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Linfield College
- Linfield College
Cecilia Toro Assistant Professor

Cecilia Toro - Assistant Professor

Murdock 216


  • B.A., Biology, Reed College
  • Ph.D., Neuroscience, Brown University
  • Postdoc, Oregon Hearing Research Center & Vollum Institute, OHSU

Academic Interests:
I study hair cells: small mechanosensitive cells that reside in the cochlea and semicircular canals, where they detect sound waves and head movement, respectively. I am particularly interested in how incoming auditory and vestibular sensory information can be modulated by specific neurotransmitters acting on those hair cells.

My lab uses the zebrafish model organism to study hair cell function. We do this because zebrafish, like many aquatic vertebrates, have a sixth sense: they can sense water movement around their bodies using their lateral line organ. The hair cells that zebrafish use to sense water movement are very closely related to the cells of the inner ear responsible for auditory and vestibular sensation. The added bonus is that the hair cells of the lateral line are located on the outside of the fish, rather than behind a bony skull. Thus, we can easily visualize and manipulate these hair cells without the need to dissect out the inner ear.


  • Toro C, Trapani JG, Pacentine I, Maeda R, Sheets L, Mo W, and T Nicolson (2015). Dopamine modulates the activity of sensory hair cells. The Journal of Neuroscience 30 (50): 16494-16503.

  • Allen SE*, Toro CP*, Andrade A*, Denome S, and D Lipscombe. Cell-specific RNA binding protein Rbfox2 regulates CaV2.2 mRNA exon composition and overall CaV2.2 current size. *Equal contributions by these authors. In revision

  • Lipscombe D and CP Toro. “Biophysics of Voltage-Gated Ion Channels”. From Molecules to Networks: An Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, 3rd Edition (2014). Edited by: Byrne JH, Heidelberger R, and N Waxham. Elsevier Press. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-397179-1.00013-0

  • Lipscombe D and CP Toro. “Ion Channels”. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (eLS). Macmillan Press (2013). doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000150.pub3

  • Lipscombe D, Allen SE and CP Toro. Control of Neuronal Voltage-Gated Calcium Ion Channels from RNA to Protein. Trends in Neurosciences (2013) doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2013.06.008

  • Smith SM, Chen W, Vyleta NP, Williams C, Lee C-H, Phillips C, and MC Andresen (2012) Calcium regulation of spontaneous and asynchronous neurotransmitter release. Cell Calcium 52(3-4): 226-233. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2012.06.001

  • Phillips CG, Harnett MT, Chen W, and SM Smith (2008) Calcium-sensing receptor activation depresses synaptic transmission. Journal of Neuroscience 28(46): 12062-12070. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4134-08.2008

Lab News

  • Watch lab alumna Megan Schwehr '16 and Professor Toro talk about their collaborative research and how it influenced Megan's preparation for medical school. 
  • Megan Schwehr wins the John Van Zytveld Award In The Life Sciences for her talk at the 2016 Murdock College Research Science Conference. 

Courses Taught

  • BIOL 210 Principles of Biology
  • BIOL 390 Animal Physiology
  • BIOL 400 Molecular Cell Biology