cell-Specific Cholinergic Modulation of Excitability of Layer 5B Principal Neurons in Mouse Auditory Cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, 2016 Aug 10;36(32):8487-99.


Kumar M, Reed N, Liu R, Aizenman E, Wipf P, Tzounopoulos T (2016). Synthesis and Evaluation of Potent KCNQ2/3-specific Channel Activators. Mol Pharmacol. 2016 Mar 22. pii: mol.115.103200.


Li S., Kalappa B.I, and Tzounopoulos T (2015) Noise-Induced Plasticity of KCNQ2/3 and HCN Channels Underlies Vulnerability and Resilience to Tinnitus. Elife 2015;10.7554/eLife.07242. Anderson C.T, Radford R.J, Zatsrow M.L, Zhang D.Y, Apfel U, Lippard S.J, and Tzounopoulos T (2015).


Potent KCNQ2/3-specific channel activator suppresses in vivo epileptic activity and prevents the development of tinnitus. Journal of Neuroscience, 2015 Jun 10;35(23):8829-42.


Modulation of Extrasynaptic NMDA Receptors by Synaptic and Tonic Zinc. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA (PNAS), 2015 May 6. pii: 201503348. Bopanna I. Kalappa, Heun Soh, Kevin Duignan, Takeru Furuya, Scott Edwards, Anastassios V.Tzingounis and Thanos Tzounopoulos (2015).